You’re going to think I’m horribly simple and boring when I tell you what I do to cook chickens. This is definitely not gourmet. This method is so simple and handy — it requires almost no effort but yields tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone chicken for sandwiches, soups, casseroles, and skillet dishes. It results in a good amount of chicken (because I cook 2 at a time) to put away for future meals.
Seasoning is optional — usually this chicken gets incorporated into other dishes that give the flavoring.
I slow cook 2 chickens at a time. I buy organic chickens (or at the very least, free range chickens). Birds that are raised healthfully are more healthy to consume.
I rinse both birds well and put them in my 6.5 quart oval crockpot insert. Yes, they both fit. See?
I sprinkle them liberally with salt & pepper and any other spices I feel like adding. (Really scientific.)
No need to add liquid; as the chicken cooks, its own liquids will fill up the crock about halfway and it will simmer away, staying tender.
Update 4/10/2010: Now that I buy local, pastured, heritage breed chickens, I cook them breast side down in 2 to 4 cups of water. They self-baste while cooking and turn out moist and tender!
If I start it first thing in the morning, I turn the crockpot on HIGH for an hour or so to get good and hot. Then I turn it down to LOW for the rest of the day.
If I’m a bit behind (yes, it happens), I keep the crock on HIGH from the late morning until dinner time.
The chicken is done when it is falling apart.
I let it cool. Then I take all the meat off the bones. I freeze or refrigerate the unneeded portions and use some of the meat for that night’s dinner. I save the bones to make stock later. I also save the drippings. When refrigerated, the fat will harden at the top of the drippings. I use that for frying eggs or sauteing vegetables or I add it to the stock.