Whole, roasted chickens are an easy and beloved meal once you get over the trauma of wrangling a raw chicken. Confession: I had an extremely hard time handling raw meat until I was in my mid-twenties. My experience was limited to boneless, skinless chicken breasts and ground beef. Prepping a whole chicken was a big hurdle for me, but once I did it, I felt much more comfortable with raw meat in general. And I was shocked about how easy it was! You’ll love this classic lemon-herb chicken. You can always throw one in the slow cooker to shred and use later or even freeze.
Prep time 15 minutes, plus marinating time
1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds (1.4 to 1.8 kg)
1 tablespoon (18 g) sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 whole bulb of garlic plus 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons (29 ml) avocado oil
1 Remove the neck and any organs from the cavity of the chicken. (Put them in a freezer zip-top bag and add the rest of the bones later for making stock.) Loosen the skin of the chicken by slipping your fingers under the skin and—without ripping the skin—separate it from the flesh. Start on the breast side and do this with the thigh and leg, too. I like to cut a small hole with a pair of kitchen shears or a knife on the side of the chicken between the thigh and leg, and stick a finger under the skin to loosen it. Place the chicken on a large plate or small pan.
2 In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, 2 minced garlic cloves, and zest from the lemon. Stir the avocado oil into the salt-herb mixture. Take this mixture and get as much of it as you can underneath the skin—on the breast, thighs, and legs. It helps to maneuver the seasoning from the outside of the skin, massaging it with your fingers. Rub the remaining seasoning over the outside of the chicken.
3 Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and chill for 4 to 12 hours.
4 When you’re ready to cook the chicken, make 4 balls out of aluminum foil, about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) each. Arrange them in the bottom of a 6-quart (5.7 liter) slow cooker, forming a square.
5 Place the chicken, breast-side down, in the prepared slow cooker.
6 Take the garlic bulb and cut about an inch from the top, exposing the cloves. Cut the lemon in half. Put the bulb into the cavity of the chicken. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the chicken and put the lemon halves into the cavity with the garlic bulb. Pour 1/4 cup water (60 ml) into the bottom of the cooker.
7 Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. Internal temperature should be about 160°F (71°C).
8 Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and serve. (You probably won’t be able to get it all out in one piece.)