Slow Cooking #1

In my attempts to save energy in the kitchen for the B&Q Great Energy Race, I have resolved to use my slow cooker more (I wimped out of making my own Wonderbox, and ordered a Wonderbag, and am waiting for it to arrive-in the meantime, slow cooker it is).
Hubby bought a chicken at the weekend, which I didn’t get round to roasting, so decided to see if I could ‘roast’ it in the slow cooker instead. And if this would indeed save any energy. And taste as nice.
According to the good and incredibly helpful people of the Twitter-sphere, the answer to the “Can you ‘roast’ a chicken in the slow cooker” question, was a resounding “Yes!” And controversially, the advice was to not add any liquid to the slow cooker, as it should make it’s own.

So off I went.
I was aiming for something like the delicious one-pot chicken I made a few weeks ago, (and neglected to take a picture of…)

This is what you need:

  • 1 largish free-range chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • a knob of butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 white onions-peeled and sliced in ‘rustic’ slices
  • some carrots-scrubbed and chopped
  • some potatoes-scrubbed and chopped
  • cabbage-finely sliced/shredded

This is what you do:

  • Get your slow cooker out, and set it to High (depending on how much time you have)
  • Chuck your onion slices in the bottom
  • Unpackage your chicken, and de-giblet it if necessary
  • Rub the butter all over the top of the chicken, then halve the lemon and kind of squeeze and rub it on the chicken, before putting the 2 halves inside. Smash the garlic cloves and do the same with them
  • Place the chicken breast side down, in the slow cooker, whack on the lid, and walk away (total cooking time 6hrs on High)
  • After about 2 hours, add the carrots and potatoes (I had to lift the chicken out, chuck the veg underneath and plonk it back down again on top, all the time panicking I was letting too much heat escape…
  • Depending on how al dente you like your cabbage-add it about 30-60mins before the end of the cooking time (I merrily sprinkled this on top)
  • Lift out carefully (ours fell apart completely and splattered everything-someone mentioned something about a foil sling, which I might try and do next time!)
  • I then poured off most of the liquid into a saucepan, chucked in a stock cube and simmered for a few minutes whilst ‘plating up’

Energy usage:

  • Slow Cooker: I risked live and limb to lift the thing up whilst it was in use (too impatient to wait, obviously..) to look at the sticker underneath. This told me the energy image was 266-290W. Which my awesome maths skills, tells me is 0.29kW. For six hours, this comes to……1.74kWhrs
  • Electric Oven-I had to Google this one, but found this great chart on the Centre for Sustainable Energy website, which told me that my oven probably uses about 2000W, or 2kW. It took 2 hours to cook the chicken, so this works out at….. 4Kwhrs

Taste Test:

  • Slow Cooker-yummilicious. Very lemony. Very moist. Yum.
  • Electric Oven-this was delicious, and super super easy. Also Yum.

Verdict:
There was very little to choose between the two recipes taste wise, and ease wise, but the slow cooker wins hands down on energy usage.
If I put my science super-geek hat on for a minute, I actually found this really interesting, that the slow cooker, even though it is on for longer, used less electricity. And every little helps when there’s a race to win (and a planet to save..) :)

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13 thoughts on “Slow Cooking #1

  1. No no no, you’ve got it all wrong! What you need is a PRESSURE cooker! Just like a slow cooker -
    same thrifty cuts of meat etc- but works in a fraction of the time.
    I’m totally evangelical about ours.

  2. In our house, all the bones,skin and bits (incl the giblets) after picking the carcase get saved to be pressure cooked for half an hour. A splash of vinegar, cover with water, result is calcium rich stock for soups and bones soft enough for pets to eat. Ours used to queue up! If short of time, freeze the remnants and cook two together later.

  3. I use a slow cooker for meals for my husband who is a meat-eater. I don’t want to fiddle with uncooked meat and roasting is definitely out. I plonk meat and root vegetables in at the same time adding some beer (added treat) and stock (I have never tried chicken) and leave on low for 6 to 8 hours. The beauty for me is that I can buy the cheapest bits of red meat (saving loads of money) and cook everything in its own juices so no faffing and no loss of vitamins.

    Re Hattie’s comment above I would love to find out more about pressure cooking and cooking veggy meals – so if you are doing a test ……..?

  4. I often make casseroles (using cheap cuts of beef of lamb) in mine and tried cooking Gammon a few months ago. I will NEVER cook Gammon any other way again, it was gorgeous! Apparently you can do pulled pork in your slow cooker as well, am gonna have to try that one day. :o)

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  6. Thanks for some great ideas with your slow cooker. I love mine and use it regularly but I’m always looking for new things to put into it. On Sunday I did your one pot chicken as above and it was lovely. I then made the stock using the carcass and that’s now in the fridge waiting to be turned into something, most likely soup.
    Today I’m experimenting with jacket potatoes in the slow cooker after reading about it here. I’ll let you know how they turn out. :-)

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