I was talking with some friends at a party yesterday about using the slower cooker (a.k.a. crock pot) in the summer. We all agreed that slow cookers can be our best friends all year round.
We tend to think of slow cookers as winter cooking tools. They are great for stews and soups, but they are also great for cooking in the hot weather because they won’t heat up your kitchen the way a stove will. Not only will your kitchen stay cooler, if you have central air, the central air won’t go into overdrive trying to compensate for the warmer house.
But what can you cook in the slow cooker that’s great for a summer meal? Last week I bought a whole chicken from the grocery store that was deeply discounted because the sell-by date was that day. The majority of the meat I feed my family is local, humanely raised meat or organic, but sometimes I do buy the deeply discounted meat that would otherwise end up in the trash if someone didn’t buy it.
My dressing for chicken salad is very simple, and you can use any dressing that you like. The trick here is cooking the chicken in the slow cooker to make it moist and easy to pull apart so you can create a large amount of chicken salad that can be pulled out the refrigerator for a few days to create quick, cool meals.
Slow Cooker Chicken Salad
- One whole uncooked chicken, rinsed
- 1 tbsp chicken bouillon
- Minced garlic (jarred works well)
- One onion, chopped
- Salt & pepper
- Fill a 6-quart slow cooker with about an inch and a half of water. Add chicken bouillon (alternately, you could use chicken broth instead of water and bouillon)
- Rub the chicken with the garlic, chopped onions, salt & pepper — try to get some under the skin and inside the cavity.
- Place the chicken in the slower cooker, add any extra onion or garlic to the pot. Close the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until the juices of the chicken are no longer pink.
- Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and pull off all meat, light and dark, as soon as the chicken is cool enough to handle. Shred the chicken between two forks (the warmer the chicken is, the easier it will be to shred.
- Add the mayonnaise to the chicken, just enough to coat all the chicken. Add some finely diced onion and celery. Then salt and pepper it to taste.
- Serve on toast, rolls, tortillas with tomato or lettuce, stuffed inside a hallowed-out tomato or pepper, rolled inside lettuce leaves, or simply by itself.