Iron Chef RavinDave
February 25, 2008 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Need tips on cooking Chicken in a Crockpot.

Okay ... over the past few weeks, I've been having startlingly good (for me) success making ribs in a slowcooker. I used an ultra-simple batchelor-centric recipe: Cut slab of ribs into 8-9 pieces, submerge in BBQ sauce diluted a bit with water. Simmer on LOW for 8 hours. I tossed in a few onion slices, adding a touch of brown sugar & cider vinegar along with various spices ... works perfect.

I want to try something similar with chicken.

QUESTION: I'm thinking 8 hours -- even on LOW -- would be way too much cooking time for chicken. Am I right?

Any other pointers (or QUICK-n-EZ crockpot recipes) welcomed!
posted by RavinDave to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Not too much time at all; I often make chicken that way. It comes out tender and delicious.

My secret weapon for crockpot chicken is cranberry and almond with some basil leaves; it sounds a little weird but almost always comes out delicious. Like you, I'm a crockpot minimalist -- that's about as complex as I usually get (and some crockpot recipes get REALLY complex). I prefer to integrate minimal stuff, then season in the last stages.
posted by Shepherd at 12:18 PM on February 25, 2008

My dad does a chicken-breasts-in-mushroom-soup slow-cooked dish in the oven; the name basically is the recipe. It bakes for 2-4 hours and still comes out really tender, so you could probably successfully slow-cook chicken too.

Watch out for food safety if you do chicken, though. I'm sure others will have more details on the safety aspects; my rule of thumb is that if you get it to 165 degrees F fast and hold at least that temperature throughout cooking time, you should be safe.
posted by pocams at 12:18 PM on February 25, 2008

We cook whole chickens in a crock pot often. We've found that the answer to keeping the chicken from drying out is cooking it in a as small of a crock pot as possible. 8+ hours on low and it comes out quite tender.
posted by zsazsa at 12:29 PM on February 25, 2008

Response by poster: From this (and other stuff I'm still reading online) it looks like 3-4 hours is a good general rule of thumb.

Shepherd ... You mean like canned cranberries and shaved almonds?
posted by RavinDave at 12:31 PM on February 25, 2008

Response by poster: zsazsa ... when you say whole, you mean one-piece whole or cut-up pieces whole?
posted by RavinDave at 12:33 PM on February 25, 2008

RavinDave, both types have worked fine in our experience.
posted by zsazsa at 12:39 PM on February 25, 2008

Best answer: Be careful with chicken bones in a crockpot, because they can go all crumbly and really horrible and can ruin the dish. Use boneless chicken.

One of my favourites is a cheat's chicken cacciatore. Chicken breast, cut into chunks, thrown into the slow cooker with a can of ratatouille (I'm not sure you can buy canned ratatouille in the US, but I know Trader Joe sells frozen, which will be fine). Chuck it in in the morning, dinner is done when you get home. All you have to do is cook some pasta.

Also try pulled pork, Ravin Dave. Cook a piece of pork shoulder in the crockpot, pouring a can of Coca Cola (not diet, you need the sugar) over it. Cook it for 8, 10 hours. Lift out the pork, remove the blade bone, shred the meat, add it back to the pot along with a good shake of BBQ sauce. Cook for another hour or so, then serve on buns.
posted by essexjan at 12:42 PM on February 25, 2008 [3 favorites]

I haven't made this one yet, but it's printed and I'm just waiting for grocery day:

Whole Chicken Crock Pot Recipe.
posted by peep at 12:43 PM on February 25, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, my ... essexjan may have just given my my project for the week.
posted by RavinDave at 12:45 PM on February 25, 2008

We have had problems with chicken bones when the chicken reaches the falling-apart tender phase. My solution is to use just thighs - one large bone and cheaper than using deboned meat. I like to cover with cream of mushroom soup, some rice wine or white wine, and mushrooms (carrots and onions are good too.)
posted by metahawk at 12:48 PM on February 25, 2008

If you're making a creamy chicken dish in the crock pot, may I suggest adding some rosemary? Fresh is best.
posted by owtytrof at 1:00 PM on February 25, 2008

RavinDave: yes, sorry -- canned cranberries. I imagine fresh would give you something pretty bitter. I use whole almonds and chop 'em, but shaved would be just as good.

Really, I recommend just trying stuff in moderation; worst-case scenario you add some BBQ sauce and make chicken sandwiches with the delicious, delicious meat.
posted by Shepherd at 1:11 PM on February 25, 2008

Best answer: I was just looking up slow cooker recipes yesterday myself, and there are a ton of good ones in some previous threads:
Best-ever slow-Cooker Recipes
I want a man with a slow... cooker.
Cooking more with yonder crockpot
posted by jewishbuddha at 1:17 PM on February 25, 2008 [4 favorites]

It's *such* an 80's dish, but you can't beat a good coq au vin.

For maximum effect, serve prawn cocktail as a starter. Whilst listening to Huey Lewis and The News.
posted by ReiToei at 1:17 PM on February 25, 2008

Also, if you're going to get into slow cooking, I'd highly recommend learning how to make a curry. I've used this Rogan Josh recipe to rapturous reception before. Use the best/freshest ingredients you can get your hands on.
posted by ReiToei at 1:19 PM on February 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

We did this just last week. We used a whole chicken and cooked it on low for 8 hours. I chopped up some onions, and put them on the bottom, followed by some cubed potatoes and a few loose carrots. The chicken went on top. I had to smash it down to fit the lid on.

I slathered a bit of olive oil over the chicken and sprinkled everything with salt and pepper. I also stuffed the cavity of the chicken with garlic. It was soooo good.

8 hours was not too long in my experience. I had no trouble with bones falling apart. In fact, once I stripped the meat off the bones, I used them to make a stock.
posted by Eddie Mars at 1:20 PM on February 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

A friend introduced me to the following turkey recipe, you can substitute in chicken and it's almost as good

Katy's Turkey
1 Turkey breast (a few pounds, Trader Joe's sells these, you have to cut them off the bone to fit in the pot, but this isn't hard)
~1 lb baby carrots
~10 shallots (peel like garlic cloves)
some thyme (~2 sprigs fresh if you can get it, otherwise I'll guess 1-2 tsp dried)
~2ish cups dry white wine

Put the turkey breast in the bottom, then dump the veggies and thyme on top, and add enough white wine to at least partly cover the turkey. Cook on high for ~3-4 hours.

Notes: All the numbers in here are approximate. You can adjust almost any of them to taste, without much going wrong, as long as the turkey ends up cooked. At the end, you'll have delicious turkey in a broth flavored with the wine, veggies, and thyme, plus semi-caramelized shallots and carrots. If you want, you can reduce the broth by boiling it for a couple minutes until the volume decreases, then pour it over individual portions. I recommend using a large proportion of veggies - people end up bickering over who gets the last few.
posted by lorimt at 1:24 PM on February 25, 2008

A Heston Blumenthal roast chicken recipe, adapted for the slow cooker.
posted by milkrate at 3:14 PM on February 25, 2008

We don't have a crockpot, but do slow cooking in the oven. The secret to getting intensely good flavor, imho, is to minimize the amount of liquid added. Adding no extra liquid at all is best when possible, because that way the ingredients cook in their own juice. Chicken+onion+carrot+mushroom+celery, or whatever takes your fancy, with herbs and spices. The cooking has to start very slow, and needs some salt to bring out the moisture.
posted by anadem at 5:24 PM on February 25, 2008

Not an answer, but a related question that may gain further useful information for the original poster:

Whenever I cook chicken in the crock pot, it turns out basically tasteless. Whatever sauce, herbs, veggies and such I put in there is fine, but the chicken itself... it's like the essence of sauce and such doesn't permeate the chicken.

I kind of want to say it's "dry", but it's not really dry - it's more like it's blandly steamed.

This contrasts to everything else I've cooked in the crock pot, such as beef and pork, which always turn out awesome.

Am I doing something wrong? Do I have to chop it into smaller bits or something? I'm guessing I typically cube it about 3/4 inch on a side or so.
posted by Flunkie at 5:55 PM on February 25, 2008

Id you still have your manual it should tell you how to best do chicken in that particular model. There are several types of crockpots/slow cookers and each one cooks differently. Unfortunately there is no standard when it comes to crock pots. If you have lost your manual, you can usually find them online by the manufacturer. It's very important to check that first and foremost.

I'm a crock pot ho and cook just about everything in there. Chicken, even with bones (I saw a post above about that) is fine, but you must check your manual first. Probably that user didn't.

Good luck! ♣
posted by magnoliasouth at 8:47 PM on February 25, 2008

IF... that first word should've been if. *sigh* Sorry about that.
posted by magnoliasouth at 8:48 PM on February 25, 2008

Dark meat. Dark meat. Dark meat. You can do okay with chicken breasts, but they dry out easily and tend to get stringy with long cooking. Thighs are what you want: they have more flavor anyway, and they stay moist indefinitely.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:04 PM on February 25, 2008

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