So this is what I’ve been making tons of lately: Crock pot whole chicken with beer gravy. (Slow cooker? I call mine a crock pot.) Like, on a Wednesday. It’s so easy, you don’t need a whole Sunday to devote to what looks like an elaborate meal. Serve with Parmesan roasted broccoli, of course. This goes in the category of #ItsGoodToBeGreg, as in, it’s good to be my husband, who comes home on a Wednesday to chicken with beer gravy and roasted broccoli. And this chicken is fall-off-the-bone delicious.
A few notes on these recipes:
First of all, crock pot times! It may take a try or two of cooking a whole chicken before you figure out how long your crock pot will take to cook it through. My crock pot tends to cook more quickly than most. A five-pound chicken is done in five hours when set on low. But yours may take up to 8 hours, so start checking the temperature (which should get to 165 degrees F) at hour four.
Next, BEER! If beer isn’t your thing, use wine or chicken broth/stock instead. Although even if beer isn’t your favorite choice, the gravy doesn’t actually taste very much like beer, it just has a richness from the beer, so it’s worth giving it a go. Use a nice ale or lager, or really, any beer you think would turn into good gravy.
Finally, the skin! The use of paprika in this recipe is not just for flavor, but for a bit of trompe l’oeil. Because the crock pot doesn’t brown the skin, the paprika gives the illusion of a browned skin, as does the addition of the ground red jalapenos. The jalapenos I add for heat, but you can absolutely skip that (or add your own heat). If you do want crispy skin, when done, transfer the chicken to a pan and broil in the oven for a few minutes. For more information on how to do that, check out this slow cooker whole chicken recipe by The Little Kitchen.
How to make slow cooker whole chicken with beer gravy
for the chicken you will need:
5 to 6 pound whole chicken, giblets removed, chicken rinsed and patted dry
lemon and/or a few sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary used here)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
coarse sea salt
smoked red ground jalapenos (optional)
one 12-ounce beer
for the gravy you will need:
drippings and beer from crock pot
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock (or water), plus additional
coarse sea salt
Kitchen Bouquet Browning and Seasoning Sauce (optional)
To make the chicken:
Spray the crock pot with non-stick spray. Ball up 4 to 5 pieces of aluminum foil and place on the bottom of the crock pot to prevent the chicken from touching the bottom of the crock pot. Sprinkle some coarse sea salt inside the chicken and place the lemon, halved, and the fresh herbs in the cavity. Sprinkle the outside of the chicken with the salt and pepper. Brush melted butter over the entire chicken (the underside isn’t necessary). If you don’t use all the butter, pour the remaining butter into the cavity of the chicken. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, and sprinkle paprika and the red ground jalapenos over the entire chicken. Place the chicken on the foil balls in the crock pot. Take a few swigs of the beer (right?) and pour the beer into the bottom of the crock pot. Heat on Low for 5 to 8 hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers at 165 degrees F and the juices run clear.
To make the gravy:
Place the flour and broth in a jar or Tupperware container and shake really, really well. This will help prevent lumps later. Pour the beer and juices from the crock pot into a sauce pan and skim any large pieces or fat. I prefer to pour everything into my fat separator first, and then into the sauce pan. Heat the juice-beer combo on medium heat until it simmers. While whisking the simmering beer/drippings mixture, slowly pour in about a tablespoon of the flour/broth mixture. Continue to whisk and cook on medium to medium high until the mixture is bubbly and starts to thicken, two or three minutes. Continue to whisk and add more of the flour/broth mixture. Taste the gravy and add some salt, pepper and a few drops of the Kitchen Bouquet, if using. If necessary, add more of the flour/broth mixture to thicken. If the gravy becomes too thick, whisk in additional chicken broth/stock.