Another blog that I really enjoy reading is The Happy Housewife (Click here.)
Last week, she wrote a post about how simple it was to cook an entire chicken in your crock pot. I know to many of you this may sound crazy, but the thought of cooking an entire chicken has always been a little overwhelming to me. I mean, I can go buy one already cooked at Wal-Mart for $6.00 that tastes fabulous, so why bother, right?!?! I'm kind of known around my house for being a terrible chicken-cooker. I can make chicken so dry that it takes a good 50-60 chews per bite to get it swallowed. But, we usually have a lot of chicken and we like to eat it because it's healthier than other meats we typically have on hand. I have been lost as to ideas for recipes or new ways to cook it.
Well the Happy Housewife made it sound so simple that I decided to try it. And guess what? It really IS simple. And not only do you get a fresh-cooked meal and the satisfaction of doing it yourself, but you also get about 32 ounces worth of chicken stock (without any additives of MSG!) as well as a fabulous Boston-Market-like smell in your house for a day or two. You can't beat that!
So here's what you do.
1- Go buy a chicken at the store. I bought a big pack that had two chickens in it. It was .95 cents a pound, but you can often find them for considerably less. I bought the Tyson natural young chicken, but there are many brands and types to choose from. Here's a picture of what mine looked like.
2- Get out your crock pot and crank it up to High. Spray it with Non-stick cooking spray.
3- Take the chicken out of the package and rinse it off. Here's the only gross part. You have to reach inside and pull out the gizzard and other yucky items. I had a garbage bag right there waiting and just closed my eyes, reached in , grabbed it and then threw it into the bag.
4- Pat your chicken dry and the sprinkle it with the spices of your choice. I did black pepper, seasoned salt, garlic, and paprika.
5- Put the chicken into the crock pot. You don't have to add ANYTHING else!
6- After about an hour, turn the chicken down to low.
The happy housewife said to cook it for 7 hours. I found this to be a little too long. My chicken was to the point that when I tried to remove it from the slow cooker, it completely fell apart. The dark meat tasted great, but I found the white meat to be a little dryer. I think reducing the cooking time may have helped with this.
Now, here's the best part. After you've taken the chicken out and eaten it, put the bones, skin, and any leftover parts back into the slow cooker. Cover it with water and then put back on high for a few hours. It will make the most beautiful chicken stock you've ever seen.
And here's some of the stock that I saved.
Total, I spent about 5.50 per chicken. We all ate it for supper one night (two adults, a 2 year old, and a 1 year old that eats like he's 16), and we have enough left that I'm making a chicken pie tonight. We also got at least 32 oz. of stock from it, which I would've paid two dollars or more for.
It's easy, relatively inexpensive, and is sure to impress your husband, kids, parents, or friends that you make it for. Throw some vegetables on the stove, bake some rolls, and you've got a super meal! Here's a picture of my husband's first plate.