So at the end of that night, I got to take home two organic, free-range chickens that cost me nothing but a few hours of labor. Well, that, and the feeling that I still smelled like chickens after two days and three showers. As one who doesn't even like to handle raw meat from the store, that was certainly an experience! Perhaps I should write a whole post on that. But lest I ruin your appetite . . .
Since I worked hard for these chickens, I felt like I needed some really epic recipes to cook them. And since they were older chickens, one of the chicken experts in the group warned us that the meat would be tough--so she recommended soup or crock pot cooking methods.
Around the same time I decided to try my hand at cooking with lavender, which I'd eaten twice but had never been brave enough to cook with myself. And then this recipe happened. It used lavender, it featured a whole chicken, and it was easily adaptable to the crock pot. Sold.
I decided to skin my chicken for two reasons: 1) the skin brings a lot of fat to the party, and I wanted a leaner dish; and 2) whoever plucked that chicken (quite possibly me) didn't do the best job, so there were still some feather remnants. However, though I basted this little lady every 30 minutes, she still came out really tough. So if you make this, I'd recommend using more liquid, cooking on low instead of high, leaving the skin on, or a combination thereof.
But the flavor was excellent! The lavender definitely came out, but the dish didn't taste flowery or perfumey, as can happen if you use too much lavender. I don't think I'd change a thing about the marinade ingredients or amounts. For the past couple days I've been using this chicken in some peach quesadillas, and I plan to use the bones to make home-made chicken stock (a first for me).
Lavender and Honey Crock Pot Chicken
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried lavender flowers
1-2 sprigs fresh marjoram, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 red onion, finely chopped (2-3 Tbsp.)
1 whole chicken
Salt and pepper
2 lemons (oranges would probably also be good)
Additional sprig or two of marjoram or other herb(s) of choice
Combine first eight ingredients (honey through red onion) in a 1- or 2-cup measuring cup. Cut one of the lemons into wedges and slice the other one.
Skin the chicken, if desired, and remove any giblets or anything else that came packaged inside the chicken. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Place the lemon wedges inside the body cavity and place chicken in a greased crock pot.
Pour honey-lavender mixture over the chicken, place additional herb sprig(s) on top of chicken, and spread lemon slices on top of that. Cover and cook 4-8 hours* or until chicken is tender and juices run clear. Since I skinned my chicken and since I was home all day, I basted my chicken every 30 minutes or so to try to keep her nice and juicy.
* Crock-pot.com suggests that, for a 6-lb. whole bone-in chicken, you cook on low for 7-1/2 hours or on high for 6-1/4. Obviously, individual crock pots vary, so adjust your cook time accordingly based on your crock pot and the size of your chicken.