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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Whole Crock Pot Chicken Recipe

At the end of the day, I am very thankful I am not an only child.  There are many lessons learned from living in a family with different personalities.  While my sister Ashley is only 13 months older than me, we are pretty much polar opposites.

BUT... I am not complaining because this means we kind of bring different skills "to the table".
Pun Intended.  

For example, one year I asked Ashley what she wanted for Christmas.  Without a seconds hesitation, she blurted "the Martha Stewart book on how to clean everything in your house".

This little story sheds light to her personality.  If Martha Stewart ever needed a side kick, Ashley would be your girl.  Dinner parties, cooking, cleaning and organizing are on her list of hobbies, which is great when I need a new recipe idea or some "how to" motivation.  When I asked her to share some of her favorite recipes with you all, she was really excited to share her recipe for cooking a WHOLE chicken in the crock pot.   I am going to have to teach her how to be a little more.. concise but if you read through, you will be rewarded with a cheap, delicious, and easy recipe. 

 And yes there is a quick and dirty version at the very bottom.

I’m Ashley Dwyer, Katie’s sister and I absolutely love cooking. I get a great deal of enjoyment creating meals for a dinner party or just me and my husband at home, so I love having versatile recipes that I can make for any occasion.

One of the things I love to make is a simple whole chicken. I feel people sometimes forget just how easy it is,  you can do so much with it, and if you’re having dinner guests has great presentation.  I often get an organic chicken from Stop and Shop on sale for about $6 making it cost effective on your grocery budget. I often buy two when they are on sale and freeze one for another day, then just place it in the fridge to thaw 1.5-2 days before I plan on making it.  Cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot gives you a juicy chicken with only 15 minutes of  prep in the morning. 

The best part about this is that you can alter the ingredients to what you have in your pantry for different flavors.  I feel the best way is to stuff all the delicious flavors and seasoning under the skin.  I like to be very descriptive so that anyone doing this for the first time will find it easy but apologize if it seems a little long, I’ve put a shorter summary recipe at the bottom as well.  So let’s start!

First I like to give my crock pot a quick spray of cooking spray to assist in clean up. This chicken was about 5lbs. Then, take your chicken out the package, making sure to remove and innards you don’t want. Some brands place it in the top neck cavity; others more commonly put it in the back opening. Nature’s Promise does not put them in a pouch for you just loose in there so make sure you get everything if you don’t want them. Rinse the chicken, pat dry and place in your crock pot.  Then mix in a small bowl the following ingredients in a small blow to create kind of a paste.

-3 tablespoons of olive oil/softened butter (I think butter is a little yummier so I use that for when feeding guests and olive oil to make it a little healthier when it’s just us.
-1 small shallot diced fine
-3 minced garlic cloves (I love garlic so sometimes add more)
-1 zest from a lemon
-1 tablespoon of lemon juice
-1/2 teaspoon of paprika (sometimes I swap this for 3 tablespoons of mustard for a lemon mustard flavor, and works if you young children who would be deterred by the paprika making the chicken reddish)
-1 ½ teaspoon of Jane’s Crazy Mixed Salt (or just salt and pepper but if you’ve never had this you should try it)

Feel free to add whatever fresh or dried herbs you like or have on hand like rosemary, thyme or parsley. These make great additions

After I make my paste I prep my chicken. At the back of the breast I use a knife to cut a small slit in between the breast and the skin and use my finger to loosen the skin from the entire top of the breast to make a nice pocket.  

( I know it doesn’t look pretty but it’s not that bad and the taste is totally worth it getting all the flavors cooking into the breast.) 

Next, spoon 2/3 your paste into the pocket and push it to evenly distribute it under the breast. You can see it through the skin to make sure it’s all covered. Then I take the rest and put a little in the cavity and smother the rest on top of the skin sprinkling a little extra salt and pepper on top (depending on your taste). Sometimes I also take the lemon half I squeezed and put that in the cavity as well if you like a little extra lemon flavor. This whole process usually takes me about 15 mins in the morning.

*Note:  if you are rushed and don't feel like stuffing the breast and just want to season and go, I've read you can cook your chicken breast side down to cook in the juices that accumulate in the bottom. 

Next, set your crock pot on the LOW setting.   I like to add my in oven meat thermometer so I know where my chicken is in the cooking process.  Even a crock pot can dry out meat if left too long.  Usually it takes about 5-6 hours for me to cook a 5 lb chicken.

 I feel like my crock pot cooks faster than most recipes dictate so it’s important to know your crock pot. If yours is a little lower in temperature on the lower setting it could take up to 7 or 8. According to my thermometer chicken is don’t when the internal temperature hits 165 degrees. So when it gets to this I like to poke the inner thigh as well to be sure and put it on warm until I’m ready. 

I used to prep my chicken in the morning then put it in the crock pot at lunch time on a week day, or if you have a more sophisticated slow cooker and you know your crock pot you can time it to go to warm on its own after a certain amount of time.

Here is my chicken all done. If you’re like my husband where you love the skin but find it’s not as appealing when been in the crock pot so you can take the whole ceramic piece out of your crock pot and stick it under the broiler briefly to crisp up that skin.

See all the amazing juice and flavor that accumulated at the bottom of the crockpot when we added no liquid?  You can spook this over your cut piece as is or if you have guests coming and want to make the extra mile simply remove your chicken onto a serving platter and pour the juices through a sieve into a small pot/sauce pan. 

You may want to spoon the fat off the top as well then reduce down to thicker gravy, sometimes adding a tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with a few tablespoons of water to help thicken it and taste to check seasoning.

 Once you removed the meat you can make a yummy stock right in the crock pot as is with the carcass using every part of the chicken without having to pull out and dirty any pots. Simply remove your left overs, add whatever chopped veggies you have like carrots and an onion, fill the crock pot with water and let simmer on low overnight and wake up to a great tasting broth that you can store in the fridge for a day or two or freeze in an air tight container. It’s perfect to make some crock pot chicken noodle soup, or flavor rice with instead of cooking with water or some roasted potatoes.

I hope I’ve inspired you for an idea when you’re deciding next time what to make for dinner with something easy, cost effective, and can be made many ways.


Crock Pot Whole Chicken

-Whole Chicken 4-6 lbs
--3 tablespoons of olive oil/softened butter -1 small shallot diced fine
-3 minced garlic cloves
-1 zest from a lemon
-1 tablespoon of lemon juice
-1/2 teaspoon of paprika (sometimes I swap this for 3 tablespoons of mustard for a lemon mustard flavor, and works if you young children who would be deterred by the paprika making the chicken reddish)
-1 ½ teaspoon of Jane’s Crazy Mixed Salt (or just salt and pepper but if you’ve never had this you should try it)
-Optional:  fresh or dried herbs you like or have on hand like rosemary, thyme or parsley.

Prepare and clean the whole chicken and place in the crockpot. Cut a small slit at the back end of the breast and use your finger to loosen skin making a pocket, you can do the thighs as well. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl to form a paste like texture and spoon 2/3 into pocket in between skin and meat, pushing down to evenly distribute. Rub the outside of the chicken and cavity with remaining paste. Sprinkle a little extra salt and pepper on the outside of skin and place the lid on your slow cooker. Cook on low for 5-7 hours or so depending on your crockpot until the breast and thigh reads an internal temperature of 165-170 degrees.

-Remove ceramic part of slow cooker with the chicken and place under the broiler for a minute are so to crisp skin to your liking keeping a close eye.
-Take remaining juice from the bottom of the slow cooker and place in a small pot/sauce pan. Spoon off fat from top and reduce to make gravy. Season if needed and can also take 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons of cold water to gravy to help thicken and pour over sliced meat.
-Once leftovers are removed from carcass make a stock by adding some chopped vegetables if you have them, filling the crockpot with water and letting cook on low overnight to wake up to some homemade stock for soup or cooking with rice or potatoes.


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