In Part 1, I described how to can chicken and mentioned that I would share some ideas for using the home-canned chicken. One of the first questions people ask is if they can make fried chicken. The answer is “not really” It is possible to can chicken on the bone but the canning process cooks and tenderizes it to the point where the meat falls apart easily when removed from the jar. It would be the same as baking or boiling a chicken breast or drum stick from raw meat, then trying to bread/batter and fry it.
However, you can use the canned chicken meat to make chicken nuggets and chicken patties. Shred the meat with your fingers and stir in mayonnaise until you have a pasty clump of chicken that you can form into nuggets or patties. Dip in egg, water, or milk, then coat with seasoned flour, or mix the egg, water, or milk with seasoned flour to make a batter and coast the nuggets or patties with it. You can oven-bake or fry them in oil in a pan or fryer. I oven-bake them for half an hour to 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
I tried cutting chicken breasts in strips and canning it for making chicken strips, but the meat falls apart when I try to bread it. I had also hoped to use it in chicken fried rice but ended up with shredded chicken in the pan. It still makes great chicken fried rice but at best I have some chicken chunks in there along with shreds of (still tasty) chicken. If you add the chicken toward the end of preparing the fried rice, and stir gently, you can keep a lot of it in chunks. Stirring breaks it into shreds.
Another tasty way to use canned chicken is to shred the chicken with your fingers and add barbeque sauce. Heat and serve on rolls or buns for “pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches”. Sloppy Joe sauce works, too but, isn't as tangy.
I like to make a nice rich gravy that is thick with chunks of canned chicken, and pour it over mashed potatoes or homemade bread, or sometimes over both at once. It's also good over homemade biscuits.
I asked friends for ideas to use for home-canned chicken, and one friend suggested Mexican food, such as enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, burritos, and tamales. I made chicken enchiladas and they were delicious! Here's a link to my post about them on my book blog: Enchiladas made with home-canned chicken.
An old stand-by is chicken and dumplings, which are a favorite in our house. The same “chicken stew” for chicken and dumplings is good in a pie crust for pot pie. And of course, chicken noodle soup is a staple in a lot of homes. Add noodles and vegetables to chicken and broth and you have a delicious and nutritious soup. Salt and pepper to taste.
You can make a quick and easy casserole by boiling noodles and adding cream of mushroom soup or alfredo sauce along with a jar of home-canned chicken. Substitute rice for the noodles and you have another tasty casserole-like dish, “chicken and rice”. Add vegetables too, if you wish. It's very versatile and almost anything goes with it.
My daughter, Emily, makes chicken-alfredo lasagne with canned chicken. It's great with garlic bread and a salad on the side.
Other suggestions from friends were to add chicken to cream of potato soup, to macaroni and cheese, and to make chicken salad for sandwiches by mixing mayonnaise and chopped celery with the chicken meat.
All of these meals can be made with either home-canned or store-bought canned chicken, but the most satisfying is the meals you make with foods you have had a hand in preserving and preparing, as far back up the chain as you are able to go. One of the best things about cooking with canned chicken is that the meat is already cooked. This time-saver is one very good reason for canning chicken. You can make nutritious and healthy meals without having to start with raw chicken.
I would love to hear other ideas from readers for using canned chicken. Please leave comments below. Thanks to Rusty, Amy, and Emily for sharing ideas with me.
More information and pictures are available at Susan's blog. This blog is a companion to several of her published books and centers around food preserving and food storage. Click here to browse her books. You can read Susan's other posts on this site here.