Thursday, 27 March 2014

Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker

One of the first dishes I cooked in my slow cooker was a whole chicken - I was so happy with how it turned out that I have stuck to the recipe ever since. This means that with little or no effort on my part (perfect eh!!) I have a beautiful chicken waiting for me when I get home.

Mostly I serve the chicken as it is but on occasion I like to strip away the meat and use it for sandwiches, curries or a really easy gratin I found last summer on Tom Doorley's Megabites blog. The other added advantage of this recipe is that the leftover juices are the perfect homemade chicken stock which is a really good base for any soup. Refrigerate or better still freeze the stock until needed in a large airtight container or in an ice tray -so that it is perfectly portioned for enriching sauces- ready for when you need it.

I have a 6½ ltr slow cooker which fits a 1.6kg chicken perfectly, however if your cooker is small then I suggest that you check what size chicken would suit you best and that the chicken will fit snuggly into your slow cooker, adjusting the vegetables and amount of water to suit.

Serves 4

1.6kg Fresh free range chicken
2 Medium carrots, peeled
1 Small onion, peeled
2 Celery ribs, washed
2-3 Bay leaves
500ml Cold water
Steak seasoning to taste (optional)

Suggested firey steak seasoning recipe:
2 tsp Garlic powder
4 tsp Coarsely ground coriander seeds, crushed
2 tbsp Coarse ground sea salt
4 tsp Paprika
4 tsp Cayenne
2 tsp Fresh ground pepper

Firstly mix all the steak seasoning ingredients together in a small bowl, pour into an airtight jar until needed. I make up this seasoning and keep it for months at a time, it's great for steaks and poultry alike.

Place a large rectangle of tin foil into the ceramic basin of your slow cooker, making sure it is long enough that you can use the overhanging foil as handles to lift the cooked chicken out.

Place the chicken into the basin directly over the foil.

Place the roughly chopped vegetable around the chicken.

Pour the water over the chicken so that the bird gets good and wet (the steak seasoning will stick better to the skin that way).

Add a sprinkling of the seasoning, put lid on firmly and cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours or on LOW for 8-10 hours. Do not lift the lid for a peek - it will only lengthen out the cooking time and potentially result in an under cooked bird.

I have a meat thermometer which I use to check that the bird is fully cooked, alternatively pierce the breast at the thickest part with a skewer - if the juices run clear (no pink juices) then the bird is cooked. Use the tin foil to lift the bird out - drain off any of the juices - set it on a serving plate, cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Arrange the vegetables around the bird and serve. Strain the reserved chicken juices/stock from the basin of the slow cooker and freeze for making soups or adding to sauces. 

Dinner is served!

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