If you’re getting into the spirit of slow cooking but don’t own an electric slow cooker, don’t let something little like a cord get in your way. Slow-cook a whole chicken in your oven and produce a dish that is virtually a guaranteed success. Slow-baked chicken is worth waiting for because it produces tender, juicy and practically fall-off-the-bone chicken, making the technique a close rival of brining. When you slow-cook even a 4-pound whole chicken, you might have leftovers, but you’ll definitely have requests for an encore.
Set your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the chicken in the roasting pan. Pour about 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pan, or until the water reaches a level of about 1 inch.
Intensify the slow basting process of the chicken by stuffing the cavity with spices and juices. Use a combination as simple as lemon wedges and garlic cloves or lemons and onions. Or try some sliced lemons and limes and yellow or red peppers. Either way, grab a handful of each and spread them inside the bird.
Sprinkle your chicken with paprika and salt. Make a butter glaze with melted butter, salt, minced garlic and a dash of lemon-pepper seasoning in a bowl. Add a dash of thyme or rosemary, if you like the flavor. Make enough to coat the chicken thoroughly, plus a little more to baste it twice while it cooks.
Slow-cook the chicken for between 45 and 60 minutes per pound. For an average-sized, whole chicken weighing 4 pounds, this would require a cooking time of between three and four hours. This may seem like a wide gap, but it does allow you to decide how tender you want the chicken to be. The longer you cook it, the more tender it will become. In fact, you could expect virtually the same result if you were to cook the chicken on "high" in an electric slow cooker for between three and four hours. The "high" setting on a slow cooker is equal to an oven temperature of 300 degrees.
Check the internal temperature of your slow-cooked chicken. It should read at least 160 degrees, though you may wish to prolong the cooking time until the temperature reaches 180 degrees in the thigh of the chicken. Add a crispy edge to your chicken, if you wish, by turning up your oven to “broil” for about 10 minutes. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before slicing it.
- As you mull your choice of side dishes, take stock of another benefit of slow-cooked chicken: it matches up equally well with hot potato dishes and cool pastas.
- Remember that conversion charts work both ways. In other words, if you find a recipe that calls for an electric slow cooker, you can convert the cooking time to an oven.
Mary Wroblewski earned a master's degree with high honors in communications and has worked as a reporter and editor in two Chicago newsrooms. She launched her own small business, which specialized in assisting small business owners with “all things marketing” – from drafting a marketing plan and writing website copy to crafting media plans and developing email campaigns. Mary writes extensively about small business issues, and especially “all things marketing.”