I have a lot of chicken in my freezer right now, and before the month is out, I’m going to have to figure out how to store upwards of 60 more chickens. I have a second freezer to store them in, and we’re hoping to do some pressure canning, plus we’ll give some chickens away, but still… I’m going to need to make sure that I keep using up all of these chickens! The natural instinct? Start eating that chicken! And the timing couldn’t be better.
This post is part of “Around the Harvest Table,” a group effort of back-to-the-basics bloggers who have put together a farm-to-table meal using the harvest from our gardens and some old-fashioned skills. I hope you’ll visit every post listed below, because each one of my friends is sharing her recipe for the dish she has prepared for this communal meal – have a seat at our table and join us!
How to make a “roasted chicken” in the crockpot
My recipe is for making a simple “roasted” chicken in the crockpot. Even though I don’t do crock pot recipes as often as I would like, I almost always cook my chicken in a crockpot. I love that it doesn’t use up oven space because when I’m cooking chicken, it’s very likely that I’ve got something else going in my oven and on the stove, and that oven space is vital. I use a large crockpot since we have a family of 7, and often the smaller one is not nearly large enough to fit enough food in it for our meals. I am cooking up a 7lb, 6oz chicken for our meal, which is more than we’ll eat, but that’s fine with me because nothing will go to waste. More on that later.
Alright, start by taking some squares of aluminum foil, and crumple them up into balls and place into the bottom of the crockpot. My pot needed about 6 balls, but I’ve seen others use as few as 4 in a smaller crockpot. Place the chicken breast-side up on top of the foil.
Next, you’ll want to add some water to the bottom of your crockpot, and I always add some lemon juice. Not sure if the lemon does much in this particular circumstance, but I add it anyway. For a large crockpot, I added 4 cups of water, but a smaller one would probably only need 2, just enough to cover the bottom of the crock with 1/2″ of water. And I probably put in about 2 TBSP. of lemon juice.
Then it’s time for the butter. I will add butter one of two ways… either by placing pats of butter all over the skin or by inserting pats of butter underneath the skin. I opted for underneath the skin this time because it will not make the spices run off of the chicken, and it will absorb better into the meat. If you’ve never separated the skin from the meat on a chicken before, it requires a little bit of pressure, and then the membrane that holds the layers together will kind of pop, and you should be able to easily continue to separate the skin from the meat just with gentle pushing from your fingers.
Next, I apply all of the seasonings. I start by sprinkling on garlic and onion powder. I don’t measure it, just use enough to lightly coat the chicken with each seasoning. Then I do the same thing with some dried basil, a little bit of salt, and some dried tomato powder. You can skip the tomato powder if you do not have any (or plan ahead and make some with tomato skins from your tomatoes after peeling for canning… just dehydrate and crush to a powder). You could use any other seasonings you want really, just so long as it goes with those “Italian” seasonings.
Place the lid on the crockpot when you are finished seasoning, and cook on low for 4-5 hours (I cooked mine for about 4 and a half hours). This was plenty of time to cook my chicken, and in fact, maybe I should have taken it out half an hour sooner (closer to 4 hours). My chicken may or may not have lost a wing as it was coming out of the crockpot… definitely a sign of a well-cooked chicken!
While the chicken is cooking…
While the chicken is cooking, you can go ahead and start working on your other preparations. During that 4 1/2 hours, I played around with the tablescape to set up something nice for the family (that probably took me an hour, but I was winging it, so it took a little longer. (Here’s the link to the table runner tutorial… you probably won’t be able to whip one of those out in four hours and make your meal, but you can plan ahead for your next special meal!)
During the rest of that time, I whipped up some raspberry coffee cake and two loaves of pumpkin bread for dessert, made a last-minute run to the local Piggly Wiggly, and then made the Italian green beans and some mashed potatoes. Unfortunately, the only thing I didn’t get a chance to try out SoulyRested’s recipe for Maple Dijon Vinaigrette dressing. I guess we’ll just have to make this meal again soon, while the harvest is still going and make the dressing as well 🙂 I had just enough time to get all of the dishes prepared during those 4 1/2 hours, set the table nicely, and make a 30 min. round trip to the grocery store for a few fill-in ingredients. I’ve talked a bit about some of these ladies in a recent post of mine, but in case you didn’t read that, here are the basics about who made what.
Michelle Curren is sharing her recipe for homemade applesauce with apples from her Missouri lives with her husband in an empty nest on their rural homestead in the Missouri Ozarks. She writes about homesteading, gardening and homeschooling. Her blog can be found at http://midlifeblogger.com.
Michelle Visser was recently at a restaurant where they served a maple dijon vinaigrette, and since maple is her specialty, she obviously had to figure out how to make it at home. She is a New England homesteader and the author of Sweet Maple: How to make maple products & bake with them. Naturally. She’s an ardent fan of all things maple-flavored, a homeschool mom to teens, and a newbie homesteader who lives in a beautiful old farmhouse where she realizes daily that simple joys require hard work. Follow her at SoulyRested.com.
Terri Steffes’ contribution to the meal around the harvest table was a recipe for Italian green beans. Terri lives with her husband in a New Urban neighborhood in historic Saint Charles, Missouri. She writes about food, recipes, good books, travel and gardening, and decorating their craftsman style home. Our Good Life features many aspects for quality living. The blog is found at http://www.terristeffes.com.
Kim Brush has a recipe for a raspberry coffee cake. She lives with her husband and children in mid-Missouri near a tiny town on a few acres. She loves using the abundance that their large garden and berry patch provide. Every year is a new adventure as they try new things that allow them to eat more organic and less processed food. She also loves to share how to make beautiful rag rugs that bring that farmhouse look to your decor! You can find her at http://www.daytodayadventures.com
Kathi Rodgers knew it wouldn’t be much of a harvest table without some kind of pumpkin dish. She is sharing her mother’s “world-famous” pumpkin bread recipe. Kathi and her husband homestead in central Oklahoma, where she strives to live a simple, healthy life and to encourage and inspire you to do the same. Her site is oakhillhomestead.com
Dinner is served
Have your serving plate right next to the crock when you are ready to move. There’s no guarantee that this bad boy will hold up while removing if you’ve overcooked it (well, you kind of can’t really overcook it, even during an 8-hour timespan, but it will slide right off the bone). To remove the chicken from the crockpot, I used some serving spoons inserted into the open ends of the chicken to lift it out and onto the plate. If your chicken has held together nicely, you could stick it in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes to get a nice golden skin, but I didn’t want to risk moving the chicken onto another dish after it lost a wing.
Hopefully, all of your dishes are ready around the same time. The desserts can always come out of the oven a little later than the rest, but it should be fairly easy to time the veggies right, and salad is always an easy side to prepare. Pumpkin told me that the chicken looked like it could have been in a movie… I was flattered. Even if it was missing a wing, it sure did look good 🙂
I’d say we ate a little over half of the meat on the chicken. With so many sides and dessert, we didn’t eat quite as much of it as we normally would, but that worked out fine since I had plans for the leftovers. Doodles struggled to get the last of the green beans off of his plate, but everybody enjoyed it all!
What about the left-overs?
Well, those leftovers would not just get tossed out. That would be silly and wasteful. So it was time to put the remainder of the chicken back into the crockpot to prep it for yet another meal. After I initially removed the chicken from the crockpot, I fished out the aluminum balls and let the water stay in the pot on low with the cover on. Once dinner was over, the chicken went back into the crockpot for some more cooking. I added about 8 cups of water, making my total water input 12 cups. Then I added about 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and threw in some baby carrots and celery that needed to get used up, along with parts of an onion leftover from dinner. I also threw in a few bay leaves. Then I covered it and let it sit overnight.
I should have added some more water to the pot around mid-day on Monday to keep the chicken covered in water at this point, but we weren’t at home mid-day, so I didn’t, and it was still good. I put a colander lined with a dish towel (that I use repeatedly for this kind of thing) and poured the contents of the crockpot into the colander that was set into a large pot to strain the broth (it was more like a stock since I cooked it so long). Then I picked through the remains and got out as much of the meat as I could. I saved half to put in the fridge for another meal on Tuesday or Wednesday and cut up the rest to add to the stock that I had cooked up. From there I added more water and prepared the base of chicken noodle soup. Scott finished by cooking it on the stove and later adding noodles while I was away for a mom’s night off. I was able to use 1 chicken for 3 meals! I love that! I could have also used the leftover chicken meat to make shredded chicken and gravy, and still done the broth, but soup was the right thing to make this time.
If you wanted your roast chicken to take on more of the flavors of the seasoning, create a rub with the spices, lemon juice, and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Rub the chicken down at least a day before you plan to cook it, and store it in a large zip-lock bag in the fridge, or in your crock with the aluminum foil balls in the bottom and covered with the lid of the pot or some aluminum foil (again, in the fridge). You may want to get some of the spices rubbed under the skin as well to really help with infusion.
Don’t forget to check out the links below to find some great recipes to round out your meal around the harvest table!