For most of my adult life, I have been 'afraid' of trying to cook a whole chicken. As a kid, I remember watching my mom skin and cut chicken; I remember thinking that I was never going to do that myself. Crazy, I know!
Never say never! Having moved to Scotland earlier this year, with a higher cost of living, I am working on new ways to lower our food costs. And guess what ... whole chickens are less expensive.
Maybe you are like me and have never tried to tackle a whole chicken. Well, I'm hear to share my experience. It may encourage you to try it for yourself.
I was initially inspired by this recipe, Crock Pot Rotisserie Style Chicken, but had to make a few adjustments to fit my needs. I have now cooked chicken five or six times and have gained some level of confidence.
My crock pot is only 3.5 liters (about 3.75 quarts), so I needed a much smaller chicken than this recipe called for. Our local store carries 1.55 kilogram (3.4 pound) chickens at a great price, especially if I buy more than one. I normally cook one right away and freeze the other for a future date.
I pull out my chicken and all the ingredients, and after mixing the spices in my extra shaker, I prepare to tackle the chicken.
Some people are much more picky about skinning their chicken. I don't like the idea of cooking the chicken in its skin all day, but I am not going to spend much time getting every bit of skin off.
I give myself about 5 minutes, and quickly remove all I can with a pair of scissors and a sharp knife. I skin the breast and the back first, then work on the legs if I still have time. I rarely skin the wings; it just never seems worth the effort.
You will also want to make sure you remove any innards and the neck that may be inside the chicken. Some stores put this stuff back in the chicken so you can use it. The chickens I buy normally only have the neck (though I did find a tail in the last one ... weird).
This chicken is ready to go into the crock pot. I put it in with the breast up so I can sprinkle and rub in the spices. The legs are still up so I can stuff it and turn it over for cooking.
I normally stuff one small onion (cut in quarters or eighths) and two or three peeled garlic cloves.
The chicken is cooked with the breast down, to keep the meat as moist as possible. For a chicken this size, I normally cook it about 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.
I don't have any "finished product" pictures because the chicken literally fell off the bone. It makes for easy serving and de-boning, but doesn't look pretty for pictures.
My family loves eating this chicken with rice and veggies. And even with this small chicken, there is always enough left for a few wraps for lunch and at least one other dinner recipe later in the week. I normally plan for some kind of soup or maybe chicken enchiladas to use up the rest.
A few more hints ... it is easiest to de-bone the chicken as soon as possible after cooking, although I have also refrigerated the leftovers and waited until the following day because of time constraints. If you do the latter, you will need to warm the chicken before trying to remove the bones.
The last two times I followed Keeper of the Home's lead and made broth with the left-overs. I even started a bag in our freezer for veggie scraps (carrot skins, onion ends, celery leaves, etc) to use in my broth. Making broth takes a little more work, but is especially good when I am making a soup with the remaining chicken. If I'm not using it right away, I simply freeze it in jars and save it for another time. It thaws quickly and easily in the microwave.
So that was my journey of how I overcame my fear of chickens! Hope you are inspired by my story, or at least amused by my irrational fear!