shredded chicken, an exercise in multitasking

Posted on September 27, 2012


There are about a million things that you can do with shredded chicken. I just did a search for recipes that included it as a main ingredient and there’s even a cookbook dedicated to it. I only recently found out that the easiest way to get some shredded chicken is to boil a chicken. Never had I heard of this, seen this done, or had somebody suggest it to me. It was not on the map for me at all. Until some fateful day over a year ago, and even before I was able to articulate how much I detest pulling apart a chicken to boil it.

I am now smart enough to buy a chicken that has been pulled apart for me. It’s very simple to find. It’s right next to the whole chickens in your grocers meat section. If it’s not? I don’t know what’s wrong with the store you are at, perhaps you had the same cut up whole chicken eye problem I had for a long time… My point ends up being it saves sharpening your knives more often than you might like, and some time before you can get this chicken in the pot and boiling.

It doesn’t take nearly as long as I thought it did. It takes about 90 minutes for a chicken to boil to the point where it’s about ready to fall off the bone.

I recently bought a chicken that was anywhere between 4-6 pounds. I can’t be sure, exactly how big it was. I had a few recipes that I wanted to use it for, and was hoping I could get about 4 cups worth of shredded meat off of it.

Shredded Chicken
Fill dutch oven (5 qt pot) almost half way. Clean/rinse off chicken, dispose of pack of guts gibblets, or save them if you use them for something else. I do not even give the bag a second thought before tossing it. If you are chopping up your own chicken, cut it so you have it in 6 good pieces (breasts, wings, legs) that are fairly similar in size.

Put chicken in pot, fill more water in until the chicken is totally covered by the water. Add a bit of salt, or not, it’s your choice – I don’t think that it will elevate the boiling point in a noticeable way. Cover and when you have reached a rolling boil, turn down slightly so the water is simmering, continue to cook like this for about 90 minutes. I’ve cooked with and without the cover, and not noticed a huge change.

At this point, you can go do whatever you need to do. While it cooks. (This is where the multitasking comes into play…)

The color of the chicken will change, I think it’s mostly the skin that is the most noticeable in this change. It grays a bit when boiled, which looks a bit less appealing, but don’t let this freak you out. If you see fat bubbling up to the top, looking a bit like suds, scoop it off with a large spoon and continue to cook until it’s done. I didn’t notice quite as much fat with the last one I made, because I did a bit of triage and cut larger pieces of fat off while cleaning the chicken before I started cooking.

Drain water from chicken, and let cool on a cutting board or plate. Using plate and a container for your shredded meat, strip meat from bones. This is easily done because of the way in which it’s cooked. I usually use my 4 cup measuring cup to put the meat aside in, because then I can measure it as I put it together.

Some of the things that I like to do with shredded chicken:
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Pasties
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Pulled Chicken Sandwich

Some of the things that I found online that look amazing, and would love to try next time:
40 different things to make with shredded chicken
24 ways to use shredded chicken
chicken tacos
lettuce wrap/ tacos
grilled cheese!