Okay, so I wasn't afraid of the chicken itself. I was afraid of buying and cooking it. I mean...it's a whole bird! Sure, it's a great value, but what the heck was I going to do with a whole bird? It was just so intimidating!
Then one day, I faced my fear. I decided to take a chicken home from the store without having a clue about what I was going to do with it once I got it there. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to cook. Now, a few years and many chickens later, whole chickens are one of my favorite things to prepare. And a crock pot makes cooking them a breeze!
I like to put vegetables in the crock pot with the chicken. That way, I don't have to cook a side dish once my chicken is done. (You could call this laziness, but I like to think of it as efficiency). Anyway, on to the cooking!
First, I cut up about 4 red potatoes, a few carrots, and an onion. I put half of the onion off to the side, and put the other half in the bottom of the crock pot with the potatoes and carrots.
Now, get your chicken out of the fridge, take it out of the package, and remove the yucky parts that are stuffed inside. You can save the innards for another recipe, if you choose, but I usually throw them straight into the trash.
Now it's time to give your chicken a bath! No, really. Rinse him thoroughly and then pat him dry with a paper towel.
Whatever you choose, rub it all over your chicken. Don't just sprinkle it on...massage it in. Be sure to get all over the outside of the bird and inside the cavity. I even lift the skin off the breast and reach in to rub the seasoning into the breast meat, too.
Once you're finished seasoning your chicken, put the remaining half of your onion into the cavity and place the chicken directly on top of the vegetables in your crock pot.
Now replace the lid, set your crock pot to low, and walk away. There is no need to add any liquid because the chicken will make its own juices as it cooks.
Bonus: by the time your chicken is done, your house will smell phenomenal!
I cooked this chicken for 7 hours. It was a larger chicken, though...just over 5 lbs. I know not everyone has a crock pot big enough to hold a 5 pound chicken, so be mindful that different size chickens and different types of crock pots will make cooking times slightly different.
If you're unsure whether or not your chicken is thoroughly cooked, use a meat thermometer. White meat is done when it reaches a temp of 165 and dark meat is done at 180 degrees. Be sure not to touch the bone with the thermometer when you're checking because the bone will be hotter than the meat.
Once your chicken is done, gently remove it from the crock pot. Be careful - the meat will likely be falling off the bone and the chicken might try to fall apart on you!
If you want to crisp the skin, you can put the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes. I don't usually do that, since I don't eat the skin, but it does make the finished chicken much prettier.
Now, remove the potatoes, onions, and carrots from the crock pot. They should be insanely flavorful after cooking in the chicken's juices all day.
Now, go enjoy your dinner!
(Don't forget to thoroughly clean your sink and any other surfaces you prepared your raw chicken on!)
Come back tomorrow and I'll tell you what I usually do with the leftover chicken....both the meat and the bones. Nothing goes to waste around here!