Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Awesome but ugly Crockpot chicken

I love my Crockpot. I know I've only had it for a few weeks, and it seems a bit extreme to be in love after a few weeks. But like I said before, when you know you just know. There has been so much going on in my life lately, and finding time for cooking has been really tough. And as usual, I'm on a serious mission to shed the blubber I managed to accumulate during my summer holiday binge, so I really need proper, healthy food. And the Crockpot can do that for me. In the evening, I load it up with veggies and meat, and in the morning I wake up to a Crockpot full of dinner. Or lunch. Well, healthy, proper, good food anyways. The only problem is, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night to the drool-inducing scent of cooking meat. And I just want to grab a spoon and dig in. So far I have been able to resist, but I'm sure one of these nights I will sleep-eat. You know, kind of like sleep walking, but eating instead of walking. Oh, how I wish I could sleep-burpee. That would be great, being able to exercise in your sleep, and then have it all over and done with in the morning. Well, sometimes when I wake up before six am for bootcamp, and head out to the park for a 6.15 am start, I almost feel like exercising in my sleep. Of course, after being made to run for several minutes with a tyre on my back, I don't feel quite like I'm asleep anymore.

Well, enough about working out and back to the more interesting things. I just got home from the gym, and had the first taste of the Crockpot chicken I cooked recently. And I just had to write a post on it immediately. The best thing about this recipe is that it's absolutely failsafe. Even if you never cooked anything in your entire life, there is no way you can fail with the Crockpot. Meat, veg and some fluids, whichever you prefer. Give it a good eight hours, and it's done. Kinda like magic. There is just one downside with Crockpot food... it looks terrible. It tastes great, it's easy and convenient, but it most certainly doesn't make the most appetising photos. Sorry about that. But trust me, beauty is only skin deep!

Crockpot chicken (serves 4):
1 small chicken (mine was 1.3 kg)
6 parsnips
2 onions
1 glass white wine
1 chicken stock pot
1-2 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp black pepper
big bunch of thyme

The howto:
Put the chicken at the bottom of the Crockpot, and top with thyme. Peel parsnips, and chop them in half. Place on top of the chicken. Slice the onions thickly and place on top. Mix the white wine with the stock pot, mustard, pepper and pour over. Add some water if you feel like you want more liquid in the pot. Cook for eight hours on low.
The verdict:
There is no easier way to cook. It takes five minutes or so to set everything up, and then you can go on with your life for the next eight hours. The chicken cooks until it literally falls off the bone. I had problems getting it out of the cooker, it just kept disintegrating. I guess some people would prefer to take the skin (or at least the majority of it) off before cooking to make it more healthy. But keeping the skin on gives a wonderful, albeit quite fatty, broth. If you feel like being a bit fancy, you could strain the broth, and maybe cook it with a bit of cornflour to make it thicken into a proper sauce, the juices from the chicken with the thyme and mustard make a wonderful sauce. I couldn't be bothered to actually do all of that, so I just used the juices from the bottom of the crockpot and poured them over the meat. Oh and the parsnips, did I already mention the parsnips? They seem to be perfect for cooking in the Crockpot. They don't go all soft and too mushy like many other veg I have tried, but they came out perfect. Perfectly cooked, but not too soft. And wonderfully flavoured from the broth and the chicken juices. This is definitely my new favourite way of having chicken. And I'm pretty sure you can do the same in the oven if you don't have a slow cooker, just make sure you have a good tight fitting lid and make sure there is liquid in the pan at all times and cook in low temperature until the chicken is super tender. Although, I wouldn't leave it in over night. Which is why I lovelovelovelovelove my Crockpot.

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