Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Rotisserie-style chicken at home

Rotisserie chickens are one of those perfect multipurpose items you can buy on a busy weeknight; they make a great dinner on their own with simple sides that day, and can be used in all sorts of recipes after. The downside for us is that they are typically pretty high in sodium. While home rotisseries are amazing, they're not necessarily practical to keep around...and if you have a slow cooker and a broiler, you can get a whole roasted chicken that's pretty close to that perfect rotisserie texture!

Start with a whole chicken that will fit in your slow cooker. Rub the chicken down with olive oil and cover in a decently thick coat of your favorite spice mix. I usually end up with a mix of fresh garlic and shallots, paprika, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, black pepper, and cayenne. Jerk seasoning is also yummy, and even a simple mix of black pepper and lemon zest is really amazing!

I use mason jar rings to "boost" my chicken off the bottom of the crock pot - this prevents it from just stewing in its juices (balled up wads of aluminum foil work, too).  

Cook on low for up to 8 hours or high for up to 4 hours, depending on the size of your chicken. (I usually start this in the morning before I leave for work, and it's ready when we get home.) When your chicken is cooked, carefully remove it from the slow cooker (in large pieces, if you have to. They get fall-apart tender!) and transfer it to a baking dish or sheet tray under your broiler. Broil the top of the chicken for 5-10 minutes to crisp the skin. 

This makes a great dinner with a simple salad, and doing this at home lets you take it one step further. After dinner, separate the rest of the chicken from the carcass and store it in the fridge or freezer. Take the mason rings or foil balls out of the bottom of your slow cooker (there should be a bit of liquid and fat from the chicken still in there) and put all the bones, pieces of skin, and any little bits leftover back in the slow cooker. If you have any vegetable trimmings or fresh herbs, add them too! Fill the slow cooker with water and turn it back on low. Let this cook overnight, and in the morning strain the liquid out into ziplock bags or containers. 

This home-made chicken stock is great for soups, sauces, gravy, and cooking all sorts of other things! It's a great way to add a little more flavor and nutrition to rice, beans, and anything else you typically cook in plain water. I freeze mine flat in ziplock bags on baking sheets and file them upright in my freezer.

That's it! Dinner, leftovers, and home-made stock are all made from about 20 minutes of work total.

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