Lazy Day?….Slow Cook your Whole Chicken!

When people hear that I am married to the butcher they often comment that we must eat well. They are right. But, there are days when it’s hard to convince the butcher to bring home dinner! Yep, it’s true. There are also days where I prefer to start dinner early in the day to prevent that mad rush after school. And then, there are some days I feel slightly lazy, and look for something simple to prepare. So on these days I need to dig into my freezer and come up with something fancy.

Recently, I read that you can put an entire frozen chicken in the slow cooker. I was doubtful, so of course I needed to try it!

I had previously frozen a D’Artagnan Crystal Valley All Natural Chicken, so I dug it out. These Crystal Valley Roasters are already pre-rinsed, giblets removed, and completely trussed. Perfect for popping into the slow cooker directly from my freezer!

I am happy to report; it was simple…and delicious to slow cook an entire chicken! Click through the following images to see how easy it was to prepare a delicious dinner on a lazy day.

The complete recipe is posted below the gallery

Ingredients:

One D’Artagnan Crystal Valley Whole Chicken
1/2 cup of warm water (only when slow cooking a frozen chicken)
1 cup of chicken stock ( I prefer to use Kitchen Basics brand)
6 carrots chopped into rustic size pieces
10 whole cloves of garlic
One lemon cut into 4 wedges
Fresh rosemary, sage and thyme
Freshly ground salt and pepper

1. Start by removing the whole chicken from the package. If you are using a D’artagnan Crystal Valley Chicken, you can place it directly into the slow cooker, since it has already been prepared for you. This is what makes it so simple to slow cook the chicken directly from your freezer. It has already been rinsed, trussed and giblets removed. Fantastic!

2. When using a frozen chicken, you will need to add a half cup of warm water to the bottom of the slow cooker.

3. Set the slow cooker to low setting for seven hours. Close the lid and leave alone to cook. At the three and a half hour mark, add one cup of chicken stock around the chicken. Add the chopped carrots, whole garlic cloves and lemon wedges. Drizzle some olive oil over the chicken, season with fresh salt and pepper. Place your fresh herbs on top and turn heat setting to high. Your chicken will continue to slow cook for another three and a half hours.

4. At the end of seven hours, the chicken should have reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees. At this point scoop the garlic cloves out of the drippings and rub them over the skin of the chicken. Gently remove the roaster from your slow cooker to a cutting board. Do this carefully as it will be very tender. Carve the legs first, then wings, and lastly the breast.

5. For a quick gravy, you can ladle some of the “drippings” into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Whisk in one and a half tablespoons of cornstarch that has been dissolved in one cup of cold water. This will thicken the gravy. Heat through and serve alongside your chicken and veggies.

Some tips:

I used a Crock Pot Brand Slow Cooker with a 6 quart capacity.

You can slow cook a fresh whole roasting chicken by omitting the warm water, and placing all ingredients in the slow cooker at the same time. Set the Slow cooker on low and cook for six hours or to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. ( Place your meat thermometer between the thigh and the breast to get an accurate reading.)

If you will be away from the kitchen, you can slow cook your frozen chicken on high for six hours, adding all ingredients at the beginning. (I use the two-step method because the veggies stay firm, but it is delicious either way.)

 

These twice baked potatoes would make a really great accompaniment to your chicken. http://randsmeatmarket.com/2014/10/10/twice-baked-potatoes-with-lavender-farmstead-cheese/

There is a difference between Pekin and Peking duck!

My quest to learn how to cook every item in the butcher’s case continues. This year I am determined to cook at least one new dish every week. I am inspired by listening to family traditions of others, and love to see how beautiful dinners can bring friends and families together.

The brisk mornings these past few days have reminded me that its time to move from the grill back to the oven. A favorite dish to order when I see it on the menu, is roast duck. I love the way it melts in your mouth, and really consider it a treat, especially when it is served with a sweet glaze! So this week I conquered my fear of roasting a whole Pekin duck….and wow was it simple!

Let me start by saying that I had no idea there was a difference between Pekin and Peking duck! Yep, you learn something new every day…In my research about preparing duck the first thing I realized is that Pekin is a certain breed of duck, while Peking is a famous duck dish from Beijing that has been prepared since the imperial era.

So here we go, with Pekin duck. I asked the butcher to order one up. He brought home a beautiful little D’artagnan fresh, farm raised all natural duckling. The reason he works with this company is that they pride themselves in sourcing Pekin duck from two well-established family farms; each is dedicated to continuing humane farming traditions while incorporating the most modern techniques. Pure vegetarian diet, no antibiotics, no hormones.

For the glaze I used a jar of Stonewall Kitchen Cherry Berry Jam. Simple….yet fancy!

You will need:
One D’artagnan Pekin duckling
One jar of cherry jam or preserves ( I used Cherry Berry from Stonewall Kitchen)
1/4 cup of lemon lime seltzer or ginger ale
Five carrots (peeled)
Five heads of garlic
One bunch of fresh thyme
One lemon (quartered)
3 tablespoons of rice vinegar
Course salt and fresh ground pepper
One 32 oz box of chicken stock (Kitchen Basics is my favorite )
Kitchen string to truss the duck
A meat thermometer…..(I never cook without it)
One really good roasting pan with handles

Pre heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

Start by cutting the tops off of five heads of garlic and placing them cut side up in your roaster pan. On top of them lay 3/4 of the bunch of thyme. This will act as a “rack” to keep your duck off the bottom of the pan.

In a small bowl, mix 3/4 of the jar of Cherry Jam with 1/4 cup of seltzer or ginger ale. Set aside.

Next you will remove the duck from its package and remove the innards that are placed in the cavity of the duck; I placed the entire duck inside a large bowl before opening the plastic since there are some accumulated juices. Rinse the entire duck inside and out under cool running water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place the duck, breast side up, on your cutting board. There will be a longer piece of skin at the neck. Cut this piece off with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Salt and pepper the inside cavity and stuff it with 2 quarters of lemon and 2 whole carrots. Truss the legs together by winding a nice size length of kitchen string around each leg and tying them together.

Place the duck, breast side up, on top of the garlic. Pour the rice vinegar over the skin evenly and season generously with fresh ground pepper and course salt. Pour half the chicken stock into the bottom of the pan along with the remaining carrots and lemons. Roast your duck for one hour, turning the pan at the halfway point and adding additional stock.

After one hour of roasting, remove the pan from the oven and baste with Cherry jam mixture. Return duck to the oven for another fifteen minutes. Baste again and roast for fifteen minutes more, which should bring you to the one and a half hour mark. At this time, remove the duck from the oven and use your meat thermometer to check the temperature. Place the meat thermometer between the leg and the breast to get an internal temperature of 160 degrees. My oven runs hot, and the duck reached temperature by one and a half hours. Since every oven is different, it could take a little longer than that which is why your best friend is that meat thermometer. It works every time!

Once your duck has reached temperature of 160 degrees, remove pan from the oven and place on cooling rack. Use the remaining 1/4 jar of jam to baste the entire duck and cover loosely with foil. Let sit for 20 minutes before carving.

Lucky enough I had the butcher on hand to carve the duck for me. Start by removing each leg by cutting between the leg and the breast and pulling the leg down and outward. Next remove the breast meat and lastly the wing. Serve along side roasted red potatoes and sweet carrots.

I was pleasantly surprised by how simple it was to roast a whole duck; Similar to roasting a chicken although it will be pink it the middle….and that’s ok! My house was filled with a delicious fall scent as the butcher and I enjoyed this yummy meal. I would say that it could feed three people, but if you have big eaters you’d better roast two…

 

Whistlin’ Chicken

As it turns out, two days of hunting down an article about grilling whole chickens, has made it much easier to tear it out, and bring the chicken to the table.

I’m happy to say…..grilling a whole chicken was simple and fancy too!

My butcher recommends a D’artagnan all natural roaster. I marinated the bird in buttermilk for 2 hours, turning it at the halfway point. Don’t Skip this step, it keeps the meat super juicy!

Pre-heat that grill! Over a medium heat, sear the bird on all sides for a total of twenty minutes. Reduce the grill to medium low heat ( 350 degrees if your grill has the handy temp gauge). Grill the chicken for 45 minutes to 1 hour, mopping every 10 minutes with your favorite barbecue sauce. I used Whistlin’ Dixie from Wild Thymes.

The chicken’s whistlin’ when it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees…(use the meat thermometer ….it works every time).

Remove the bird from the grill and let sit covered with foil for 5-10 minutes.

Carve and enjoy!IMG_2314

 

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IMG_2290 So good! The kids will eat it:)