There are few better aromas in this world than roasted chicken. I absolutely love the way my house smells on a crisp fall day when there is a delicious bird in the oven.
You can get a deliciously similar result by cooking a bird in a Crock Pot. I feel like the universe has been hiding this Crock Pot method from me all these years. The only flavor difference that I can tell between an oven bird and a Crock Pot one is the crispy skin. You can crisp up the Crock Pot version by crisping it up under the broiler on a sheet pan if you want. Here’s the Best Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker recipe from The Little Kitchen blog that inspired this meal and that uses this method. Here’s why I like it:
- It’s totally hands off. Put in your bird with a mirepoix of veggies, turn it on low for 4-5 hours, run errands, leave the house, take a nap – no hassle or worry and it’s done.
- The meat is so moist – it’s nearly impossible to dry out.
- While the meat is cooking, the drippings and a stock renders in the base of the pot. It’s really rich and meaty and makes a great base for a soup later on.
- Which leads me to my next point – the cooked chicken and stock allows for multiple meals down the road.
Here’s how one 3.5 pound bird fed my husband and me for a week straight.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, I chopped up an onion, a couple large carrots and a few stalks of celery and placed them in the base of the Crock Pot. I rubbed the chicken with salt and pepper and placed it on top. Then I tossed in some thyme (rosemary or sage would also be good) and turned it on low.
Then, four to five hours later, I had this beautiful bird (and a house filled with delicious aromas!). Notice all the liquid in the bottom of the pot. It’s a mix of the stock from the chicken bones full of gelatin, the drippings, and the liquid from the vegetables. I didn’t add any liquid at the start – this all comes from the cooking process.
That first night we had big garbage salads with greens, homemade croutons, cranberries, carrots and broccoli, scallions, feta and some kind of dressing. Delicious.
I saved the liquid in a jar and froze it for a large pot of soup the next week. I’m not sure if it’s stock or broth but it doesn’t matter. It’s incredibly flavorful and rich. Once it cools, I skim the fat off the top. When making a soup with this, you have to add more broth or even just water as the liquid on its own is too rich.
Monday night we also munched on the cooked chicken with salads. That night I assembled a chicken pasta dish to cook the next night. I just tossed chicken with cooked noodles, spinach, tomato sauce (which had onions and peppers in it) and basil. When I assembled it, I put in half the pasta mixture, then added a layer of cottage cheese and shredded cheese – my mother’s preferred lasagna binder – before adding the rest of the pasta. I topped it all off with some more shredded cheese. On Tuesday I baked it for 30 to 40 minutes and then sprinkled fresh parsley on top. We had that for at least two nights.
Thursday night I made chicken tacos with avocado, spinach, tomatoes, feta, cilantro, sunflower seeds and salsa. To reheat the chicken I sautéed the already cooked/shredded pieces with some cumin and chili powder with a little bit of olive oil for flavor before putting it in the tortillas with the toppings. I paired this dish with mashed canned black beans seasoned with cumin and pepper. It was all on the table in less than 20 minutes
With the Crock Pot method, I invested very little time and effort and ended up with some pretty tasty, filling, hearty and healthy meals for us. I don’t have a specific recipe for this, but I’m hoping these dishes are replicable with my descriptions.
Have questions? Leave a comment and I’ll try my best to answer them.