Roasting a chicken in the slow cooker is a piece of cake, even if you’ve never roasted a chicken before. It also makes a week night roast an easy option with great leftover options for the following night (I’m thinking stir-fry, curry, enchiladas, pilaf….the options are endless).
You will get tender, moist, flavoursome meat and, if you use the leftovers, it’s the cheapest way to buy chicken by far. What you won’t get is crispy skin on top – sorry – but you won’t have to baste and can pretty much ignore the thing while it cooks. I didn’t call this easy slow cooker roast chicken for nothing, you know! The flavour options are endless and I’ve listed some ideas at the end but here’s my basic version:
1 2-3 lb roasting chicken, preferably free-range, preferably free-range AND reduced (I’m my mother’s daughter!)
6 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup/ 100ml chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
Create 5-6 balls out of tin foil, about an inch or 3 cm in diameter. Place these in the bottom of the slow cooker, spread out. Your chicken will sit on these to stop it swimming in the pan juices. Wash your chicken inside and out, then pat dry with kitchen paper. Place it into the slow cooker sitting atop of the foil balls. Make a large snip in the skin of each breast and slip a tablespoon of butter and a third of the garlic under the skin. Massage your chicken a little as if it was a bit tense (wouldn’t you be at this point ?!?!). Put a third of the garlic into the bird’s cavity and, having first rubbed the rest of the butter onto the chicken’s breast, legs and wings, scatter the final third of garlic liberally over the bird. Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt (not necessary if your butter was salted) and some freshly ground pepper. Pour the stock carefully into the slow cooker, avoiding washing the garlic off the chicken.
Cook on Auto for 5-6 hours or, if you don’t have an auto function, cook on High for an hour, then Low for a further 4-5 hours. I believe you can also cook it on Low for 8 hours but I haven’t tested this myself.
This was gorgeous, especially with the pan juices tipped over the top. The meat was tender without getting to the “woolly” stage – I’ve had some very overdone slow cooker chicken following some recipes – and the garlic was savoury without overpowering the chicken’s own flavour. I’d say using a free-range chicken was a good move here as they have so much extra flavour. I always snap them up when I see them with a reduced sticker on and keep them in the freezer for later use. I immediately had some great ideas for flavour variations and one very special adaptation to this recipe is coming up very soon….we swooned over it last night!
You could flavour this with paprika or lemon zest instead of garlic, use Mediterranean herbs, put half an onion, a lemon or maybe even an orange in the cavity, use white wine instead of stock, add sour cream to the pan juices etc., etc., etc. Whatever flavours you usually use for roast chicken will work but rev them up slightly to allow for the slightly dumbing down effect the slow cooker can have on flavour.
I’ve seen many recipes for slow cooker whole chickens give you a much longer cooking time than I will. I don’t like an overcooked chicken. I find they get a bit stringy and have a “woolly” taste. This means that, even on low, I won’t do a chicken dish if I’m out all day unless I’m doing pulled chicken for tacos. (Recipe under development )
Many crockpot recipes are from the US and most American recipes will assume you are using a chicken that’s about 50% than you typically buy here, i.e 5lbs instead of about 3lbs which explains the confusion.
I’ve used the recipe here dozens of times and it works a treat in my 4.5 L oval Breville.