Sunday, September 5, 2010

Roasted Chicken... Without the Roaster

Crock Pot "Roasted" Chicken

I roasted a whole chicken once. It was a lot of work, a lot of sweat, and a lot of waiting around wondering how it would turn out. In the end? Meh. It was just OK. I felt like all my efforts resulted in a bland, slightly slimy dinner.
This time, I decided to turn to my trusty kitchen friend, the Crock Pot. She's rarely let me down and when I found a simple recipe for roasted chicken, slow cooker style, I knew I had to give it a go.

This chicken is full of flavor, a fix it and forget it contender, and still just as messy!
We served this chicken with roasted brussel sprouts and Kalamata pasta salad the first night and used the remaining meat in other dishes. I hope you can find an opportunity to put it to the test and enjoy hassle-free meals all week long.

Slow Roasted Crock Pot Chicken
The Ingredients:
-1 whole chicken (I used about a 4 pounder)
-3 Tbsp. Butter
-1 tsp. Paprika
-1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
-1/2 tsp. Oregano
-3-4 Garlic cloves, minced
-1 whole red bell pepper, quartered
-1 small yellow onion, quartered

The Process:
-Wash chicken, cleaning out cavity, and pat dry.
-Combine spices and room temperature butter in a small dish. Add half the fresh garlic and mix ingredients until combined.
-Take small amounts of butter mixture in your hand and rub under chicken skin on breast and thigh meat. Rub remaining mixture over chicken skin.
-Stuff chicken cavity with bell peppers, 1/2 the onion and remaining garlic.
-Place remaining onion in bottom of slow cooker and place chicken breast side down on top on onion.
-Cover Crock Pot and set on low. Cook for 6-8 hours until chicken is done (About 175 degrees, no longer pink, juices run clear).
-Pull meat from bones and enjoy!

Frozen Pizza No More

I will admit to being a bit of a pizzaholic. I honestly could eat pizza once a week, if not more often. However, when it comes to making pizza at home, I have been a big baby. I don't know why but pizza dough totally intimidated me. Until now!

A few weeks ago, I finally broke down and purchased my new favorite kitchen accessory: The KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Isn't she beautiful?

I guess now would be the time to confess that I had previously vowed that I did not need such a ginormous gadget in MY kitchen... until I literally broke my hand/stand mixer last Christmas whilst making cookies. But that's a whole other post!

Back to the pizza....

The stand mixer makes this dough recipe fairly easy to follow, especially if you use all bread flour instead of mixing in the whole wheat. I am still working on getting the hang of forming a round, truly round, pizza pie. Guess that just means I need to practice more often!


Traditional Pizza Dough- Adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

The Ingredients:
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-½ teaspoon dried oregano (I also added dried Basil and a pinch of Rosemary)
-4 cups bread flour (I used 2 1/2 c. All-Purpose flour and 1 1/2 c. Whole Wheat flour)
-1¾ teaspoons salt
-1 teaspoon sugar
-2 teaspoons instant yeast
-¼ cups white wine (I used 1/2 c. wine and 1/4 less c. water)
-1½ cups water

The Process:
-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.

-Heat the oil and oregano in a small saucepan over medium low heat until warm and fragrant. Mix in the water and white wine and simmer until mixture begins to bubble slightly.

***Note: Make sure you read the instructions for your mixer speed requirements for pizza/bread dough before proceeding***

-With the mixer on low speed, pour in the liquid mixture. Continue mixing on medium-low speed until the dough comes together, and then knead on medium-low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 8-10 minutes).
Add more flour or water as necessary to form a dough that is sticky but does not cling to the sides of the bowl. When the mixer is running on medium-low speed, the dough should not stick to the bottom of the bowl. (I had to add about 3 Tbsp. more flour, which may have been from the increased amount of wine I used).

-Spray a large bowl with non-stick spray. Coat your hands with oil, then quickly form the dough into a ball. Place the ball of dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Either set the dough aside to rise at room temperature, which will take 1½ to 2 hours, or refrigerate it until the next day. If it’s chilled overnight, it will take about 5 hours at room temperature to warm and finish rising.

-Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

-Divide the dough and shape each portion into a ball. The original recipe states it makes enough dough for three 12-inch pizzas. Apparently the Mr. and I are pigs because we only divided it in half. Let the dough relax while oven preheats.

-Work with one ball of dough at a time on a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough, then pick it up and gently stretch it out, trying to keep it as circular as possible. Curl your fingers and let the dough hang on your knuckles, moving and rotating the dough so it stretches evenly. If it tears, just piece it together. If the dough stretches too much, put it down and gently tug on the thick spots.

-Dust a pizza peel lightly with cornmeal and transfer the round of dough to the peel (We don't have a peel or pizza stone, so I used a regular cookie sheet). Stab it several times with a fork.

-Add the sauce and toppings of your choice, then bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is spotty brown.