Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Beautiful Mess: Crockpot Chicken

When I first got married, I decided I was going to roast a chicken.  It seemed like an easy enough thing to do, and with the help of my trusted Joy of Cooking cookbook, I thought nothing could go wrong.  I'd have delicious chicken for an entire week: chicken dinners, chicken salad, chicken sandwiches.  How wrong I was.

Ok, side note: I hate overcooked chicken.  I. Hate. It.  It's chewy and tough and not good and not worth the calories or the time it takes to chew it.  Also, I'm not even that big of a chicken fan.  If I'm going to eat chicken, I want it to be perfect.  So, when I roasted my chicken, I was determined not to overcook it.  So...... I undercooked it.  I still don't know how this happened.  I did everything that Joy told me too.  I pierced the skin to see what color the juices were.  The answer should be clear and mine were clear.  I jiggled the wing to see if it was separated from the body.  It seperated.  And I stuck the chicken with a meat thermometer.  Everything pointed to my chicken being done.  And it wasn't.

So roasting a chicken is something I just thought wasn't for me.  I know this seems dumb, people roast chickens all the time.  These people must be better people than I am and know all of the roast chicken secrets that are passed down through the generations.  

Then a few days ago, I was talking to my mom and she was telling me how she roasted a chicken in a crockpot.  It was like a beam of light shone down from heaven.  A light clicked on in my head.  I can cook a chicken to death in a crockpot and it will still stay juicy!  I could probably leave it in there for days and it would be fine (not that I woud do that)!  Nothing dries out in a crockpot.

So I decided to give it a try.  I bought an organic chicken from Kroger for $7.  This seemed like a pretty good deal to me, but I never buy whole chickens, so I couldn't really tell you.  And I pulled out my trusty crockpot.  For once, I left the Joy of Cooking on the shelf.  (Sorry, Irma)

Result: Amazing.  Best chicken I've ever eaten.  You have to try this method.  Here's what I did:

First, get your chicken and dry it off with a paper towel.  Then you need to season it.  I stuffed the cavity with a lemon and an onion and then rubbed the skin with rosemary, salt, and pepper.  But there are plenty of yummy ways to do this. Your mom probably has a classic seasoning combination (this is my mom's).

Now you just place the chicken in the crock pot on low.  You don't need any liquid, it will produce its own while it cooks.  Cook your chicken for 6 or 7 hours, or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees when placed in the thick part of the thigh.

That's it!  Now you have a delicious chicken!  During the cooking process, the chicken will release a lot of liquid.  Don't throw this out!  It's delicious!  I used it to cook some lima beans in and they were awesome.

If you want to, you can place the chicken in a broiler for a few minutes after it is done to get the skin to crisp up.  I did this, but then I ended up pulling the skin off anyway, so it seems a bit irrelevant.  However, if you are making this for company, it might be nice to broil it for about minute or two.  This will make the chicken prettier.

I tried to carve my chicken and this is what  happened (see picture below).  This meat is so moist and tender that the chicken just falls apart.  This is my new favorite way to make chicken.  It's so delicious.  I keep sneaking cold bits of chicken out of the fridge to snack on.  Yeah, it's so good that I'm snacking on chicken.  This recipe will make a chicken lover out of anyone. (And be sure to save those bones for stock! Recipe coming soon).

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