Despite how wonderfully inexpensive they are, I've always been intimated by whole chicken. Until my mom gave me a simple recipe that showed me how simple cooking one in the crock pot is.
Here is the basic recipe, adjust as you wish:
Place 1 whole chicken (~4-5lbs) in the crockpot. Make sure to remove the bag of giblets from the inside. I throw these away personally, but that's entirely up to you!
Squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lemon over the chicken. Tip: to get more juice from the lemon (or any other citrus) roll it on the counter a few times, applying pressure with your hand.
Sprinkle some Italian Seasoning over the top. I love McCormick's Italian Seasoning Grinder.
Add 2-4 optional ingredients:
Chopped: onion, carrots, celary, and/or potatoes are all wonderful additions. If you're going to serve the veggies from the crock pot, slice them more thinly (1/4 inch is best), if you're just going to use them for flavor, feel free to leave them in large pieces.
Cook on low for 7-8 hours. My crock pot will cook a 4lb bird in 4-6 hours on low, and while I have done it this way, I prefer the flavor and tenderness that comes with longer cooking.
This week I cooked up one of the chickens I bought during Whole Food's 1 day chicken sale. At 1.69/lb for organic chicken it was a great deal. My 4.25lb bird yielded 6 generous cups of meat that I bagged up in portion sizes to use in casseroles, soups, fajitas and stir frys. I'll be honest with you, picking all that meat off the bones is not worlds most attractive job, but the flavor and tenderness make it totally worth it!
Last night I made chicken 3 quesadillas from 1 cup of meat. They were so filling, David and I couldn't finish them. Although the recipe I used was super simple, they tasted better than anything I've eaten at a restaurant! So here's your bonus recipe, if something so simple can be called a recipe : )
1 cup shredded white meat chicken
2 cups shred cheese (cheddar, mexican blend, etc.)
~1 tblspn butter
Heat a frying pan to medium high. Melt a sliver of butter and place tortilla in pan. Sprinkle cheese and chicken over tortilla, fold over and continue flipping until golden brown spots appear and cheese melts. Place on pan in oven set on warm, repeat with the following 2 tortillas. Serve with sour cream, salsa and guacamole to complete the experience.
Sadly, I keep forgetting to take pictures of my Friday Favorites. Maybe next time!
I almost forgot to mention my very favorite part of cooking a whole chicken: home made broth! If you're time crunched, you can strain and freeze the juice the chicken makes while cooking as a thick broth (I thin mine with about a cup of water when I turn it into soup) and stop there. However, I like to make my bones do double duty. I put them back in a pot on the stove, add carrots, onion and celery, cover with water and let it simmer for at least an hour. More broth! It makes the best soup you've ever tasted : )