After a recent post on storing your slow cooker, one reader asked why we didn’t include any ideas for using a slow cooker. So here is one from Lauren, our long time volunteer adviser and the class assistant in our New Kitchen Cooking School. I had always slow cooked chicken by submerging it in water and cooking on low for 8 to 10 hours–essentially poaching it. Then Lauren shared her method which essentially roasts the chicken. Guaranteed good results–and ridiculously simple:
Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken
Step 1: Plop Bird into Slow Cooker, Breast Side Down
Step 2: Season Chicken
Step 3: Cover and Cook on High ~ 3 Hours
Step 4: Uncover and Cook on High ~ 1 More Hour
Step 5: Baste Every 15 Minutes (optional, but really adds flavor and moistness)
Step 6: Use the pan juices to make a delicious sauce, e.g., with just a little grainy mustard and Herbes de Provence, maybe a little wine. Try making it in the slow cooker, but if it’s too slow, scrape everything into a small skillet or saucepan.
Fair Question: Why not use the oven? I prefer the slow cooker because of the “tolerance” and “visibility” factors. While an oven doesn’t exactly speed cook foods, the window between not quite done and overdone may be only 10 to 15 minutes. Outside that narrow window, the chicken gets tough and dry, something I’ve experienced plenty of times because I’m not one to stand guard over food. With a slow cooker that window is much longer, maybe 30 to 60 minutes. And even if I go past that window, there’s a good chance the chicken will still be pretty good. It’s hard to ruin a dish completely in a slow cooker unless you completely forget about it. At the same time, it’s easier to monitor a chicken in a slow cooker sitting on the counter than one buried in a hot oven in a heavy pot.
Note on Doneness: According to Joy of Cooking, chicken must be cooked to the point where the meat releases clear, not pink, juices when pricked to the bone with a fork. This correlates with an internal temperature of 170 (F) on an instant-read thermometer. However, for the breast meat, doneness is reached at an internal temperature of 160 (F). I usually slice between the thigh and torso of the chicken to see that the juices run clear and the meat is no longer red.