Slow-Cooked Lemon Garlic Chicken

3-4 pound chicken (labeled fryer or roaster)

for the seasoning:
3 garlic cloves–minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 sprigs of thyme–leaves stripped and minced

for the poaching liquid:
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)–reserve the rinds
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth

1 whole lemon–quartered
1 head of garlic–cloves separated, but left in their individual skins
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary

Remove the bag of gizzards and discard (or reserve for stock). Wash the chicken thoroughly inside and out with warm water. Pat dry with paper towels.

For the seasoning: Mix all the seasoning ingredients together in a bowl. Using your fingers, gently slide your fingers between the meat and the skin, entering at either end. Without tearing the skin, separate the skin from the meat of the breast, thighs, and legs of the chicken. Grab a handful of the seasoning and rub half of the mixture between the skin and meat. If you get a good dollop under the skin, you can lay the skin back down and use your fingers to massage the outside of the skin and work the seasoning across the surface of the meat. Rub the remaining mixture inside the cavity of the chicken.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Pan-sear the chicken on all sides for 6-8 minutes until the outside is browned. Transfer the chicken to your slow cooker–breast side up.

For the poaching liquid: Combine lemon juice, soy sauce, and chicken broth. Put the pan used to sear the chicken back on medium-high heat, pour in half of the poaching liquid and let sit until just boiling. Use a spatula to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the pan. Once the pan is deglazed, pour mixture over the chicken in the slow-cooker.

Put lemon rinds (reserved from squeezing the juice), one whole bouillon cube, and a few of the garlic cloves inside the cavity of the chicken. Arrange lemon quarters, the remaining garlic cloves, and the sprigs of thyme around the chicken toward the edges of the cooker. Crumble the other bouillon cube over the chicken and rub it into the skin.

Place the lid on the cooker and cook on HIGH for 4 hours. (Note: This recipe is best when done on HIGH, but can also be done in 6-8 hours on LOW.)

Twenty to thirty minutes before the time is done, pour reserved lemon juice mixture over chicken and add the rosemary sprigs. (Rosemary tends to get bitter and antiseptic tasting if cooked the entire time in the slow-cooker.)

Remove chicken from the slow-cooker and allow it to rest on the carving board (or handy cookie sheet) for about 20 minutes. The meat actually continues cooking during this resting period and the juices will redistribute through the meat. When ready to serve, tear off the skin and discard. Use your fingers to pull off the legs–the bones should come apart with a gentle tug, but if they don’t, use a carving knife to wedge them apart. Keep using your fingers to work over the chicken, placing the meat on a serving platter and reserving the bones for another use (like home-made chicken broth!). Serve immediately!