|A simple garland of flowering or leafy herbs creates an inviting presentation.|
This recipe is a little bit Martha Stewart, a little bit Michele Scicolone (author of The Italian Slow Cooker, one of my three favorite slow cooker cookbooks), and a little Fred Meyer deli counter. Look for a hormone and antibiotic-free bird. Better yet, buy direct from a small farm near you. The difference in flavor and texture will amaze you. Hint: If your family really enjoys chicken prep enough seasoning mixture to last for twelve birds at one time. The spice jars are already on the counter; after all. Store seasoning mix in a pint-size canning jar in a cool cupboard.
1 4-5 lb. whole chicken
1 medium onion, sliced 1/2-inch thick
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 whole lemon
single batch big batch (x12)
2 tsp sea salt 1/2 cup sea salt
1 tsp paprika 1/4 cup paprika
1 tsp onion powder 1/4 cup onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves 3 Tbs dried thyme leaves
*1 tsp Italian herbs *1/4 cup Italian herbs
1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 1 1/2 – 3 Tbs cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper 2 Tbs black pepper
*Note: You can substitute 1/2 tsp each dried basil, rosemary, and sage leaves for the Italian herbs. For the Big Batch increase measurement to 2 Tbs of each herb.
Use a 5 – 6 quart slow cooker, one large enough to accommodate the bird. (If you want to carve the chicken on a platter, make a sling from aluminum foil. Cut a piece of foil long enough to extend out of both sides of the cooker.) Spray the insert with olive oil. Lay onion slices in bottom, cutting to fit.
Prepare seasoning mixture in either single or big batch. If you make the big batch, whiz ingredients in food processor until uniform and store in a lidded jar in a cool, dark cupboard. Otherwise, combine ingredients for single batch in a small bowl and have ready.
|It takes just 15 minutes to prep a bird for the slow cooker if you make the Big Batch of Seasoning Mix ahead : )|
Remove neck and giblets from chicken, and any loose fat. You can also remove the skin if you wish. Rub 2 scant Tablespoons seasoning mixture over chicken inside and out. Smash garlic cloves with the back of a chef’s knife and insert in cavity. Prick lemon 12 – 15 times with a fork and add to cavity. Place chicken breast-side down in cooker. Do not add water.
|Foil sling makes it easy to lift cooked bird from cooker.|
Cover and cook on high 4 – 5 hours, or low 7 – 8 hours, until fully cooked and tender. A thermometer inserted in the thigh should read at least 165 degrees F. Chicken will be more tender and flavorful if cooked until it reaches 175 degrees.
Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Make gravy with the rich stock in the bottom of the cooker or preserve it for later use by freezing it in a straight-sided wide mouth pint jar. Make Thrifty Stock with the flavorful carcass.
|Bonus: a free pint of delicious stock and a carcass for soup-making. Note bag of frozen veggie trimmings, also destined for Thrifty Stock.|