As I told you last week (here), Morphy Richards recently sent me through their Ultimate Slow Cooker Cookbook to review and, while several recipes leapt out at me, the one that I really wanted to try was the Butter-Basted Whole Chicken because it's something I'd just never thought of cooking in a slow cooker. Well, today was the day I decided to try it out. The recipe states that it needs 5 hours on high or 10 hours on low so I set it off at 1pm, just after lunch, ready to serve for tonight's dinner.
The recipe calls for butter mashed together with lemon juice and zest but I decided to try out some Zesty Sumac (which I reviewed here) instead. This is one of the spices from Terra Rossa, who explain : "Sumac is a red berry that has an intense lemony flavour. Use it to add a lemony taste to salads and meat. Ideal for kebabs!" I love the fact that it also adds some interesting colour.
You can either smear the butter all over the outside of the chicken or push it under the skin. That's something I never usually do because it sounds a bit Mastercheffy but I decided to go the whole hog today, thinking that the butter would just run off into the stock and be lost otherwise. It was actually much easier and nowhere near as yucky as I expected.
Well, fast forward five hours and this is what you have. The two disadvantages of this style of cooking that I predicted were the lack of crispy skin (which I figured wouldn't really matter as I avoid the skin now anyway, since my Thinking Slimmer SlimPod - see here - has been reprogramming my brain !) and a rather anaemic looking chicken and, I have to say, my fears did come true.
It doesn't really look as appetising as a crispy, golden brown roast chicken that has just come out of the oven. It does smell delicious though and the spiced butter under the skin spreads right out infusing the whole of the breast, which is often a bit bland and dry.
I had put some leeks and carrots in the stock under the chicken which came out deliciously tooth tender and moist, packed with flavour because they had been infused in the chicken stock and juices during the cooking. The chicken was so tender that you could literally pull it apart without cutting it because the meat was literally falling off the bones.
I served it up to the kids with some rice and they wolfed it down ! Empty plates all round is always a good sign.
Sophie said she preferred it to normal roast chicken because it was less greasy and the meat was softer.
Juliette thought it was easier to eat because the meat fell off the bones as soon as she touched it with her knife !
I do miss the crispy, browned skin that you would get on a roast chicken but I'd be tempted to experiment with browning the chicken in a frying pan before putting it in the slow cooker. That is what I usually do with meat that's about to go into the slow cooker but I wasn't sure how this would work with a whole chicken.
On the plus side, I love the fact that you can leave it to get on with cooking by itself with no risk of it burning or drying out, as would happen in an oven. The texture of the chicken is more like chicken casserole than roast chicken. It's great as a mid-week alternative version of a Sunday roast which is lovely to come home to after a long day at work. I also love the fact that the slow cooker can be used for something other than meaty stews for a change !
Other blogposts you may be interested in :