Sunday, March 9, 2014

Slow Cooker Organic Whole Chicken with Carrots & Potatoes

I'll put it this way...

I'm obsessed with my slow cooker. It's an oval crock pot. It was quite inexpensive. And it's one of my favorite kitchen essentials. I've been using it a lot recently. One of my staple recipes is my Slow Cooker Whole Chicken. There's no easier way to make a chicken.

Cooking a whole chicken—instead of chicken breasts, for example—has many benefits. One is flavor, which comes from skin and bones and fat (all lacking in the straight chicken breast). Another is that you can use the carcass to make chicken stock in your slow cooker overnight. Then the fun starts. You can use your homemade stock and leftover chicken to make chicken soup in the crock pot the next day. Just add any variety of beans, quinoa, and vegetables. Also, homemade chicken stock has a huge array of health benefits that store bought doesn't have.

To make homemade stock, just return the chicken carcass to the slow cooker (along with any drippings from cooking it). You may add onion, carrots, celery, peppercorns, ginger if you want, but this is in no way required. What is required—raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar or another acid. I throw in about one or two tablespoons. This helps leach the important minerals out of the bones. Cover the carcass with filtered water and cook on low for ten hours or so (overnight).

When you get up the next morning, strain the broth. I usually then place it in the fridge at this point to allow the fat on top to congeal. The fat can then be easily removed from the stock. You can cook with it, for example making chicken chili or soup in the slow cooker, or freeze it for later use. It keeps for about six months in the freezer. Always great to have on hand for soups and risottos.

In case you're wondering, I buy my chickens from either Whole Foods (pastured if available) or Trader Joe's. I'm a fan of their Brined Organic Whole Chickens. And I make a whole chicken about once a week or every other week. It's an absolute staple in my household.

This recipe for Slow Cooker Whole Chicken with Carrots & Potatoes is a whole meal in one pot. That's what I love about it. Put everything in the slow cooker in the morning and then by dinnertime your house smells amazing and you have a full meal. If you want to get some extra greens, you can serve the chicken and carrots and potatoes with a nice salad.

My favorite salad to make lately is organic mixed greens with dried cherries, crumbled goat cheese, candied pecans, tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette (recipe forthcoming).

Now I'm hungry!

Slow Cooker Organic Whole Chicken with Carrots & Potatoes
Serves about 4 people
Cooking time 6 hours on high
Dairy-free; gluten-free

1 organic whole chicken
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks
4 medium red potatoes, cut into one-inch chunks
1/2 cup dry white wine
bunch of thyme or other herbs to stuff in side the chicken (optional)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Note: You may season the chicken with any dried herbs or seasoning mixtures you desire (lemon pepper, smoked paprika, thyme, etc.). I was just keeping this recipe simple.

1. Layer the onions in the bottom of the slow cooker. Rinse the chicken with cool water and pat dry. Season the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper and stuff with the fresh herbs if desired. Place the chicken on top of the onions in the slow cooker. You may truss the bird if you wish, but it's not necessary in the slow cooker. Pour the white wine into the slow cooker. Place the carrots and potatoes around the chicken.

2. Drizzle the chicken and vegetables with olive oil and season them liberally with the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high for about six hours. Enjoy!

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