Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

how to cook whole chicken in the slow cooker, whole chicken in the slow cooker, roast chicken

I have to admit, while I love my slow cooker, I’ve been apprehensive about cooking a whole chicken in it. I really adore roast chicken, especially when the skin gets nice and crispy. “Slow cooker” to me doesn’t scream beautiful, crispy skin. Rather, I picture rubbery, inedible skin. I mean really, is there anything more unappetizing than rubbery chicken skin? Blech.

So, with hesitation, I decided to give the 100 Days of Real Food recipe for Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot a whirl.

I adjusted the seasonings slightly based on what I already had in my pantry: dried parsley, garlic salt, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.

whole chicken in the slow cooker

And I took Lisa’s advice of rubbing the seasoning under the skin in addition to coating the outside, because if the gummy skin’s being peeled off afterwards, I was gonna want the meat itself to be seasoned. Right? Right.

whole chicken in the slow cooker

And then, just like she writes, I placed it atop one chunky cut onion, set the cook time to 5 hours on high, and forgot about all day Saturday.

how to cook whole chicken in the slow cooker, whole chicken in the slow cooker, roast chicken

And you know what? The skin wasn’t gummy at ALL. The fat rendered out (note all the lovely juices in the bottom), and the skin turned paper thin. Not crispy, but it was totally edible.

The meat literally fell off the bone. You can even see in the photo how relaxed it looks. I’m surprised it didn’t give in all together without my help!

whole chicken in the slow cooker

Make no mistake. This is not a substitution for regular oven roasted chicken. The meat texture is different, almost mushy. “Mushy” isn’t the best adjective when describing food, I get that, but I’m not sure how else to describe it. Not exactly like pulled chicken, but closer to that, I suppose, than a roast chicken texture. Point is, it’s good.

I’m going to try this again with the slow cooker on low, and instead for 8-10 hours. We’ll see what that does to the texture!

PS: Make sure to save the bones, juices and cooked onions in the slow cooker to make overnight stock!

Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker
 
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Closely adapted from the recipe for "The Best Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot" recipe at 100daysofrealfood.com
Author:
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 1 3.5-pound whole organic chicken
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
Instructions
  1. Place the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Mix the garlic salt, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper and parsley together. Rub the spice mixture under the breast skin and all over the outside of the chicken (underneath too!). Place the seasoned chicken on top of the onions, breast-side up.
  3. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours, or until the skin has turned golden and the meat falls off the bones.
  4. Save the carcass, juices and cooked onions to make overnight chicken stock in the same slow cooker!

Grilled Ginger Spiced Chicken Thighs

grilled-spiced-ginger-chicken

I was looking for a different way to prepare chicken thighs the other day, and found myself clicking through Food Network’s site in search of some inspiration.

Lately I’ve been buying bone-in, skin on chicken thighs because I think they have the most flavor. But I happened to stumble across a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs on sale at the grocery store, and I couldn’t pass them up.

So, as I perused the Food Network site, one recipe that caught my eye was this one from Bobby Flay:

Smoked Ginger Chicken with Cardamom, Cloves and Cinnamon

I had most of those ingredients on hand, or at least the “feel + taste” of those flavors. Inspiration had arrived!

Here’s where the difference between our two recipes falls:

1. My soaked liquid included water, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, ground cardamom and crystallized ginger (I don’t typically keep fresh ginger on hand).

chicken thighs, grilled ginger spiced chicken thighs

2. I used a grill pan rather than our charcoal grill. I love a good piece of grilled chicken, don’t get me wrong, but on this particular day it was raining so I had to be inside.

3. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of a whole butterflied chicken (although I’m sure that would be tasty!).

Grilled Ginger Spiced Chicken Thighs
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ cup water
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3 pieces of crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon black whole peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, cloves removed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ⅛ cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Add ½ cup water, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, peppercorns and cardamom to a small bowl and set aside to soak for 1 hour. Strain the water and keep it for the next step.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it's soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in the mustard seeds and continue cooking for 30 seconds longer. Add the ½ cup of reserved water, lime juice, salt and pepper, and bring the mixture to a boil. Continue cooking for 1 more minute, and then transfer the liquid to a blender.
  3. Blend the mixture on high until it's the consistency of a smooth paste (add more water if it's too thick). Let it cool completely.
  4. Pour the paste over the chicken thighs, coating them completely. Cover and marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour, but up to 4 hours. Remove the chicken 30 minutes before you're ready to grill.
  5. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle it with a little olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with a little salt and pepper, then place them on the grill pan and cook for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken and continue cooking for another 4 minutes. (My chicken thighs were on the small side and flattened out in the pan. If you're using a larger chicken thigh, you may want to add 1-2 minutes per side to ensure they're done.)
  6. Remove the chicken from the grill pan and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Farfalle with Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce & Pan Seared Chicken Sausage

easy pasta dinners, garlic cream sauce

Now that I’m more intent on picking whole ingredients, shopping organic, and staying away from likely-GMO products, going to the grocery store takes longer and requires more focus.

I happen to be one of the few that actually enjoys food shopping – as long as I don’t have my kids in tow. Having to focus and slowly walk the isles isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it affords the time to stop and smell the roses (so to speak).

One of the benefits to slowing down while perusing the grocery isles is that I’ve noticed things that have never had a chance to catch my eye before. Like Wegmans organic chicken sausage. I’m not sure why I’ve never picked them out before now since we eat hot dogs and other sorts of sausages, but in my haste I must have just overlooked them.

Well, I’m here to tell you – they’re worth the stop.

chicken sausage pasta, farfalle, easy pasta recipe, garlic cream sauce

Right? Onward to the meal!

These organic chicken sausages (Spinach and Garlic with Asiago) were seared in a hot pan with olive oil and butter for about 10 minutes, and then I let them drain on a paper towel while I made the cream sauce for the farfalle.

garlic cream sauce, farfalle, chicken sausage pasta, easy pasta meals

I sauteed garlic, green onions, mushrooms, fresh chopped spinach and salt in olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Then I added a little flour to make a roux, followed by milk and chicken broth. Once the mixture got thick and bubbly, I threw in a handful of freshly grated Parmesan and stirred until it was nice and creamy.

garlic parmesan chicken sausage farfalle 3

Once the farfalle was finished cooking to al dente, I tossed it in the garlic cream sauce, and then sliced the sausages and added them too. Another sprinkling of green onions and some fresh basil finished the pasta off!

Farfalle with Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce & Pan Seared Chicken Sausage
 
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This easy pasta dish works well for a busy weeknight meal and goes great with a loaf of crusty bread!
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ½ pound farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • ¼ cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, rough chopped
  • 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • ⅛ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ⅛ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 6 Wegmans organic chicken sausages {spinach & garlic with asiago}, pan seared and sliced
Instructions
  1. Set a large pot of water with 2 tablespoons of sea salt to boil over high heat.
  2. Warm the olive oil and butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Once the butter has melted, add half the onions, the garlic and the mushrooms to the skillet, and saute them for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the spinach and the salt, and continue sauteing until the spinach has wilted - about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the farfalle to the boiling water in the large pot, and cook to al dente.
  6. Meanwhile, stir the flour into the spinach mixture in the skillet (it will look a little pasty) and the continue to saute it for another minute to get the floury taste cooked out.
  7. Pour the chicken broth and the milk into the skillet, stirring the mixture to combine. Bring it to a boil, and continue to stir the sauce until it's thickened and bubbly. Add the Parmesan, and stir until it's melted - 1 minute more.
  8. Once the pasta is al dente (about 9 minutes), drain it and then add it to the sauce, tossing to coat the pasta.
  9. Add the sausage, remaining onions and the basil, and give it one last toss.
Note: I have no affiliation with Wegmans, and this is not a sponsored post of any kind. They just happen to be one of my local grocery stores, and I really like their organic chicken sausage!

American Food Holidays | January 7 – 13

It’s not so much a New Year’s Resolution, as it is timing, that I’ve decided to get back on track with my running. It just so happens that day one fell on January 5, the first weekend after New Year’s.

Busy holiday schedules are finally starting to slow down, and evenings are staying a little lighter for a little longer – dark at 5:30 PM now instead of 5:00 PM. With a regular work schedule though, this still means running at dusk afterwards, but I’ll manage. I’m looking forward to longer spring evenings!

And, I’m also looking forward to getting back in shape, while also losing the 15-ish pounds I’ve gained over the course of the past 12 months. The poundage created by pregnancies, a mid-30’s metabolism shift, move to a desk job, and when I stopped running regularly. It’s like the perfect storm for slow and steady weight gain….

My first race of the year is virtual: The Sandy Hook Elementary Memorial Virtual Half Marathon and 5K. I’ll be running with a group of friends at the end of the month, and my $20 5K registration goes towards the Sandy Hook memorial fund. Hoping for no snow, and a mild January day….

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?

Now onward to the point of this post: this week’s American Food Holidays!
american food holidays, january food holidays, national food holidays, food holidays
January 7 is National Tempura Day

 

 

January 8 is National English Toffee Day

 

 

January 9 is National Apricot Day

 

 

January 10 is National Bittersweet Chocolate Day

 

 

January 11 is National Hot Toddy Day

 

 

January 12 is National Curried Chicken Day

 

 

January 13 is National Peach Melba Day

 

 

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