Monday, 4 January 2010

The BEST slow cooked chicken (and stock)

A bit of background info about this post: I was vegetarian for about 20 years but started eating meat again roughly 3 years ago, I've spent the time teaching myself how to cook meat and think I'm finding my feet a little now (aside from beef which I'm somewhat intimidated by).

I've experimented with cooking chicken (free range, obviously) in a few ways but think I discovered my favourite last night. Like most right thinking people I adore chicken rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper and simply roasted but this has the double edged sword of producing lots of lovely, tasty, fatty, hip expanding crispy skin. Plus making stock from the carcass requires a second cooking process which can be a bit of a faff and often makes stock with an 'overcooked' taste. My solution is to poach the whole chicken in the slow cooker which makes stock at the same time as cooking the bird. It produces achingly tender meat which literally falls off the bone, true the skin is soft and unappealing but at least then it's not a chore to peel it off and give it to the cat.

So this is how I did it:

1 whole chicken
Dried mushroom (I used about 1/4 pack of Merchant Gourmet mixed dried mushrooms)
1 onion chopped
2 roughly chopped garlic cloves (but they were HUGE)
sprinkle dried thyme.
1 Knorr chicken stock pot/cube thingie

Put the chicken in the slow cooker and pour in cold water to about half way up the bird. Add the rest of the ingredients and leave on high for 6 hours.

Carefully remove the bird and don't be surprised if it loses a limb or two in the process. Remove the breast meat to serve Sunday 'roast' style, then once the carcass has cooled the rest of the meat can be removed for stew/soup/tagine the next day.

The stock obviously needs to be strained before use. I got rather carried away with it, last night I used it in the mashed potato, to make gravy and to cook the savoy cabbage in. I stored it in the fridge overnight to allow the fat to solidify which makes it easy to remove. Today I'm using it and the leftover meat to make a chicken and barley broth with butternut squash and savoy cabbage.

I forgot to take any photos of the food last night so in it's stead I've put an ironic shot of an unsuspecting Feathers. I always feel guilty when I'm cooking chicken and catch sight of one of ours through the kitchen window.

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