Canning Meat: Part 2 of 4 — Roasted Chicken
By servantheart, Editor At Large
Canned, roasted chicken has a better flavor than merely “boiled” and is more versatile or recipes.
If you have not read the earlier posts at SCP on canning, you may want to do so before continuing:
Allow about three (3) large chicken breasts per quart jar; half of that for pints.
I use a dial gauge pressure canner. The other type is a weighted gauge.
I have an 18 quart Nesco Roaster/Oven. I like to use it because you can cook a large amount of food in it at one time and it does not use as much “fossil fuel” as some other methods of cooking.
I have discovered that I can roast up to 40 lbs. of chicken breast at one time, stacked in two layers, in this roaster; I just have to remember to put a wire rack between the layers; the rack actually lays directly on the bottom layer, but it still does the job.
Set roaster to 350 deg. F (moderate temp). If I did the math correctly, that should equal 177 deg. Celsius (350 – 32 = 318 x 5 = 1590 divided by 9 = 176.66 (177) C – for our international readers.
If you don’t have one of these Nesco roasters, just use your oven.
Put a small amount of water in bottom of roaster. Put bottom rack in place (must use the rack to prevent meat from cooking to bottom of roaster); remove all skins and place first layer of chicken.
Season meat to taste. I like to combine granulated roasted garlic with iodized sea salt and a bit of fresh cracked peppercorn mélange (combined colors of peppercorns), and just a bit of paprika.
Place middle rack on top of this layer of chicken, and place second layer of chicken breasts, skins removed, of course. Season this layer of meat, also.
Place lid. If you have two holes on top (I do), I like to plug them. I use two aluminum baking potato stakes, one dropped into each; they don’t seal completely, but, close enough; I do not want liquids evaporating from cooker.
I will cook these breasts until tender, about 2 hours, depending on size of chicken pieces, how packed the cooker is, etc.
While you’re prepping meat, put jars in dishwasher (if you have one) and wash; keep in dishwasher to keep hot. Or, wash by hand in hot, soapy water, rinse in hot water, and keep on cookie trays in 250 deg. F (121 deg. C) oven to keep jars hot and clean until ready to pack.
Allow meat to cool; strain liquid; add more water, as needed, and use this wonderful, seasoned broth to pack your chicken. Also have prepared chicken broth standing by, in case you don’t have enough from roaster.
Heat water in medium saucepan for boiling caps and rings; start heat under pressure canner, but keep heat low for now.
Pack meat into hot jars, leaving 1 plus 1/2 inch (1 1/2 inch) MINIMUM head space. I know – most books and sites tell you one inch. Even pre-cooked meat will expand while processing. Trust me. Allow 1 plus 1/2 inch or better for ALL meats.
Now add broth to just over top of meat (one-half inch). You should NOW have one inch headspace from the top of the broth to the top rim of the canning jar.
Clean the rims of your jars twice: first with hot water, then with white vinegar and a piece of clean paper towel for each swipe – you do not want to transfer fat or meat bits, and, using the same towel for all jars could do this.
Place your boiled caps (30 second boil). Place your boiled rings. Tighten rings and then loosen a bit, if too tight. Remember: lids screwed too tightly are a common cause of loss of liquid in canning. But you don’t want them too loose, either.
Place hot jars in hot water, but watch that temps are not too far apart: thermal shock breakage issue.
Put lid on canner; on medium heat, cook until the steam spews out of vent pipe; as soon as it starts to spew out at a noticeable rate, time for ten (10) minutes; this is the important “10 minute tornado”. This will remove excess air from pressure canner, allowing it to reach and maintain proper internal temp for safe food canning. FAILURE TO TAKE THIS STEP CAN LEAD TO IMPROPERLY CANNED FOOD. If you are using a weighted gauge (such as a Mirro with 5/10/15 lb. increments), this is not necessary, as it will vent out while cooking. It is ALWAYS necessary with a dial gauge, no matter what you are canning.
After 10 minutes, place your weight on vent pipe. Bring to temp over medium to medium-high heat (I don’t know your stove or how hot it cooks) and hold it there; start timing as soon as it reaches proper pressure. If at any time it drops below the required pressure, bring it back by turning up heat just slightly, and start timing again. Just watch it so it doesn’t have opportunity to drop below temp for very long. You don’t want food cooked to mush. If you get too much pressure, GENTLY release a little using the weight (move it slightly to release pressure) until it reads correctly. Do not get in a hurry in releasing pressure – this can result in extreme temp fluctuations, which forces liquids out of jars.
If pints, process at 10 lbs. pressure 75 minutes if under 1000 ft. altitude. If over 1000 ft. altitude, process @ 12 lbs. pressure for 75 minutes for PINTS. If QUARTS, process at 10 lbs. for 90 minutes below 1000 ft; 12 lbs. for 90 minutes above. Over 2000, add 2 more lbs. pressure, same timing.
ALWAYS allow your pressure canner to drop back to “zero” on its own. Don’t try to force it. When completely cooled (gauge reads zero), open canner; wait 5 minutes before removing jars (that water is still very, very hot and you don’t want to disturb jars just yet).
After 5 minutes, remove jars from canner, allow jars to cool thoroughly.
Check for seal when cooled (at least 2 hours in most environments).
Remove metal rings when cool; wash jars and rings in hot, soapy water and rinse thoroughly in hot water. Return to racks and let air dry completely – several hours or even overnight. Replace metal rings. I like to wipe lids dry with paper towel after washing, rinsing, and returning to cooling racks – this prevents water rings from forming on caps, which makes it harder to write on them.
Write contents and date on top of metal lids. Pack and store. Give yourself a “Well done!”.
Roasted chicken is highly versatile and you can do many things with it! My boys love “Chicken Enchilada Casserole”, which I have posted under recipes, over at the Forum.