This recipe fills me with delight. Really, the reason I bought a slow cooker was to be able to have something cooking all afternoon that would make the house smell wonderful. Well, I had to go out to the shops yesterday after my chicken was in the cooker, and it was cold and wet and grey outside, but when I opened the door to come in, the house was warm and bright and had the most wonderful aroma of roasting chicken. Perfect.
I’ve never pot-roasted a chicken before, but this will certainly not be the last time for me. Done in the slow-cooker like this, the chicken becomes so tender that it literally falls off the bone – I was wondering how to carve it, but when I went to pick it up, it just fell apart into pieces: leg, thigh, breast, wing, and so forth.
You can basically serve this with the cooking vegetables, bread and aioli (allow me to emphasise the importance of the aioli – it really makes this dish); because I had randomly invited some people around to dinner, I served it with roasted parsnip and potatoes and baked cauliflower as well. There were no complaints.
Best of all, once we had eaten, I just returned the bones to the pot with the cooking liquid (which, I might add, had become abundant), a litre or so of water, and some vegetables and chicken skin I’d kept aside earlier, closed the lid, and let the slow cooker make chicken stock while we had dessert and I wrote up my market post from yesterday. And today’s lunch was the best chicken and mayonnaise sandwich I have ever had…
NB: No photos, I’m afraid. I didn’t think I’d be recording this one – I had no idea it would be this good – and the one flaw in this recipe is that it is really not photogenic…
Your Shopping List8 garlic cloves, peeled 12 shallots, peeled 2 carrots, peeled and quartered 2 leeks, trimmed, washed and halved lengthwise 2 celery sticks, quartered 1-2 cardoons, chopped into lengths about 2 inches long 6 small jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and halved or quartered (use potatoes if you are scared of jerusalem artichokes, but they do go lovely and silky and make everything taste like artichoke) 1 sprig of rosemary 2 sage leaves salt and pepper (if you have a herbed salt and pepper mix, it would be great here) 1 chicken (about 1.5 kg) – free range, if possible 1/2 cup white wine 1/2 cup water a few strands of saffron Aioli (recipe below) or roasted garlic mayonnaise
Now what will you do with it?
This is so easy. Put all your vegetables in the bottom of your slow cooker with your rosemary and sage. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.
Get your chicken and remove all the extra flappy skin from the ends, and remove the neck and any giblets. Put the neck and skin in a plastic bag in the fridge to go in the stock later (recipe for that below, too). Rub the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper or your herbed salt mix.
Pour the water and white wine into the cooker, and strew the saffron threads artistically over the whole.
Set your cooker to low and cook for 5 1/2 hours. Don’t forget to switch it on, or your already late dinner will be even later. (If that comment makes you wonder just what time we had dinner last night… the answer is indeed, ‘even later’).
To serve, use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken and vegetables onto a platter. (Leave the liquid in the cooker – you are going to be making stock, remember.) The chicken will carve itself. Serve with aioli and good bread, but if you want some roasted veggies with that, I won’t be the one to dissuade you.
Crush 2 cloves of garlic and mash in a bowl with 1/4 tsp salt. Beat in 2 egg yolks (put the egg-whites aside in the fridge for meringues or macarons) and 1 tsp of Dijon mustard. Then you are going to need 1/2 a cup of extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 a cup of canola oil, which you might as well put in the same measuring cup, really. Beating the egg mixture madly with a whisk, slowly drizzle in the oil. By slowly, I mean, continents will move. You can get away with a steady (but very thin) stream so long as the egg keeps on moving, but it’s a lot safer to incorporate the oil really slowly, at least for the first half-cup. By the time you have half a cup in there, the mayonnaise should be starting to get quite thick, and by the time you are done, if you are like me, the mayonnaise will have more structural integrity than the chicken does after cooking. Stir in 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, and pat yourself on the back, because you just made mayonnaise, which proves that you must be a completely awesome cook.
Look, you don’t have to make chicken stock with the leftovers, but it is literally five minutes of your time in the kitchen and one extra strainer to wash, and you wind up with something that will flavour all your stews and soups and risottos beautifully in future. This stock has a definite artichoke flavour along with the chicken, which is rather nice. Also, you get to feel all virtuously thrifty. What’s not to like?
If you are feeling extra flash, brown the chicken skins you set aside before, to render their fat a bit. Return them to the pot with has the cooking liquid for the chicken in it. Put all the bones and carcase from the chicken into the pot, and add in a peeled and very roughly chopped carrot, a halved celery stick, a bit more saffron, if you like, an onion (peeled and halved), a halved tomato, and some parsley if you have it. Then pour in 1.5 litres of water, or fill the cooker to its ‘full’ marker, whichever comes first, put the lid back on, and cook on slow for 2-3 hours.
Strain the liquid into storage containers and refrigerate or freeze. If you refrigerate it overnight, you can skim off the fat before freezing. Frozen chicken stock keeps for three months; in the fridge, I’d want to use it within 3 days.
Make someone else do the washing up. You deserve to rest. Or to make meringues, if you prefer. But either way, the washing up is not your task.
Apparently, you could make this chicken in a pressure cooker in 20 minutes at high pressure! But do make sure your pressure cooker is large enough – they should never be more than 2/3 full. I will definitely be trying this, and will report back to you.
Other variations – well, you can vary the cooking liquids, herbs and vegetables pretty much endlessly. A Greek variation might replace the sage and rosemary with oregano, add a few halved lemons part-way through, and use potatoes instead of the artichokes and cardoons. I’m not feeling creative right now, so that’s all you get.
If you can’t eat egg, Diana Henry has a wonderful recipe for Apple Allioli in her book Food from Plenty. Instead of using egg-yolk, you slowly beat olive oil into a purée of stewed apples and roasted garlic. Sounds weird, but is actually quite amazing, and to my surprise, the emulsion does make a thick, mayonnaise-like sauce.
This time last year…Review: Gingerbread: Timeless Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Dessserts, Ice Cream and Candy, by Jennifer Lindner McGlinn Recipe: Pasta Carbonara, my way Recipe: Flavoured Butters