It all started when the heating element on my oven blew up one Sunday afternoon. I'd planned roast chicken for dinner, but obviously had to have a rethink. And, after a quick Twitter convo with Kavey, I decided to pop it in the slow cooker. She gave me some instructions - quarter an onion, layer it in the bottom of the crockpot, put the chicken on top and then pour boiling water in until it comes halfway up the bird. Cook on high for one and a half to two hours, and then turn down to medium for another 3-4 hours. Sunday dinner was saved!
You can put in a couple of bay leaves and some carrot and celery too if you want to enhance the flavour of the stock. The chicken ends up very soft - I scoop mine out with two spoons and a leg or a wing sometimes falls off - don't worry if this happens to you. Just scoop it out.
I'd read anxious message board posts on this from worried people about the low temperatures and would it really kill all the bacteria in the chicken - but it's cooked for 5 hours and as long as you check it's cooked all the way through (it always is) I can't see any problem. I've made this countless times now since that day and we've had no problems with it.
There are so many great things about cooking a whole chicken in this way. Firstly, you end up with the tastiest stock that you can use for risottos, soups or whatever else you fancy. I always freeze it. Then, you can make an even tastier batch of stock by putting all the bones and skin back into the crockpot and pouring over fresh boiling water and some more veg. Leave all that to simmer away in the slow cooker on low overnight - it's true - you wake up to the most delicious smell and end up with another batch of richly flavoured stock.
Other great points: you can leave it cooking all day, you don't have to check on it or anything. It's also less messy than roasting in an oven with all that spitting and hot fat. It's more energy efficient (there's that old tale of a slow cooker using up the same energy as a lightbulb). And the meat will be so moist and tender and will fall off the bone so easily that you won't waste a scrap of it. Save leftovers for wraps, sandwiches, curries, stews, etc.
The downsides? Well, for me there's only one, which is that pale, baggy, goose-pimpled skin. But then we never eat that anyway, it just looks better when it's roasted. Again - it's no looker - but boy, it's my new favourite way to cook chicken.
Thank you Kavey! Check out her post on slow cooked chicken on Kavey Eats.