I’m not sure why I’m always surprised when I try something totally new and it works out perfectly the first time. That is what happened with this recipe. I never in a million years thought about making a whole chicken in my slow cooker. I’m not sure why but it just never occurred to me. Until the other day…
I was planning some meals, perusing slow cooker recipes on Pinterest and all of a sudden came across a couple of recipes for making a whole chicken in a slow cooker. I was intrigued. What I found was making a whole chicken in a slow cooker couldn’t be any easier and the result is a really moist chicken with hardly any work. If you’ve never made a whole chicken in your slow cooker you simply have to try it. You won’t believe how good it is.
So let’s talk a slow cooker whole roasted chicken…
Lesson Learned 1 – The chicken needs to be elevated in the slow cooker: This was an interesting fact I learned. I saw some recipes that suggested wadding up pieces of foil into balls, placing them on the bottom of the slow cooker and then placing the chicken on top. I thought that was a little odd and wondered why. I found out that the chicken will give off a lot of juice in the slow cooker and if you don’t elevate it you’ll braise the chicken and it will fall apart when you try to get it out.
When I made it I was surprised by the amount of juice the chicken produced. But I chose not to perch my chicken on a bed of foil balls. Instead I used my vegetables as the base to elevate my chicken. Now this time I only used baby carrots, but I can see making this with potatoes and onions as well. I simply poured a very small amount of chicken broth on the bottom to prevent the carrots from sticking until the chicken produced its juices (the broth hardly even came up the sides of the carrots). But even with just carrots and a little chicken broth as the base, that did the trick and the carrots were even more flavorful having been cooked in broth and chicken juices for such a long period of time. Just remember that you need to season every layer in a slow cooker so make sure you sprinkle whatever you use as a base with salt, pepper, and in this case I used thyme as the herb.
If you choose to just use foil to elevate the chicken you can use the juices in the bottom of the slow cooker to make gravy. You’ll have plenty of liquid to provide a solid base for it.
Lesson Learned 2 – Add some aromatics to the cavity of the chicken: Another way to boost the flavor of the chicken is to add aromatics to its cavity. I put together a combination of garlic, lemon, and a shallot but you can use onions, fresh herbs (like thyme or rosemary), and you can even stuff the neck end of the bird with a sausage and herb mixture. If you do, just make sure you truss the neck skin with a skewer so the sausage cooks inside the bird and doesn’t pop out during the cooking process. And truss the legs together with cooking twine to keep the aromatics inside the cavity of the chicken.
I also made a rub for the chicken consisting of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, minced garlic and a little olive oil. That also lent great flavor to the chicken.
Lesson Learned 3 – Use your broiler if you want crispy skin: The choice is up to you. Obviously the skin does not come out of the slow cooker crispy but if want it all you need do is put the chicken under the broiler for a couple of minutes once you’ve taken it out of the slow cooker. You’ll have the crispy skin you desire. Since this was just for me and my husband (and we don’t eat the skin anyway) I didn’t put the chicken under the broiler. The chicken was still juicy and delicious! I served my chicken with the carrots, some “Stove Top” stuffing for chicken and a salad. It was a great meal.
The major lesson I learned was making a whole chicken in a slow cooker is so unbelievably easy I wondered why I’d never done it before. But I guarantee you one thing, I will be making it again – and often!
Slow Cooker Whole Roasted Chicken...
1- 4.5 – 5 pound chicken
1 – 1 lb. bag of peeled and scrubbed baby carrots
1/2 cup chicken broth
Olive oil cooking spray
4 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
1/2 of a lemon
1 medium size shallot, peeled but left whole
2 tsp. of salt + 1/2 tsp. to season the carrots
1/4 tsp. black pepper + 1/4 tsp. to season the carrots
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried thyme + 1 tsp. to season the carrots
3 Tbs. finely minced garlic
1 Tbs. olive oil
Remove the chicken from its packaging, rinse it inside and out, removing any parts that may have been left inside. Pat the chicken as dry as you can. Insert the garlic, lemon and shallot into the cavity. Truss the legs together with cooking twine to hold the aromatics in place.
Combine the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic and thyme. Add the the olive oil and combine until the ingredients are lightly moistened. Spread the rub generously all over the chicken.
Spray the crock of the slow cooker with olive oil cooking spray. Pour the chicken broth into the crock. Place the baby carrots on top of the broth. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Place the chicken on top of the carrots.
Cook on high for 1 hour and 7 hours on low. Remove the chicken and place under the broiler for crispy skin if desired. Let the chicken stand covered in foil for 10 minutes before carving.