I have to explain a little something about my mother. For as long as I can remember, she’s been making up terms for things. She doesn’t invent new words, it’s more like she reassigns a definition to words we already know. My father used to say he was going to start keeping a list of them all and someday we could have a Cindy Dictionary. As far as I know, he’s never done it.
This is what my mother would call a “real” chicken. It’s real because it came from a farm where you could have seen it running around in the grass before you cooked it. Once recently when I was at her house she informed me that the eggs in the refrigerator were “real eggs” from her neighbor who keeps chickens. (I’ve often wondered why she doesn’t call grocery store eggs and chickens “imaginary,” but alas they are just regular old eggs and chickens.)
Since we are trying to get all the grocery store meat and produce out of our lives, we happen to have had a stock of real chickens recently. There’s just something about a whole bird that makes me want to keep them whole. (And no, it’s not that I’m too lazy to cut them up!) And since I’ve been without a working oven since before Thanksgiving, I didn’t need much of an excuse to haul out the rotisserie.
Nothing fancy here. Rosemary, tarragon, thyme, garlic cloves and lemon slices are stuffed into the cavity. The legs are trussed and the skin is patted dry and salted. That’s it. Into the little turning oven it goes.
I think normally I let the skin get a little darker than this. But I was so paranoid this chicken was going to be tough and dry I pulled it off as soon as the juices were clear. (And in spite of the constant assurances from my husband that this “free range yard bird will be as tough as leather,” I thought it tasted delightful.) He actually said that it tasted just like regular chicken, which, of course, it did. I’m convinced its flavor was more “chickeny” than what we used to eat, but he says it’s all in my head. What I do know is that it was yummy and I felt pretty good about handing my three-year-old a “real” chicken leg.
And speaking of whole chickens, I just have to share this other recipe with you. I’ve had this in my stack of “Want to Try” recipes for over a year…and it did enjoy some internet fame over a year ago, so this may be old news. But it fit the bill for my “whole-chickens-no-oven” situation, so I finally gave it a go.
CROCKPOT 40 CLOVE GARLIC CHICKEN
-1 large broiler/fryer whole chicken (as big as your crock will fit)
-thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley
-fresh ground pepper
-40 cloves UNPEELED garlic
-2 stalks celery, washed and cut into 3 inch pieces
-baguette or french bread slices, toasted (optional)
Place the celery slices on the bottom of the crock. Season the chicken in and out with salt, pepper, and generously with the herbs. Place on top of the celery. Place the cloves all around and on top of the chicken. Cover and cook on low 8 hours.
Remove chicken and celery to serving platter. Remove garlic to small bowl.
-1/4 cup cream
-2 – 3 tablespoons cornstarch
-salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Skim the fat off the liquid in the crockpot. Turn to high. Add the cream. Mix cornstarch with a small amount of water until smooth and add to liquid. Stir, cover and heat until thickened. You can pour some on the chicken and put the rest in a gravy boat.
Serve with noodles or garlic mashed potatoes made from some of that wonderful roasted garlic in the pot.
The roasted garlic can also be squished out of it’s skins onto the toasted bread.
(I can’t remember where I got this recipe since I’ve seen so many different versions of it. I thought I got it here, but her recipe looks different. Another site said that the original recipe was from Rival and came with the crockpot booklet.)
I actually used sliced onions instead of celery – partly because we didn’t have any celery and party because no one in my house really likes it. And I don’t have an “After” photo because I came home after six straight hours of shopping (which is akin to a root canal for me) to a house full of hungry people. It was already dark and in my brain-dead state it took all of my organizational skills to just give instructions on mashing the potatoes and setting the table. But the chicken just fell right off the bone and was probably some of the most tender I’ve ever had. My husband said, “This is a keeper.” I also recommend going easy on the fresh herbs – they can easily overpower the dish and the gravy – you don’t need much.
Yippee for “real” chickens!