I can’t remember the last time I roasted a whole chicken. We don’t have whole chicken very often, but it works out as a cheap way to feed us for several meals, especially if done in the slow cooker.
Yep, you can cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker. It’s not roasted, obviously, so if you like the crispy skin you would be missing out. I put a chip frying mesh thing I bought in Poundland in the slow cooker first to make it easier to lift the chicken out once cooked because the chicken falls apart! Then place the chicken breast down in the slow cooker, pop the lid on and switch to high for 4 hours. It doesn’t need any water but if you were using it for a specific dish, you could of course cover it in seasoning first. I tend not to as then it be seasoned later to suit whatever dish I want to use the chicken in.
If you are having roast potatoes and veg and therefore have the oven on anyway, it probably makes sense to put the chicken in there too. However, the key part of my tale is that, when slow cooked, the meat falls off the bone.
After cooking a whole chicken and once our son is in bed, I sit at the kitchen table with the leftover chicken, a tupperware box and a food bag, picking my way through to get all the meat off the bones to use in a few more meals. Do people still do this? It’s not a pleasant task. Your hands get very greasy. You discover tiny bones that are kind of freaky. But it means you’re using (almost) all of the chicken you bought. I used to do this if I had roasted a chicken but it is far easier to remove the leftover meat when it has been slow cooked. The meat is so soft that you can easily get all the meat off with just your fingers.
A medium chicken, which is 1.75kg and supposedly serves 3-4 people, easily stretches to three days of main meals for us, with a sandwich filling or two. Admittedly I bulk out these meals with extra veg but I do that anyway with meat to keep the cost down. I’m sure that most people who buy a whole chicken will take the meat they can see off before throwing the carcass out, but really you get so much extra meat by taking 5 minutes to pick it all out, and slow cooking it makes that process much easier.
I haven’t got to the stage of cooking the carcass to make a chicken broth – I don’t think I could handle the smell. But if we move to the house we like there is an utility room where I could have said chicken broth brewing in the slow cooker with the door closed. Then I really would be getting my money’s worth.