This summer has been very interesting in my “canning kitchen”. After years of indecision, I finally bought a pressure canner. I have used pressure cookers for years, but never a pressure canner. My favorite way to cook our pinto beans is in a pressure cooker; so much faster! I have always cooked a large pot of pintos and frozen the extra in gallon zipper bags. The problem has been that I have to plan ahead to semi-defrost them before I actually need them. I thought having them cooked on my pantry shelf would be so much easier!
I also want to have cooked chicken available for making the filling for one of our favorite dinners, enchiladas de pollo verdes, green chicken enchiladas. I know that I can freeze cooked chicken, defrost it and make the filling, but my freezer is always so full and I really am not too happy with the quality of the frozen cooked chicken.
So being the intrepid experimenter that I am, my first pressure canning experiment was cooked pinto beans. After all, if I failed it would just be some inexpensive beans, right? It worked so well I was amazed and encouraged to try canning meat! Here is my pressure canning experiment number two:
I bought some very nice chicken thighs:
I proceeded to bone them and skin them. The bones went into a roasting pan:
I roasted them at 200 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes, until they were a golden brown. Then I added them, the skins and some onion, garlic, celery leaves and water to a pot to make stock:
I brought it all to a boil and cooked it for about 30 minutes. I cooled it, strained it through my colander, refrigerated it, and then removed the fat. I froze the resulting stock in one quart zipper bags for later use.
Back to the actual chicken meat: I stuffed approximately four raw thighs into each one pint wide mouth jar. I added about a fourth of a teaspoon of salt, nothing else: No water, broth, or any other liquid.
I wiped the threads and top of each jar with a paper towel that I dipped into boiling water. I wanted to be sure that there was no fat or anything else on the sealing surface. I put the hot lids on the jars and tightened the screw rings.
Since I had experimented with canning the beans, I knew that, unlike a boiling water canner, the water in a pressure canner is just a few inches deep. In fact, my canner has a mark inside for the correct depth. I put the jars on the rack and sealed the canner. I brought it up to a boil and watched as the steam came out of the top for ten minutes then I put the rocker part on top. Mine has rings for 5, 10 and 15 pounds of pressure. I don’t know how this part works! I know that when I put the rings on for 10 pounds of pressure they don’t weigh 10 pounds! Anyway, I cooked the jars at 10 pounds of pressure for an hour and fifteen minutes since the thighs were raw and packed into pint jars.
I have to admit that I was very nervous throughout the entire process. It was so very different than canning jam! Here is a photo of one of the jars just after I took it out of the canner:
It is hard to tell but the liquid inside the jar is still boiling, see the bubbles? The contents continued to boil for a surprisingly long time on the counter, maybe forty five minutes or more. I was very gratified when the contents cooled enough for me to hear the familiar ping of the lids sealing. I knew that I had actually done it!
The next day I removed the rings from the jars, made sure that the lids were sealed and washed the outside of the jars with soapy water with a splash of vinegar in it. Why vinegar, you ask. Because our water here in Baja has a LOT of minerals in it, and when I can with it the jars are left with a whitish deposit on the outside. Vinegar neutralizes the deposits.
The next thing was to try the meat out in my favorite enchiladas verdes recipe. Muy riquísimo! The jars of chicken are still sealed after a couple of months, too! I am counting this one as a success!