Nom Nom Paleo

Whole30 Day 5: Slow Cooker Chicken & Gravy

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Being stuck in the kitchen is no way to spend your Saturday. Especially if your mood is: KILL ALL THE THINGS! So today, I’m featuring a miraculously easy, set-it-and-forget-it slow cooker recipe that’ll yield a moist, tender chicken and a thick, savory gravy. That’s right: I said gravy.

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Serve this for supper, and everyone’ll lick their plates clean. Just be sure to save some gravy for later — I promise it’ll come in handy.

Keep reading for the details!

First things first: If you’re new to Paleo and you don’t have a slow cooker, get one pronto. This handy countertop appliance cooks food at low, steady temperatures, allowing you to go about your day without fear of burning down the house while cooking. It’s like having a personal chef who slaves away in the kitchen while you’re out running errands or passed out in bed. With minimal fuss and mess, you’ll have a rich, fragrant, comforting pot of stew or braised meat waiting for you when you’re ready to eat. What could be better?

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Even better: Cheap(er), tougher cuts of meat improve in flavor and texture in the slow cooker because the long cooking time liquefies all the collagen. And with the moisture sealed in, the meat essentially bastes itself in its own liquid — for hours. The result is a pot of flavorful, silky meat. This same concept applies to pork that’s been sealed and roasted in barbecue pits (think Hawaiian kalua pig): Low temperature and long cooking times produce moist, flavor-packed, fork-tender meat.

(Need a product recommendation? My favorite slow cooker is the reasonably-priced Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. It’s a fixture in my kitchen, and an investment worth making.)

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The trick to tossing a whole chicken in a slow cooker, though, is to make sure you don’t overcook the bird. All too often, slow cooker enthusiasts are disappointed with inedibly stringy and powder-dry results. The problem? They: (1) leave the chicken in the slow cooker for more than 6 hours, (2) set the cooker on “high,” or (3) both.

The moral of the story: Don’t do that. EVER.

Instead, follow the steps in my Slow Cooker Roast Chicken & Gravy recipe to the letter. Don’t get creative and figure you can save time by cranking the dial up to the high heat setting. And don’t set the appliance to cook for 10 hours. I really, really, really don’t want you to waste a perfectly good chicken.

Repeat after me: Chicken should be cooked on low for 4 to 6 hours. ONLY.

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Do it right, and you’ll be rewarded with a juicy, succulent bird and tons of gravy that you can freeze for another day.

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Speaking of birds, I bet you have some questions about what type of chicken to buy, right? I sure did.

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Sadly, unless you’re a super-awesome farmer like my pals Diana and Andrew, or you have ready access to farms like Primal Pastures in southern California, your options may be limited.

It goes without saying that if you have access to farm-fresh chickens from a local farm or farmer’s market, don’t pass up the opportunity. But let’s get real: Most folks (myself included) are usually buying chicken from the local supermarket. There, however, the choices can be bewilderingly complicated, or frustratingly limited. The best thing to do is to go in with eyes wide open. To understand what labels like “natural,” “100% vegetarian fed,” “pastured,” and “organic” really mean, you should definitely read this chicken-buying guide from Mark’s Daily Apple.

I love my Slow Cooker Roast Chicken & Gravy, but there are tons of other fantastic recipes you can try. Here are some of my faves:

And don’t forget to check out Holly Woodcock’s30 Nights of Paleo Crock Pot Meals" — an invaluable source of slow cookery awesomeness or PunchFork’s Paleo Slow Cooker Recipes.

What’s your favorite slow cooker meal? Let me know in the comments — inquiring minds want to know!


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel, December 2013)!