Put your hand up if you'd like to spend less time cooking at dinner time and still have a nosh-up feast? I seem to recall shooting my own hand in the air in response to this question (paraphrased anyway - with nods to Morgue and Giffy :) )
So when the opportunity arose to get a Slow Cooker we took it. I have heard from lots of people how much they love theirs, but I have to admit I've been a bit dubious about the ability of a single 5.5litre pot and element to replace all the skill and technique of a good cook. I have decided that that, however, is missing the point. The Slow Cooker is a tool, and you make of it what you will. But aside from questions of time and technique, the cooking test had to be done. Never one to bow from a challenge, I dove in feet first, offering up a whole chicken to the Cooker. I did a bit of research to get an idea of cooking times and suchlike, then had everything ready and cooking by 10am. Eight hours later, I pulled out the chicken, and had to go back in four or five times to get it all, because it was absolutely disintegrating. I slung the meat and veges under the grill for 10 minutes while I did some fresh veges to go with it, and dinner was served.
Slow-Cooked Paprika Chicken
Take one whole size 14 Chicken. Pat dry with paper towels, then prep with freshly ground salt and pepper, a few good lugs of olive oil, a few grated cloves of garlic, and about 3T of paprika. Toss it all about in a bowl to coat throughly. Place a few crushed cloves of garlic in the cavity. Quarter an onion and place it on the bottom of the Slow-Cooker Dish, then position the chicken on top of it, with the breasts facing up. Turn the Slow Cooker on High for 2 hours.
Prep some roast veges: 1 Onion, 2 Kumera, 6 Potatoes, and about a 1/4 of a Pumpkin. Prep these with feshly ground salt and pepper and a few finely chopped cloves of garlic (great stuff for warding off those winter bugs, thats why I use so much of it!). Place on top of the Chicken and turn the Cooker down to Low for a further six hours.
After 8 hours, remove the Chicken and Veges to an oven tray and place under a hot grill to brown lightly.
Serve with fresh steamed veges. I had some trouble making gravy with the chicken liquid, so I won't pretend to advise on that just here. Maybe after a bit more practice I can provide a recipe for Slow Cooker gravy.
As usual, I used the Chicken bones, vege scraps and the liquid to make a stock, and kept a few extra roast veges as a soup base. Yesterday, we did Lamb Chops in the Slow Cooker, and they were great. Will post that shortly.