The great thing about the crock pot is that you put whatever you want inside, and it basically does all of the work for you. Not only did I cook my whole chicken in the crock pot, but I also put it in frozen! Yep, completely frozen and hard as a rock. Yet, somehow it was the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth chicken I have ever had in my life! Please keep in mind that I am talking about one of those 3-4 pound chickens. Not a 15-20 pound bird! Whether you cook it fresh or frozen, the chicken will be incredible!
Since this was my first time cooking a frozen chicken, I did a little research before I attempted this. Coming from a culinary background, I wasn't sure how safe it would be to cook a frozen whole chicken in the crock pot all day. There are some people who think this practice is very unsafe. This is because many foods need to reach a certain internal temperature within a certain amount of time. The general rule of thumb is to not leave out unsafe foods (meats, etc) for more than four hours. Bacteria starts to accumulate as food sits. Over the course of time the bacteria starts growing faster and pretty much anything left out longer than four hours is a plate full of food-borne illness. Nasty, right? So my only concern was how fast the chicken was going to cook. Every crock pot may be different and you can easily gauge this, using a food thermometer. My food thermometer is something that I always keep around. I got my digital food thermometer over four years ago at my local swapmeet for $5! It works as good as the day I bought it.
Now, before I move on, I need to say that I do NOT recommend putting anything frozen into the oven to cook. Ovens vary greatly and many have different hot spots (which is why some baking recipes tell you to turn your pan during cooking) so your food will not cook evenly. Which makes the risk of bacteria growth very high. Also, I would never cook a very large chicken or turkey frozen. The bigger the bird, the longer it is going to take to cook on the inside. Larger birds should always be thawed before being cooked.
I cooked my chicken on the 'High' setting instead of low. I let it go all day, though I checked on it frequently. Two hours before we were even ready to eat, I wanted to see how the whole thing was looking so I lifted it with a fork and this is what happened...
It was so tender, it was already falling apart. Another concern for some with cooking a frozen bird is that some whole chickens come with the giblets inside. Usually, the smaller chickens that are no more than 4 pounds, don't have that problem. However, always take caution and check your chickens!
If you plan on using a thawed chicken, you can season your chicken before cooking for greater flavor. Also, quickly browning the bird on the stove will give it that nice golden color. Okay, now onto the recipe.
Lemon and Herb Crock Pot Chicken
Prep: 10 min. ~ Cook: 7-8 hrs. (on 'High'setting) ~ Total: 8 hrs. ~ Serves: 4-5
1 whole chicken (about 3-4 pounds)
2 cans (14 ounces each) chicken stock
1 cup water
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
Place chicken into crock pot. Season with basil, thyme oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add onion.
Squeeze the juice of two lemons onto the chicken, taking care not to let the seeds drop in. Add chicken stock and water.
Cover and let cook 7-8 hours on the 'High' setting. Check temperature of chicken before serving. Internal temperature should be at least 165° F.
Garnish with parsley and lemon if desired.
You can also use the remaining juices from the chicken to make homemade gravy.