We've got a partnership with the recipe, equipment, and product testing gurus at America's Test Kitchen. They'll be sharing some of their time-tested recipes and technical expertise with us weekly. This week they're sharing how to cook an exceptionally succulent "roast" chicken using a secret weapon: the slow cooker.
Getting a perfectly cooked, juicy whole chicken out of a slow cooker is actually much easier than it sounds. In our testing, we learned that the trick to getting a juicy chicken was to place the chicken in the slow cooker upside down. This was important for two reasons: First, it put the lean breast meat underneath the fattier legs and thighs, so that as the juices and fat rendered from the thighs, they dripped over the breast meat. Second, as the juices pooled in the bottom of the slow cooker, the breast was submerged, further helping the lean meat to retain moisture.
Our whole "roast" chicken is flavored with a fragrant, warm spice rub. To make the spice blend, we combined garam masala, chili powder, garlic, salt, and pepper. But when we simply rubbed the chicken with the spice mixture, we were disappointed with the results. The meat had weak flavor at best, and, even after hours in the slow cooker, the spices had a raw, harsh flavor. We found that the solution was to microwave the spices with a little oil to bloom their flavors before rubbing them onto the chicken.
Distributing a flavorful paste (or sauce) both over and under the skin of the chicken ensures the best taste. To do this, loosen skin from over thighs and breast and rub half of paste directly over meat. Spread remaining paste over skin of entire chicken.
Now our chicken was moist and juicy and had the bold, warmly spiced flavor we were hoping for.
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Garam masala is a boldly flavored spice blend; its potency will vary from brand to brand. Check the temperature of the chicken after 4 hours of cooking and continue to monitor until breast registers 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees. You will need an oval slow cooker for this recipe.
- For the chicken:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- Salt and pepper
- 1 (4 1/2- to 5-pound) whole chicken, giblets discarded
- For the broccoli:
- 1 pound broccoli florets
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- For the chicken: Microwave oil, chili powder, garam masala, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper in bowl, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute; let cool slightly.
- Use your fingers to gently loosen skin covering breast and thighs of chicken; place half of paste under skin, directly on meat of breast and thighs. Gently press on skin to distribute paste over meat. Spread entire exterior surface of chicken with remaining paste and place chicken, breast side down, in slow cooker. Cover and cook until breast registers 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 4 to 5 hours on low.
- Transfer chicken to carving board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve chicken, discarding skin if desired. Serve with lemony steamed broccoli.
- For the broccoli: Microwave the broccoli with 1/4 cup water in large covered bowl until broccoli is bright green and tender, about 4 minutes. Drain broccoli, toss with melted butter tablespoon lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Poultry, Main Dishes
- Serves 4