This is my favorite simple and delicious crock-pot meal, but I also use the same method in my Dutch oven*. It looks like a complicated process, but the "quick and easy" options take about 10 minutes start to finish. The most time consuming step is cutting up your vegetables, which is why I often use those 2 lb bags of organic baby carrots that cost $3.
What you need:
whole roasting chicken 3-5 lbs
2-4 lbs of root veggies of choice
1 yellow onion
garlic, assorted herbs, salt, pepper
butter and/or olive oil
lemon or orange
Start with the best whole chicken you can afford, it really does make a difference. Let sit on the counter to warm up a little while you prep the next few steps.
Gather whatever combination of root veggies sounds good.
- 1 bag each fingerling potatoes and baby carrots if I'm really short on prep time.
- sweet potatoes and carrots cut in 1-2 inch chunks, with finely sliced yellow onion and sweet apple.
- whole baby red or gold potatoes, chopped carrots, and sliced onion
Put your veg in your crock-pot and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, add 1 tsp minced garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper to your tastes. Then add 1 cup of water. Stir to coat the veg.
I have a few different options for seasoning the bird listed below. Pick one and prep it.
Regardless of how I'm seasoning the outside of the bird, I always quarter a lemon or orange and add the fruit + a heaping tsp minced garlic to the cavity. When I have fresh rosemary, that goes inside too.
Get these things ready to go, I try to do all of the "raw meat touching steps" in a row, so you want to have everything ready before you unwrap the chicken.
Before applying seasonings, unwrap your chicken and make sure the cavity is empty (my farmer doesn't sell chickens with giblets, etc, but some do). Rinse the inside and out. Pat the outer skin dry with a paper towel. Settle your chicken on top of the veggies in your pot. I arrange the wings behind the body, but if you're going for low contact, it's not necessary. Then place the fruit and garlic in the cavity and apply your chosen seasoning.
Put the lid on your crock-pot and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. The meat will be very tender and easily separate from the bones. I usually shred all of the chicken immediately, as it is easier to do when warm. You can reserve some of the liquid to make gravy or follow the steps below to make stock**.
HERBED LEMON CHICKEN RUB
3 tbsp melted butter
zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
Mix all together and rub under the skin of the chicken - or on top, I know that process can be gross if you aren't used to it. Then sprinkle salt and pepper to taste on the exposed skin of the bird.
QUICK AND EASY
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Drizzle oil on chicken, then sprinkle on salt and pepper.
SPICY CHICKEN RUB
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
Mix all together and rub either inside or outside the skin.
*Oven roast option: prep everything the same way, but pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. When your chicken and veggies are ready, cook at 450 for 25 minutes until the skin is crispy and brown. Then put your dutch oven lid on, lower the temp to 375 and cook for an additional 90 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to ensure an internal temp of 165 degrees has been reached.
**To make stock:
Put the bones and skin back into your crock-pot with the remaining juices - add some carrots, onions, and celery (save your scraps in the freezer!) - fill with water - and let cook for another 10 hours. Strain and then freeze.