Food & Drink

Use your slow-cooker to have chicken ready for supper with little work

Sweet and Spicy

A few basic ingredients such as lemon, garlic, onions and tarragon will infuse the slow-roasted chicken with deep flavor
A few basic ingredients such as lemon, garlic, onions and tarragon will infuse the slow-roasted chicken with deep flavor. (Lisa Williams)
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Last spring, in a skit written and performed by Julie Nolke, the Canadian actress warns her past self of the COVID-19 virus. Unable to give specific details, Future Julie drops vague advice from four months into the future.

“Your definition of a pretty big deal is going to change for sure.”

Past Julie listens with eager innocence and curiosity. Millions viewed this one-woman skit on YouTube and laughed ourselves silly.

Seemingly benign lines such as “Put all your money in Zoom” and “You might want to do a Costco run real quick” made us realize our lives had changed in just a few weeks.

Here we are approaching 10 months of a COVID environment. If you could go back to early January, what would you tell your past self?

One of the warnings I might give myself is that nothing will be simple in 2020. Even the most mundane task of going to the store will be a challenge. Meetings. Work gatherings. Recreation. School. Worship. Notions of safety will be redefined. The whole year has felt like moving through mud.

I might tell myself to call one more friend to meet for lunch or coffee, or to host a dinner party.

All of this retrospective wisdom.

I learned that even if you’re working from home, laundry won’t wash itself. I learned you still need to plan supper. It’s so easy to keep reading a few minutes more, answering a few more emails until all of a sudden it’s late and well past time to eat.

That’s when you’re grateful you put a chicken in the crockpot that morning. Waiting on the kitchen counter is a whole chicken, succulent and infused with the flavors of lemon, garlic and herbs. There’s dinner tonight and tomorrow night and maybe lunch, too.

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While I do love chicken oven roasted on high heat with crispy golden skin, such a feat requires watching and a certain amount of proper timing. I usually reserve that for Sunday evenings when I know I’m home and can devote time and attention to prep and oversight. That’s often too challenging for my weeknight schedules, whether working from home or in an office.

But chicken cooked slowly in a Crockpot requires little attention beyond five or 10 minutes to prepare. No need to stuff butter and herbs under the skin, or any other detailed techniques. The sheer length of time and low heat ensures deep flavor and extreme tenderness.

Whether we like it or not, the cold days and nights ahead will ensure some semblance of a lockdown. Your future self will thank you for making this slow-roasted chicken.

Recipe

Workday Slow-Roasted Chicken

A long, slow roast in the crockpot yields a deeply flavorful chicken that is falling off the bone tender. Want it ready for lunch? Start this at bedtime and it’s ready when you get up. Just keep it warm until lunchtime. Or, to serve for supper, put this together in the morning and let it roast while you go about your day. To keep it simple, I like using fresh rosemary or tarragon, but not both together. The fresh mix of “poultry herbs” (rosemary, thyme and sage) are also delicious. The point here is to keep it simple and not have to think too hard or make an extra trip to the store.

1 whole chicken, washed and patted dry

1 to 2 organic lemons, sliced

2 sprigs of rosemary or tarragon, but not both

1 bulb of garlic, (4 to 5 cloves or more if prefer) separated but unpeeled

1 medium or 2 small onions, unpeeled, quartered

Half a bunch of parsley

1 or 2 stalks of celery, cut in half (optional)

1 or 2 whole carrots, cut in half (optional)

Salt

Salt chicken inside and out using about 1 1/2 teaspoons total. In cavity of chicken, place two cloves of garlic, half the lemon slices (squeezing the lemon first) and one spring of rosemary or tarragon. Put remaining lemon slices, garlic cloves and onions in base of crockpot, along with carrot and celery if using. Set chicken, breast side up, on top of the vegetables. Arrange parsley alongside the chicken. Cover crockpot and turn to low setting.

Cook on low at least 8 hours, or as long as 10 hours, depending on your schedule. About an hour before serving, you can baste the breast with pan juices, but this isn’t necessary. Turn off crockpot or reduce to warm setting. You can serve chicken straight from the crockpot or remove to a serving platter. Reserve pan juices to make gravy or put in a glass jar and refrigerate for later use in other dishes. If there are leftovers, remove chicken from bone and place in covered storage in the refrigerator. Keep the bones to use for making bone broth.

Source: Lisa Williams

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