Set it and regret it?
October 4, 2012 6:27 PM   Subscribe

Can I combine different chicken parts (thighs, legs, breasts) in the crock-pot, or will it be a disaster?

I am having my parents over for dinner this weekend, and I was thinking about making a chicken dish in the crock-pot, so I can have the oven free to make a roasted veg dish. My mom likes white meat, my dad likes dark. I don't really want to cook a whole chicken in the crock-pot, as I have heard it's unsafe. I was considering making this recipe (scroll to the bottom) or this recipe, using two breasts, two thighs, and two drumsticks, all bone in, skin removed. Is this a bad idea, given that the parts may not cook evenly? Also possibly relevant is that the slow cooker in question holds four quarts. Also, any other tips for ways to ensure that these recipes turn out would be very much appreciated!
posted by to recite so charmingly to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We did a whole chicken in the crock pot once. Safety aside, you will not be able to easily separate the white meat from the dark because the meat will fall off the bones.
posted by mkb at 6:38 PM on October 4, 2012

The only thing you'd have to worry about is the unequal cook times due to different sizes of chicken parts. That's the main reason why you don't want to do whole chickens in a crock pot. Well, that and people always miss pulling out some of the pin bones and find them in a throat.

I'd leave the skin on while it cooks. Skin is fat, which imparts flavor. It'll melt while cooking, coating the chicken in chickeny goodness.

The meat will only fall off the bones if it cooks long enough to have it fall off the bones. If you're really worried about it just use some wax paper as a barrier.

I don't have any suggestions for the recipes. They're all throw stuff in and let it go. Both should turn out well, except the wife says the first one needs more garlic.

Just as a final thought, dark meat is just muscle that the animal actually used while it was alive. Farm raised chickens basically don't have any dark meat since they're beefed up so fast that they're too weak structurally to move much and don't have the room to move around anyway. Meat mixing shouldn't be much of an issue anyway.
posted by theichibun at 6:51 PM on October 4, 2012

Best answer: When you cook something for seven hours it really doesn't matter that some is white meat and some is dark meat, or that the parts are different sizes. It all gets cooked very thoroughly. I've cooked quartered chickens more times than I can count in a crockpot. It comes out very well. Enjoy!
posted by alms at 7:10 PM on October 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'd make a curry or something on top of the stove, with the pieces, rather than in a crockpot (the 40 cloves of garlic recipe will be mush.) I've made this Patricia Wells recipe dozens of times and it's always wonderful.

1 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

About 40 large garlic cloves

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup chicken stock or canned broth.

1. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Place a deep, nonreactive skillet or Dutch oven over high heat, and add oil and butter. When fats are hot but not smoking, add chicken pieces skin side down and cook until skin turns an even, golden brown, about 5 minutes. Work in batches, if necessary, and carefully regulate heat to avoid scorching skin. Turn pieces and brown them on other side for an additional 5 minutes.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Bury garlic cloves under chicken to make sure they settle in one layer at bottom of skillet. Sauté, shaking or stirring pan frequently, until garlic is lightly browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add wine and stock, scraping bottom of pan.

3. Cover and continue cooking until juices run clear when a thigh is pricked, 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve chicken with garlic and pan juices and, if desired, rice or sautéed potatoes.

Yield: 4 servings.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:43 PM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Is this a bad idea, given that the parts may not cook evenly?

Nah. You're basically braising, here -- the meat should the thoroughly tender. I suppose you might notice some textural difference between white meat and dark but it'll be pretty subtle. This isn't like roasting where the white meat could dry out before the dark is cooked through --- it's in there for four hours, it's all going to be cooked through, and the cooker will trap the juices and keep it moist.

Also I'm a little confused why you wouldn't just plop a whole chicken in there if you're going to use two breasts, two thighs and two drumsticks -- as far as I can tell the USDA warns you off cooking from frozen in a slow cooker, presumably because the core of the bird might not thaw and cook through all the way, but if your bird isn't frozen I don't see too much difference between a whole chicken and all the parts of a whole chicken cut into sections.
posted by Diablevert at 8:09 PM on October 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

My friends have roasted chickens in a slow cooker with no problems.

Also a lot of people who prefer dark meat prefer it because its moist, where white meat usually gets dried out. That doesn't really happen in a slow cooker, so if you're really worried just use all white meat.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:15 PM on October 4, 2012

Best answer: I cook mixed chicken pieces in the crockpot all the time and they always come out delicious. It's really a good idea to mix the white and dark meat because white meat by itself can be bland and relatively tasteless when braised, but the addition of the dark meat will give you that yummy chicken flavor you're looking for. I also finally figured out to use chicken stock or broth instead of water for any crockpot recipe - makes a world of difference in the flavor. In general, you should go a little light on the seasonings when cooking in a crockpot because there's so little evaporation that it's easy to over-season the dish, although the 40-cloves-of-garlic dish is intended to be on the powerful side, obviously.

Yummy! Enjoy your meal!
posted by aryma at 1:05 AM on October 5, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for your answers, everyone! I think I will try to find a quartered chicken at the farmer's market. I'll be making the recipe from the second link, but I'll keep the skin on while it's cooking. I'm feeling reassured!
posted by to recite so charmingly at 10:19 AM on October 5, 2012

I know this is a few days after, but it's ridiculously easy to break down a whole chicken. I have one teacher who can do it in 8 seconds. At least that's what he says. Legs and wings come apart no problem. Breasts can be a pain, but if you're slow cooking you can just leave them together anyway and pull the meat off when it's done.
posted by theichibun at 1:55 PM on October 8, 2012

« Older Medical Science Diluted and Shaken   |   Name that 1960's S&M Flick Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.