Surviving Dinner – Whole Chicken

Lots of recipes claim they can be cooked in 20 minutes or less.  Some nights are so busy, even that’s too long.  “Surviving Dinner” is a series that is not about good wifeing, mothering, or cooking.  It’s about surviving.  It’s for those nights when you’re tempted to write “fast food” on the menu, but cooking at home will save you a few dollars, a few hundred calories, and loads of mommy-guilt.  Recipes found here can be cooked quickly and have minimal prep and clean-up.  Some may require a little pre-planning, but many won’t.

I love making roast chicken.  There is something about serving a whole chicken displayed beautifully on a platter in the center of your dining room table that makes the meal feel so…elegant.  It’s almost deceptive, really, since roasting a chicken is so easy.

Obviously we’re not roasting a chicken today.  If you threw your chicken in the oven when you got home from work it would probably be done right after you tucked your kids into bed.  We can’t have them going to bed hungry!  🙂

Cooking it in the crock-pot is a fantastic alternative – and it’s ready to eat as soon as you walk in the door.  Pair it with an easy steamed veggie and a no-fuss side and you can surprise your family with elegance on a weeknight!

Survival Menu:

  • Crock-pot Roast Chicken
  • Steamed veggie
  • Easy side of your choice


  • Whole chicken
  • 2 whole carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Chicken Seasoning (or just salt/pepper tastes delicious, too)
  • veggie for steaming
  • easy side of your choice (some quick & easy weeknight options are instant mashed potatoes, boxed stuffing, or an easy frozen potato dish from the freezer section of the grocery store)

1.  Remove the innards of your chicken and set them aside for Steps 7 & 8 (Except the liver.  Throw that away.).  Pat your chicken dry, including the cavity.  Sprinkle the inside & outside with chicken seasoning or salt & pepper.  Note: since the skin will not crisp like it would if you were roasting it in the oven, don’t worry about adding oil to the skin. 

2.  Quarter the onion and peel the garlic.  Stuff them in the cavity of the chicken.  Place the whole carrots and celery in the bottom of the crock-pot.  Note: these will serve as aromatics as well as keep your chicken off the bottom of the crock-pot so the underside of your chicken won’t get mushy, which takes away from the presentation at dinnertime.

3.  Put your chicken in the crock-pot, breast side up.  Tuck the wings under as your would with a roast chicken.  Don’t add any liquid to the crock-pot, it’s totally unnecessary today!  I usually complete Steps 1 through 3 the night before and stick the removable stoneware in the fridge, leaving ZERO work for the next morning!

4.  In the morning, set the crock-pot on low for 8 hours.

5.  When you come home, steam an easy veggie and make whatever easy side you have chosen.

6.  Enjoy!

7.  After the meal package up your chicken carcass – along with all the veggies that were stuffed in the cavity, and the ones in the bottom of the crock-pot, AND the innards (MINUS the liver – ick) – and throw it in the freezer to make chicken broth another day.  I just use plastic grocery bags.  It doesn’t matter if the content gets freezer burned or isn’t packaged perfectly, the end result will still be delicious, free broth!  I usually get about 20 cups of broth per chicken carcass.  Note: I usually omit the skin to reduce the fat in the broth.  Also, don’t forget to leave the liver OUT of your broth.  Super important, which is why I’ve mentioned it three times in this post.

8.  Quick note on broth-making.  When the time comes that you want to do this, just throw the frozen carcass + veggies into a stock pot.  Fill to the top with water and put on a very low simmer (NOT a full boil) for 4 hours.  Skim the froth off the top as necessary, then strain through a strainer & cheesecloth when you’re done.  I don’t add any salt when I make my broth.  If recipes and soups need it later, I add it then.  Otherwise, my broth is pretty low-sodium but flavorful!

 Wondering what I’m doing here?  Learn more about the idea behind Surviving Dinner.


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