It seems like a Crock-Pot and a chicken are a match made in heaven. A perfectly cooked chicken makes the ideal foundation for any family meal, and a Crock-Pot offers the convenience to make it happen. Where many home cooks get tripped up is figuring out how much, if any, liquid to add to the Crock-Pot, along with the chicken, before they close the lid and get on with their day.
The Whole Bird
When your goal is to cook a moist and delicious whole chicken in your Crock-Pot, there really is no need to add any liquid. Season your chicken how you like, arrange a bed of sliced onions and carrots on the bottom of the Crock-Pot and position the bird on top of them. Then, arrange other vegetables around the chicken, set it to the temperature suggested in your recipe and close the lid. The fat in the chicken will produce more than enough liquid to keep everything moist and give the option for a tasty gravy if you like.
Less Than the Whole Bird
Crock-Pot chicken meals don't all use the whole bird; in fact, there are dishes from all around the world that utilize breasts, legs, thighs and bite-size pieces as part of the slow-cooking process. Dishes like Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Curry, Chicken Cacciatore and Chicken Chili all work well in a Crock-Pot, and they all require liquid as part of the preparation and the finished product. For these kinds of meals, liquid will be part of the slow-cooking process.
There's No Escape
Aside from the fat content in the skin, the other reason you won't need liquid to cook a whole chicken in the Crock-Pot is that the tight-fitting lid keeps the steam inside, which increases the amount of moisture in the Crock-Pot. If you are making a Crock-Pot recipe that calls for liquid -- because many do -- reduce the amount by as much as half to account for this phenomenon, advises "Cooking Light" magazine. The last thing you want is a stew or curry or chili that is watered down.
The Convenience Factor
Convenience is one of the primary reasons that many home cooks gravitate toward using a Crock-Pot to cook meals. Slow-cooking allows you to leave the meal alone and get on with whatever else you have to do, knowing it is taken care of. Of course, part of that comfort is knowing that you've added the correct amount of liquid to the dish you are cooking. It won't be convenient or comforting if you're worried about having dried out meat or wondering if the sauce is thickening enough while you're doing other things. Be mindful of your recipes and keep the captured steam theory in mind, and your chicken Crock-Pot meals should work out wonderfully.
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