You can thaw, steam and brown a whole frozen chicken in a crock pot. Crock pots are designed to make one-dish meals that reduce cleanup and time in the kitchen. Modern digital slow cookers are often programmable to multiple time and temperature settings. Meals can go directly from the freezer to the crock pot in the morning and be ready to eat when you get home from work.
Preheat the crock pot to the high heat setting, or 300 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rinse all the inner and outer surfaces of a whole frozen chicken under cold running water. Lower the chicken into the preheated crock pot.
Add one cup of chopped mixed vegetables such as carrots, onions and mushrooms for every pound of chicken. Three and a half cups of vegetables is plenty for a three and a half pound chicken.
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Add one to two cups of water, beer or wine to raise the moisture level and conduct heat to the chicken faster. Use less liquid if the vegetables you are using are moist; use more if they are dry, fibrous root vegetables. Too much moisture will boil the chicken and result in a mushy bird.
Generously season the top of the chicken and vegetables with salt, pepper and your favorite herbs and spices.
Reduce the crock pot's heat to low, or approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and cover with the lid when the liquids begin to bubble. This may take as long as an hour if you have a smaller crock pot or a large frozen chicken.
Lift the lid after six to eight hours of simmering and remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon.
Turn the heat back up to high, add the butter or oil and allow the chicken to cook for another 30 minutes to an hour with the lid off. The high heat will concentrate the residual liquids and crisp the chicken skin.
Serve the chicken right out of the pot or remove it to a cutting board for carving. Use the slotted spoon to support the weight of the cooked chicken from underneath as you lift and transport it to the board.
You can set a programmable crock pot to automatically shift to lower temperatures after the initial hour of high heat. Seal lids that constantly leak steam by covering the rim of the crock with a piece of plastic wrap before lowering the lid.
Jeffrey Brian Airman is a writer, musician and food blogger. A 15-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Airman has used his experience to cover food, restaurants, cooking and do-it-yourself projects. Airman also studied nursing at San Diego State University.