Slow Cooker Whole Chicken
One night, some time ago, when my schedule was up in shits, my husband approached me and asked me how to cook chicken. This is coming from a guy who only uses the stove to cook chilaquiles and nothing else, and I really don't mind, because I love to cook! I love to cook for myself, for him, for friends, for everyone, so it's okay, but poor guy, he needed more than just scrambled eggs with tortillas, or plain deli meat sandwiches for dinner when I was buried away in papers on the -4 floor basement of Doe Library at 2am. So I taught him how to bake chicken breasts (easy peasy, 450, 15-20 minutes) and that's how it went for a while. There was always chicken in the fridge, and we always ate it.
When I started the elimination diet the first time, I had to cook my own beans, so the crock-pot was out on the counter, never stowed --that's when I decided I wanted to cook a whole chicken. The Whole Foods down the street sells free range, local, air-chilled, organic chickens, so I thought to start there (I'm still trying to figure out how to decide between free-range and pasture-raised). The butchers gave me advice on storage and preparation, I googled basic recipes, and asked my friend who's done it before.
"But you see, the crock-pot doesn't give the chicken that crispy skin, you know?"
"Well what did you do?"
"I put it under the broiler for a few minutes on each side."
I found a method that never fails me and not only is it incredibly easy and pain free, but it gives your home that cozy roasted smell if you know what I'm talking about.
Sure enough, before my summer abroad, my husband sat closely each time I cooked a whole chicken, and absorbed my method in hopes that he'll be able to make it while I'm gone. "Did you really cook a whole chicken while I was gone?" 3 times, he says.
How you want your chicken seasoned is entirely up to you. I usually stick with herbs, salt and pepper, but this time I threw in a little bit of chipotle powder and garlic.
Two things I'd like to share:
1) facing the chicken breast side down allows it to stay moist. I don't know how but at the first try, I honestly did not know which side was the breast, so I actually ended up placing it breast side up in the crock pot. When I corrected this method in later cookings, I found the breast to be more moist.
2) I don't think I've ever seen a slow cooker come with a roasting rack like roasting pans do, so it is unlikely you have a roasting rack for your slow cooker. In this case, simply roll up a few pieces of foil to allow the chicken to stay elevated during the cooking process.
Now this chicken here, she's a little bit special. She was raised on pastures through Marin Sun Farms in the North Bay. Before I discovered MSF, I've never had chicken that was from a "farm" or "fresh" but my husband has had his share when visiting his family's ranch in the state of Puebla, in Mexico and he knows the difference, no doubt. MSF says "it's like tasting chicken for the first time," and I cannot agree more. These chickens are much smaller and oddly, takes longer to cook. If you ever get a chance to try pasture-raised chicken, let me know what you think!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
- a whole chicken
- spices of your choice such as, parsley, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne, paprika, chipotle powder, etc.
- salt and pepper
- 3 ft butchers twine
- 6-7 qt slow cooker
- set your slow cooker up, place rolled up pieces of foil at the bottom to elevate the chicken
- mix your choice of spices, salt and pepper in a small bowl. don't worry about having too much, all-together you should have about 2-3 tablespoons, split the mixture into two batches.
- rinse chicken and pat dry, remove any giblets if you'd like (I leave them in there and feed them to the dogs once cooked)
- coat the chicken with one part of the spice mixture, try to get under the skin and cavities
- truss the chicken with the butchers twine -- here's a link on how to truss a chicken, it's very easy! if you've never trussed a chicken before and feel like you can't handle it, then skip this step.
- place the chicken breast side down on the foil
- cover, cook 3 hours on high or until internal temperature reaches 165°F (as each chicken is different, I check the temperature at the 2 hour mark and every 30 minutes after that)
- cover a baking dish or pan with foil
- when the chicken is done, using poultry tongs, transfer the chicken to the pan, use half of the second part of your spices to sprinkle on one side.
- blast on the broiler and put the pan under the broiler for 3-5 minutes on one side. You'll see the skin bubbling and browning.
- remove the pan, flip the chicken with the poultry tongs (at this point it should be breast side up), and sprinkle remaining spices. place under the broiler for 3-5 more minutes.
- serve however you please! I like to hover over the chicken while breathing heavily and pick at the crispy skin (it gets soft if you don't eat it right away), then leave it for 15 minutes until it cools down to start taking it apart.