Crock-Pot Roasted Chicken

It’s hot. Really hot. Maybe you’ve noticed? The 90+ degree days, the sticky, oppressive humidity, the languid, heavy-as-a-blanket air? While our friends in the Pacific Northwest shiver in the fog and rain, wondering if summer will ever come, here in the Northeast we are suffocating under a heatwave that is only the beginning: weather forecasts call for increasing heat & humidity until Sunday. I’m a Northern girl, of Northern peoples: my Scottish, Irish and Finnish grandparents did not provide me with the DNA to cope with this kind of weather. I’m decidedly cranky in the heat: I whimper. I lay about like a limp noodle, reading old stories of crisp, cool English garden parties, and munching on lime popsicles every hour. What I don’t do? Cook.

Unless I can manage to get myself out of bed before 6:00 am (a rare feat on the best of days), it’s far too hot to turn on the oven. Far too hot, especially, to turn on the oven to roast a chicken: yet that is exactly what I needed to do. In the cooler days of last weekend, I had pullled a whole chicken out of the freezer to thaw, intending to roast it on Saturday for dinner. But by Saturday night it was not fully thawed, and I was busy making soba noodles and frittata for a World Cup Final viewing party. By yesterday, that chicken had been in the fridge for more than three days: it needed cooking, and it wasn’t going to outlast this heatwave. But the thought of cranking the oven up to 400 degrees for over an hour? <shudder> No thanks. I thought about chopping it up and putting it on the grill, but my deck gets full Southwestern sun all afternoon: it was hot enough to fry an egg out there. I thought about attempting to butterfly the chicken and going the faster, broiling, route: but my knife skills are legendarily poor and firing up the oven to 550 degrees for “only” 30 minutes didn’t seem like a great alternative. Enter Facebook.

I kvetched about the situation on the Local Kitchen Facebook page: how was I supposed to get this chicken cooked when it was already too hot to move? Our great community on FB jumped in with jokes, suggestions and ideas, as usual; and one commenter, Julie, suggested the Crock-Pot:

Brilliant! It seems obvious, but somehow I hadn’t thought of using the Crock-Pot when I don’t want to heat up the house with the oven. I haven’t had the best success with my Crock-Pot since receiving it last year for my birthday: I’d made a few things; a somewhat uninspired African chicken dish, some really mushy red beans, a disaster of an apple butter that cooked for three days; and I hadn’t fallen in love. I felt like the dish was always better when I made it on the stove, or in the traditional oven, and since I work from home, and can check on long-cooking dishes during the day, the convenience factor was not a big plus. But I had not thought of the summer-cooking Crock-Pot advantage: it can be on for hours while adding little to no heat to the room.

So I dug that chicken out of the fridge, rinsed her off, patted her dry, sprinkled some salt & pepper. Snipped a few herbs from the planter on the Back Deck Inferno. Rousted an orange out of the crisper drawer. Tucked it all inside my Crock-Pot, complete with handy-dandy roasting rack, set the timer for 4 hours, and went back to work. By 2 hours it was start to sizzle and smell good. By 3 hours it was popping, the orange smell was intoxicating, and I was getting hungry. By 3 hours and 45 minutes it registered 175 degrees on my thermometer: I popped it under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp & brown the skin (turning on the broiler for 10 minutes was a good trade-off as the white, limp chicken skin out of the Crock-Pot was not appetizing), et, voila! Dinner. Decidedly moist, deliciously orangey, herbily-infused, appetizingly-browned chicken dinner. With a reduction sauce that was truly outstanding, minimal oven-on time, and even minimal dishes to wash. Crock-Pot, you are my new best friend.

Inspired by Julie Spry, on the LK Facebook page.

———————————————————–

Crock-Pot Roasted Chicken

INGREDIENTS

  • one 3 to 4-lb whole chicken
  • about 1 tsp coarse salt
  • about 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 an orange, quartered
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

METHODS

  1. Rinse the chicken, removing any organ meats from the cavity (discard or reserve for another use), and pat dry. Sprinkle lightly with salt (use less than you normally would for an oven-roasted chicken, otherwise your reduction sauce will be too salty) and pepper. If you have the time, allow to rest on a clean plate and come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  2. Squeeze one or two of the orange sections into the cavity of the bird, then stuff the squeezed orange sections in. Crush the fresh herbs a bit, between your hands, to release the fragrant oils, then add these to the chicken cavity. Truss the legs together, to keep the bird compact, then transfer to the Crock-Pot, using a roasting rack if you have one (if you do not have a roasting rack, you can try to raise the bird out of the eventual juices by placing on a bed of root vegetables, using a sling of foil, or some heat-safe prop to raise the chicken body, like a couple of ramekins, cookie cutters, or Ball jar bands). Squeeze the remaining orange sections over the top of the bird, then add them to the bottom of the Crock-Pot. Cook on HIGH for 3 and 1/2 to 4 hours (other recipes suggest LOW for 6 to 7 hours) or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads at least 165 degrees F.
  3. Lift out the chicken using the roasting rack (or two sturdy wooden spatulas) and transfer to a clean plate. Place a heavy, oven-safe skillet in the oven, with the highest rack set below your oven’s broiler, with enough room for the chicken and at least a few of inches of space. Preheat the broiler, and the skillet, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the pan is good and hot: then carefully transfer the chicken, breast up, to the hot skillet and place under the broiler. Broil for about 7 minutes, watching carefully and adjusting the pan position as necessary to yield a nicely browned skin on the top of the bird. When browned, remove from oven, transfer back to the plate, tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 – 20 minutes before carving.
  4. In the meantime, pour the accumulated chicken juices from the Crock-Pot into a medium saucepan, scraping the insert to get up any browned bits. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust flavorings. Serve carved chicken with hot reduction sauce.

Serves 4.

OPTIONS

  1. Instead of browning the chicken under the broiler, you may opt to simply finish roasting the chicken in the oven in order to crisp up the skin. If this is the case, I would remove the chicken from the Crock-Pot at a meat temperature of about 150 degrees F and finish in a 400 degree F oven (probably 20 – 30 minutes). You could also crisp the skin on an outdoor grill, if it is simply too hot to turn on the broiler!
  2. Of course, the flavorings for roasted chicken vary wildly: any of your favorites will work. I did really enjoy the orange reduction sauce, however: I think citrus worked nicely in this method.

STORE

Refrigerated, for up to 5 days. Make sure to save the carcass (and neck, if you get it) for homemade stock.

SEASON

Year-round, but this technique is wonderful for summer, when you don’t want to heat up the house with the oven.

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23 comments

  1. And here I was about to give away my own crock-pot on Freecycle… I think I’m going to have to dig it out now and put it to work! Even though my climate isn’t hot (being that cool and crisp British summer you mention) this is a great idea for saving those evening hours :)

  2. As simple as it is, I’m so glad you posted how to do this! Sometimes, I prefer to not do the thinking… I am also appreciative of the “breast up” directive in step #3. When my husband and I were first married, I was banned from cooking any form of whole fowl, as I invariably always cooked it upside down.

    It did get me relegated to the much more entertaining and creatively challenging side dishes at holidays, which I’m grateful for.

    Thanks again!

  3. Tanya – I’m jealous of your crisp, cool British weather right now. Please send some our way!

    Casey – Sometimes the easiest recipes are the hardest to find: everyone assumes you know how to roast a chicken. But I will admit: I’ve roasted more than one bird upside-down. Live & learn! :)

  4. LK, Thank you so much for mentioning me! I follow you on facebook but I’m sad to admit I haven’t followed your blog as much, actually it’s never hit me that you had a blog! :( But, after reading several of your posts today, I WILL definitely *bee* following!
    Thank you again!

  5. Dollum – Yep. I stuff a couple of slices in the cavity of the bird then toss the rest into the bottom of the crock pot. They flavor the sauce nicely, then you pick them out before reducing the sauce.

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  7. Dee G

    Another idea is to add more fluid and poach the birdy in the crock pot. You get meat to make into salad and stock at the same time…and no broiling necessary. But that chicken looks mighty good…even though it’s 100º out.

  8. Amanda

    Before our central air was installed I was cooking in a turkey roaster and crock pot but those were putting out a lot of heat. I started putting them out on the porch to cook and call it my summer kitchen. Even though they are small these appliances can still put out quite a bit of heat!

  9. Judy

    Want to make it even better?? Put some butter, herbs, & orange slice (I use lemons) under the skin of the breast. Awesome!!

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  11. Sallie

    Thanks for this post! I am right now roasting a chicken in the crockpot a-la’ the foil sling! No crisping in the oven, because I’m going to make a thick roux with chicken broth and mix all together with carrots and noodles! A roasted chicken flavor for chicken & noodles. Thanks!

  12. What do you think about broiling and crisping the skin before the crockpot cooking? Would it still get soggy? I think it might – I love this method but my chicken always falls apart and is impossible to manhandle into a pan and the broiler, but I love skin. (yes, I know this is gross.)

    • There’s nothing gross about skin: it’s my favorite part of the bird! But sadly, I don’t think the pre-broil will work; you’d maintain the color (which would be better than nothing) but not the crispness. You could try the tinfoil sling method, or just line the whole crock with heavy-duty tinfoil and lift the cooked chicken out that way to plop it under the broiler. Doesn’t have to be neat to be broiled…

  13. zumbida

    okay, reading this makes me feel like a digital thermometer could be justified. I’ve been wanting to try roasting a bird in the crockpot. Thanks for the finishing broiler touch idea, and the orange sounds lovely. I’ve been successfully making apple/fruit butters in my crockpot. First I chop the fruit (leaving skin & seeds on) and put it in the crockpot & cook on high with the lid on until fruit is soft. Then remove and run through the sieve to remove skin & seeds. Put back in crockpot with spices and sweetener if desired, and cook with the lid ajar (key!) til thickened, stirring every 30 min. or so as needed. To keep lid ajar I prop it on two knives or chopsticks. Hope that helps & you’ll try it again!

  14. rpachter

    Yes. Very good! Also recommend acquisition of an inexpensive (>$50) countertop convection toaster oven for roasting.

  15. kelley

    I have a bunch of bone-in chicken thighs that need a-cookin’ I may try this method as it is way too hot and humid for me to use my oven! Any thoughts of how to adjust this recipe?

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