Now, a confession: I’ve had a life-long fear of slow cookers. We never had one growing up, and the thought of something cooking while I was out of the house for the day made me nervous. Plus, so many recipes I’d seen relied heavily on processed foods — a bottle of this, can of that, packet of something else. But with two kids and an ever increasing number of after-school activities, it was well past time to conquer my fears and embrace the slow cooker. Then, I saw Aviva of The Scramble mention that she’d bought her first slow cooker, and had formed a “slow cooker support group” with another local blogger, Laura of Mother Would Know. They let me tag along (via Twitter) and we first made a slow cooker pot roast that was easy and delicious. The second recipe was for a whole chicken, simply rubbed with spices and cooked with onion — no liquids or anything else.
Like Laura, I made many tweaks to the original recipe. My five-year-old is sensitive to pepper, and the recipe called for black, white and cayenne. I omitted them all and upped the paprika instead. (And used a smoked Spanish paprika.) And then I added a lemon, quartered, with the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. It infused the chicken with even more flavor and the meat was remarkably juicy when the chicken was finished.
There was one other change I made that I probably wouldn’t do again. I had a half can of Great Northern beans leftover from something else, so I dumped them in thirty minutes before the end of the cooking time. There was a lot of liquid in the bottom that I figured they’d cook in …. but it didn’t occur to me that that liquid was largely grease. The lemon juice helped, but I probably wouldn’t include the beans again. Aside from that misstep, both kids ate the chicken without complaints, so that’s a definite win in my book. We had this for Valentine’s dinner, so I served it with sweet potato tots and strawberry-watermelon salad for an all-red meal. In the future I’ll add a little green to the menu.
Recipe: Slow Cooker Paprika Chicken
Makes 4-6 servings.
- 1 (3.5-4-pound) roasting chicken
- 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 teaspoon thyme
Mix together salt, paprika and thyme in a small bowl. Remove giblets from chicken, if included, and pat chicken dry. Rub spice mixture into skin, and inside cavity. (Optional: place chicken in a large plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.)
When ready to start the slow cooker, arrange onion slices and lemon quarters across bottom. Place chicken on top, cover, and set slow cooker on low. Cook for 5 to 6 hours, until juices run clear when you cut into the leg. (Mine took 5 1/2 hours.) Remove chicken to paper-towel lined platter to absorb some of the grease from cooking and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
If you’re a slow cooker fan, please tell me your favorite things to cook. More ideas are definitely welcome!