Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Crock Pot Whole Chicken

Yesterday I posted one of my favorite comfort foods which I hope you have a chance to try soon!  Another favorite food of mine is chicken.  Oh I know how borrrrrring!  Well that may be true if you are in a rut.  But if you keep changing your chicken recipes and plan ahead just a tad, you’ll be able to get 2 meals from one chicken, have your own stock and take it easy on chicken dinner night number two!

I'm talking basic whole bird crock pot chicken; so easy and you'll be able to have chicken soup, chicken salad or even chicken tacos the next day!  Seriously, your prep for the crock pot chicken is maybe ten minutes and you don’t have to look at it again for 7-8 hours.  I’ve got to tell you how perfect this is for those days when the kids have after school activities and you are the chauffeur!

I’ve organized a zucchini tomato gratin and oven roasted new potatoes to go along with the crock pot chicken. 
The gratin is double sized so that I can use the veggies in a frittata or country omelet giving me another super quick and easy dinner!

Ingredients for Crock Pot Chicken:

1 3-4 pound chicken

½ lemon

Fresh herbs: rosemary and parsley 2 branches each, fresh thyme and oregano 6 stems each (these amounts are very flexible; sometimes my herbs are abundant and I use more sometimes I need to stretch them a bit)

1 tablespoon salt

3 Tablespoons olive oil

Take the whole chicken and wipe it dry with paper towels.  I do not wash the chicken because of the chance of contaminating your kitchen with small splatters.  Any bacteria will be eliminated in the cooking process.

Stuff the cavity with 1/2 lemon and ½ of your fresh herbs. Rub chicken with olive oil and salt, place in crock pot on low for 7-8 hours.

Remove from crock pot to platter and serve with zucchini/tomato gratin and rosemary roasted potatoes.  Both dishes can be baked at the same time and are super easy to put together.

Ingredients for the gratin:

3 zucchini

1 onion

3 tomatoes

1 cup bread crumbs

1 cup grated parmesan

½ cup vegetable or chicken broth

2 cloves garlic

4 T. butter melted

Method:

Slice the zucchini, onions and tomatoes

Chop the garlic very fine

Layer a baking pan with the onions, zucchini and tomatoes.

Pour the stock over the veggies

Sprinkle with the garlic, cheese and bread crumbs in that order

Top with the butter

Bake for 45 minutes in preheated 400 degree oven



How to use the bones (leftover carcass) for chicken stock or soup.

After dinner, remove all the meat from the bones (and skin if your family does not eat it) and return the bones (and skin) to the crock pot along with 1 each: onion quartered, carrot peeled and rough chopped and one stalk celery rough chopped, 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper plus 5-6 cups water. 

Cook on low overnight and you have a lovely chicken stock ready when you wake up.

Pour the stock through a strainer and discard the veggies. 

Chill in the fridge until you get home from work or the fat has risen to the top and solidified.

Remove fat and discard.

From here you can add finely chopped veggies (carrots, beans, onion, zucchini) uncooked rice or potatoes for the starch and any remaining chicken meat.

Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the veggies are cooked (the smaller you chop your fresh veggies the faster this soup will be ready) and serve with crusty country bread slices topped with grated cheese that has been melted under the broiler.

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