Friday, June 22, 2012

Fermented Friday: Slow Cooker Beer Chicken

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation

I planned to share this with you last Friday, but then this happened instead!  Now that the excitement has died down I'll tell you about beer chicken.

This recipe is super easy, almost too easy.  The hardest part is waiting while the aroma floats through the air.  Personally, I enjoy the hands-on aspect of most recipes such as chopping, mixing, stirring, and especially kneading.  I tend to get restless if I'm not doing something.  In order to avoid the temptation to stir, adjust, fiddle with or peek in the slow cooker, I left this to cook overnight.  You could also toss everything in before work (in under 5 minutes) and have it ready and waiting when you get home.

All you have to do is place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker and add beer and seasonings.  Wait, you also need to plug in the slow cooker and turn it on.  But you can handle that, right?  The chicken is slowly cooked to perfection and effortlessly falls apart when it's time for the shredding.  I really couldn't believe how easy the shredding step was, you could almost do it just by thinking about it.  I didn't actually time it, but it took less than 2 minutes.  

Don't you just love the slow cookers with removable stoneware? So much easier to clean!

As if that's not enough, you shred it right in the slow cooker.  No cutting board, mess or extra dishes. Like I said, too easy.   The chicken soaks up flavors from the beer and seasonings leaving you with moist, tender, juicy shreds to use as you please.  There are so many things you can do with this chicken. The flavors are spot on as is, but if you want to play around a bit here are a few ideas to get you started:

- leave it as is and heap onto buns for sandwiches
- add BBQ sauce for BBQ chicken sandwiches
- use in tacos 
- Buffalo sandwich: add some hot sauce and top with blue cheese (I even saw blue cheese slices the other day)
- sprinkle in a quesadilla  (have you tried the chicken, apple, cheddar combo?)
- pile onto nachos
- make enchiladas 
- use as a pizza topping, I want to try it on this pizza

In real life this batch was left plain and gone before I could decide what to try first.  I'll be making some more this week and I might even try it with wine just to see what happens.  Somehow or other a boring pilsner made it's way home in a 6-pack mix, so that's what I used here.  An IPA got mixed in too, but that won't be quite as easy to get rid of (it's too bitter for most cooking/baking uses).  In this recipe the beer enhanced the other flavors, but didn't provide any obvious beer notes.  If you're not into beer you'll still like this.  If you're really into beer, try using something stronger and let me know how it  turns out.  While I'd love to test this recipe side-by-side with different beers, I have too many other recipes to experiment with right now. In general, lighter beers pair well with lighter foods like fish or chicken and heavier, darker beers pair well with heavier foods. Use your best discretion and be sure to report back with your findings. Enjoy your weekend. 

Slow Cooker Beer Chicken
inspired by How Sweet It Is

1-1/2 lbs (24oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed if frozen
3/4 cup beer (I would use 1 cup next time)
1 tsp smoked paprika (this is not the same a regular paprika)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

* Place chicken breasts in a 4-quart slow cooker.
* Combine beer, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Pour over chicken breasts.
* Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. 
* Shred chicken using two forks. Toss lightly to distributes juices.  

Food for Thought: "Stay true in the dark and humble in the spotlight." -Harold B. Lee


  1. I just put this in the crock-pot. I can't follow a recipe to save my life, so I added a whole bottle of pilsner, 2 tablespoons Italian dressing, and some Mrs. Dash Onion and Herb seasoning. Tonight I'll serve it on seasame bread with sauteed spinach. I'll let you know how it turns out.

    1. Sounds good! You've got enough experience you don't need recipes. Where would the excitement be if we both tried the exact same thing? Let me know if there's a lot of extra liquid left with the whole bottle. Hopefully the beer flavor will come through more too.

  2. When slow cooking I always get nervous that the food will dry out so I tend to use quite a bit of liquid. There was definitely liquid leftover with using a whole bottle of beer, I think you're right that 1 cup would probably be just about right. The beer flavor did come through really well, though.

    1. I might have to try it with the whole bottle for the beer flavor. Cooking it with the lid off for the last bit would help some of the liquid boil off and concentrate that beer flavor. Also,I think it absorbs some of the liquid if you let it sit a while before serving and toss several times. Thanks for letting me know how it went!