During our cool spell here in Texas a couple of weeks ago, I had a hankering for some Chicken and Dressing after seeing a Facebook friend post that she was making some for her family.
I grew up eating Chicken and Dressing or as some may call it Hen and Dressing as did my husband, but through the years we got away from making it so much. We turned to eating Turkey and Dressing only around the holidays.
After reading her post, I just couldn't get it out of my head how good it sounded.
Some may be asking, what is a hen?
You may not know this -- All hens are chickens, but not all chickens are hens.
Hens are female chickens that are slightly larger than the males.
Basically, they are mature egg-laying chickens. When hens reach about 20 months old, their egg production decreases and they eat more feed than they can pay for in egg productions so they are better served in a stock pot bringing the most flavorful rich broth.
The key to cooking a hen is to cook it for a long time and with plenty of water. This is where a crockpot comes in handy during the hot months of the year or just out convenience when you want to come home to a Sunday lunch after church and it be ready to be put on the table.
Just like the hen is cooked in the crockpot so is the dressing. I put the chicken on before I go to bed and cook it all night on low. The next morning I lift the hen out of the crockpot and place it on a platter to cool enough to debone. While it is cooling I begin making the dressing. I cook the hen with onions, celery, and fresh herbs, and because we like a little crunch with the dressing, I add celery and onions again with dried herbs to bump up the flavor some more.
You can't even imagine how incredible my kitchen smells.
While the dressing is simmering away in the crockpot, we leave for church.
We return and open the door.
Oh, it is amazing!
The chickens we purchase in the grocery stores today are slaughtered when they are very young tender chickens.
These are call pullets.
The problem with this is they can be bland because they haven't lived long enough to have a strong chicken flavor. I find this to be true with buying chicken breast, but this is not the case with hens sometimes called stewing chickens that live a long full chicken life.
Don't get me wrong, young chickens have their place and produce delicious recipes and I buy them.
The thing about hens is they are too tough for many popular recipes, but their rich flavor makes them perfect for Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Spaghetti, and all kinds of soups and stews.
Y'all, Southerners love them some (Hen) Chicken and Dressing and it is not just for the holidays.
Many cook Chicken and Dressing in the oven, or as I did here, in the crockpot throughout the year.
I hope you give this recipe a try and cook it in a crockpot. Enjoy!