Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Slow Cookering

Ok, so probably that isn't a word.  But, to just say, "slow cooking" isn't quite accurate enough.  I mean, you can cook slowly in the oven, but in my case, I used the slow cooker.  So, slow cookering. :)

I have owned a slow cooker (or we have owned) for probably 30 or more years.  Way back when I bought a Crock Pot for my husband. He wanted one for - well, to cook with.  I can't say as I recall him ever actually using it - maybe, *MAYBE* once, when he made chili.  But I could be misremembering that...   I know that I used it when making chili.

I think, honestly, that I've used that particular slow cooker more often for making home made baked beans.  The actual crock part comes out for "easy cleaning", which also makes it quite handy to use as a bean pot. :)

Some years later, a relative gave us a slow cooker for Christmas.  It didn't last long, before the element burnt out, and it wouldn't heat up.  It was a sealed all-in-one unit...which I took apart, so I could use the crock part.  Unfortunately, though, it has a plastic lid, so it is only partly useful.  Until its death, I did use it a few times, to transport chili or stew (and one time, mashed potatoes) to potluck dinners.  I also used it for keeping soup and/or sauces warm at dinner parties.  When it died, I realized that it was a good thing to own two slow cookers, so requested one for Christmas.  A more modern version of a removable crock. Larger than the first one, too.  And, one time, while browsing at Superstore, discovered a very affordable slightly smaller slow cooker.  It, too, has a removable crock.  It also came with a nice large rubber o-ring, that wraps around notches in the handle then goes across the (glass) lid to the other handle, to lock it down for transport to potlucks.  It has done its fair share of chili, too.

See a pattern forming?  I own three slow cookers, but I don't do any real cooking in them.  I decided a year or so ago, that it was time for a change.  I have been checking recipe books at the library, at thrift stores, and I've been searching the internet for some.  But I never really did anything more than keeping chili or stew warm without burning.  Until yesterday.

I finally got brave.  I took a chicken out of the freezer yesterday morning, gave it a quick three minutes on defrost in the microwave to make it easier to get out of the wrapping, then I seasoned it with a couple different seasoning mixes, dropped it into the cooker, poured in some chicken stock, dropped a glop of butter on top, and let 'er go.

Slow cooker roasted chicken.

At the end, while I made gravy, I put the chicken on a cookie sheet and stuck it under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up the skin.

When cutting some, my husband said the meat was dry - which made me concerned I over-did the broiling.  As soon as he put the first bite in his mouth, though, he admitted he was wrong, and that the chicken was indeed moist and tender :)  I think he was fooled when the meat was falling apart instead of being easy to slice!

Anyway - here's the slightly more detailed (only slightly, as some things I never really measure) "recipe".

Turn slow cooker on high to pre-warm, while seasoning chicken.
Small whole chicken, still frozen (roughly 5 pounds- I buy the whole chickens in a bag from Superstore, that work out to about three chickens in a bag for about $20, or 2 for around $15, so about a $6 chicken)
Seasoning to taste:  I shook on some "Keg Steak Seasoning" and some "Club House Smoked Applewood" seasoning.  I also chopped four small cloves of garlic, and dropped them in on top of the chicken.
Add butter (depending on how "fatty" your chicken is - if you use that "DunnRite" brand, I wouldn't add any extra fat; in fact, I would thaw the chicken, and remove the excess fat that is always in there.  I have never had such nasty greasy chicken as I have from that brand!) to taste, placing it on top of the breast.  In my case, I wanted to wash the butter dish, so I ended up using about a quarter cup.  It seemed to be just about right, though.  Pour one cup of (home made) chicken stock into the bottom of the cooker.  Place lid on, and allow to cook on high for several hours.  I started the chicken from frozen between 10 and 11 am.

After four to five hours (I did it around 3 pm) ladle off the excess liquid, reserving it for gravy.  Continue cooking the chicken until it starts to brown, and begins to "slouch". (touching the chicken with the ladle knocked one wing loose; the legs soon slipped down from the body).  Reduce heat to low/warm.

When ready to serve, remove from cooker, and place on baking sheet, place under broiler in oven for five to ten minutes, to crisp up and further brown the skin.  Serve.

To go with it, I made rice, steamed green and yellow beans from the garden (a gift from a dear friend's garden) and the gravy - I poured off the layer of fat into a pot, added flour to make a kind of "roux", then added the rest of the juices from the chicken.  Whisked it in, added a little bit of salt to taste (I don't cook meat with salt anymore; I learned it dries it out fast!!) and cooked until thickened.  Gravy on rice sounds strange, at least to me, but it sure tasted good!! :)

And one of these days, I'll remember to take pictures of the food!!  Before it becomes a pile of leftovers on the serving dish or in the pot... ;).  We don't get so formal as to use the fancy serving bowls and platters for just the two of us; it is usually just help your self from the cooking pots ;)

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