Saturday, 24 March 2012

Crockpot-to-Oven Herb Roast Chicken

I have a wonderful new thing, an electric slow cooker. 'Aubergine' coloured crock pots were on sale on Amazon and I had always wanted one so I could throw some things in to cook before going to work and come home to a good meal. It would be especially useful for pot roasts and things which take a long time to cook.

The first thing I decided to make with the crock pot is herb roast chicken. I adapted this from Bon Appetit Y'all, which is turning out to be a good book for excellent basic recipes like roast chicken and pot roast.

Ensure that the chicken cavity is empty, and devoid of internal organs etc.

Prepare 200ml of chicken stock or you can use water - I made my stock up from half a cube.

Have three bowls prepared, one for the chicken rub, chicken cavity, and onions.

Use a mixture of dried herbs - I used marjoram, sage and thyme - freshly ground black pepper and salt for both the chicken rub and chicken cavity mix. I also added cayenne pepper to the chicken rub mix.

Peel four garlic cloves and add to the chicken cavity mix. Add two dried bay leaves.

Quarter a lemon and remove the seeds. Place on top of the chicken cavity mix.

Slice and wash two red onions. Line the bottom of the crockpot with the onion slices.

Put in the 200ml chicken stock or water.

Put on some plastic gloves. Rub the herb chicken rub mix all over the chicken. Rub the chicken cavity mix all over the inside of the cavity. Squeeze lemon juice into the cavity, and place the lemon quarters inside. Put the bay leaves in.

Lift the herbed chicken into the crockpot.

Put some pats of butter on the chicken - I used Lurpak garlic butter.

Cook on high for an hour then reduce to low and cook for five hours.

Do other things. It was a lovely sunny day so I went to the park with James. We had ice-creams.

Five hours later, return to the kitchen and check on your chicken. It will smell amazing.

It is time to prepare your vegetables.

Turn on the oven and pre-heat to 180 deg Celsius.

I used new potatoes which I washed throughly and boiled.

I really hate peeling carrots so I used Chantenay carrots. All I had to do was top and tail them and cut them in half.

Also washed and boiled these.

When the vegetables are ready, transfer them to a roasting tin with some canola oil, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Prepare a larger, chicken-sized roasting tin.

Turn off the crock pot and remove the chicken to the tin. I put additional pats of garlic butter on the chicken. At the moment the chicken is cooked, but looks a bit pale with soggy skin. As always, crispy skin is the goal.

Put both tins in the oven. Roast until ready and chicken skin is crispy.

Everything is roasting - gravy time. This chicken yields a beautiful smelling herbed lemony chicken stock. Ladle some of it into a saucepan for the gravy.

The gravy is super easy. Heat up the pan of stock and add a slurry of flour and water to thicken it up.

The gravy was kind of fatty so I would recommend that you skim the fat off if possible. I did save the rest of the stock from the crockpot and stuck it in the fridge - I plan on scooping the chilled fat off the top and using the skimmed stock for something tomorrow. I got about a pint of stock from that chicken.

The crispy chicken:



The skin on this chicken in particular is very very good because of the encrusted dried herbs and oven-crispness. I wouldn't skip the last half hour in the oven.

I used a chicken weighing about 1kg. This is the smallest whole roasting chicken available and is the maximum size of chicken that fits in a 3.5L crockpot. Half of the chicken was left even though we ate lots, this yields enough food for four meals and even includes a bonus 1 pint of stock which can be used for all kinds of useful things. The chicken itself cost about £5 so I would say it's definitely cheaper to roast your own small whole chicken than getting separate chicken parts, and it makes eating the next day a whole lot easier.

Lemon garlic butter sea bass

One of my favourite newly-discovered ingredients is Lurpak garlic butter. It's butter with crushed garlic - not garlic-flavoured butter, as so many garlic butters are.

I used it to make a really easy meal - lemon garlic sea bass, smashed roast new potatoes and a salad.

The sea bass will be pan fried which will take very little time, so first wash and boil some new potatoes and smash them slightly with a potato masher. They should be a little crushed but not totally smashed to little bits and definitely not smushed like mash potatoes.

Put them in a roasting pan with freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper and canola oil and put that in the oven.

Then prepare the vegetables for the salad. I used gem lettuce, radishes, tomatoes and spring onions, but use whatever you like.

Dried and ready to dress:

Now it is fish time.

Place two boneless sea bass fillets skin side down. Grind black pepper on the meaty bit.

Slice two garlic cloves.

Make slits down the length of the fish and insert the garlic slices.

Melt the garlic butter in a pan. Fry sea bass fillets on each side until done and flaky.

Lift the fillets onto serving dishes.

Add a good sized knob of garlic butter to the pan. Cut a lemon in half, squeeze the lemon juice into the pan. Stir, and reduce.

Remove the potatoes from the oven. They should have crispy bits. Crispy bits are the key.

When the sauce is the consistency you like, pour sauce on the fish fillets. It will taste very sour in the pan but tastes great over the fish.

At this point dress your salad - I didn't want it to be soggy so it's the last thing I did. I used a simple balsamic vinegar type dressing.

It was very tasty. The yellow sauce on my fish is the lemon garlic butter sauce, and the darker brownier sauce is a creole honey mustard sauce:

It makes a simple and delicious weeknight meal that requires minimal involvement and is something I would make again.