Using a slow cooker for chicken ensures that the chicken is tender. We make a simple lemony gravy for the chicken. This happens in the same skillet the chicken is browned in before being added to the slow cooker and saved for when the chicken is done cooking. At the end of cooking, there will be just over 2 cups of chicken broth in the bottom of the slow cooker — some of this is rendered fat, which we prefer to remove. After skimming most of the fat from the broth, you are left with a flavorful chicken broth. For serving, combine this broth with the lemon gravy. It’s delicious.
Add as many chicken pieces (thighs or breast) that will fit in one layer at the bottom of your slow cooker. They can be quite snug — as they cook, they reduce in size.
6 to 8 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in, trimmed of excess fat, about 2 pounds
1 tablespoon Dijon grain mustard
1 tablespoon lemon zest (1 teaspoon for rub and 2 teaspoons for sauce)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, see our chicken stock recipe
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Make rub for chicken. Combine mustard, 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest, oregano, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a small bowl. Use fingers or a brush to coat chicken on both sides with the mustard rub.
In another bowl or measuring jug, combine remaining lemon zest (2 teaspoons), lemon juice and the chicken stock. Set aside.
Note: Both the chicken and lemon-chicken stock mixture can be prepared up to one day in advance. Cover both and keep in the refrigerator.
Heat remaining teaspoon of oil in a large oven-safe skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until the skin has turned golden brown and some fat has rendered.
Transfer the browned chicken to a slow cooker and arrange in one layer with the skin facing up. Cover with lid then cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours or until the chicken is cooked through. Save the skillet with drippings for making the sauce.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet used to brown the chicken. If there is not enough fat, add butter so that 2 tablespoons of fat are in the pan. Place over medium heat until hot then whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk until the flour and fat turn into a smooth paste and look medium blonde in color; about 1 minute.
Pour in the lemon juice-stock mixture and whisk until smooth. Bring the sauce to a low simmer. As it simmers, it thickens and becomes glossy. Transfer to a jar or measuring jug and refrigerate for when the chicken is cooked.
When the chicken is done, it will be sitting in an inch or so of cooking liquid and rendered fat. Transfer the chicken to a plate then skim as much fat from the liquid as possible. There should be almost 2 cups of liquid left in the slow cooker.
Warm the lemon gravy made earlier then add the lemon gravy and stir until blended. Place the chicken thighs back into the slow cooker for serving or serve with the gravy drizzled on top.