Thursday, November 18, 2010
Take Your Time
I have to admit, my slow cooker is kind of a seasonal thing. I usually pull it out once the weather gets cooler and mostly on school nights. Kate plays tennis after school every day, and I don't get home with her until about 6:45 p.m. Ted usually gets in around 7:00 or 7:15. It's nice to have dinner ready to serve without pulling out every pot in the kitchen. I feel a little like Suzy Homemaker when I use it, but I can live with that if it means I don't have to scour a frying pan at 8:30 at night.
Being the somewhat over enthusiastic person that I am, of course I went out and bought a bunch of slow cooker cookbooks when I originally started slow cooking. Soon afterward, I realized that I could use any braised recipe and adapt it to the slow cooker. Anything that benefits from a long, slow braise is well suited to the slow cooker so don't feel like you have to rush out to Borders.
Having said all that, my favorite slow cooker cookbook is called The Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley. The recipes are incredibly easy and just delicious. The recipe for Provencal Chicken Stew below is a favorite in my house.
If you don't have a slow cooker, I think this would probably work just as well if you cook it covered on the stove over a simmer until the meat is tender.
Provencal Chicken Stew
(The Gourmet Slow Cooker, 2003)
Note: I usually throw a couple of extra half breasts into this recipe because my family likes breast meat.
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 chicken, cut into serving pieces, skinned
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade, for garnish
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, for garnish
Combine the 3/4 cup flour and the salt in a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken, coat with the flour, and shake off any excess.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the chicken pieces and cook, turning once, for 8-10 minutes, until browned on both sides. Using tongs, transfer to paper towels to drain, then arrange in the bottom of a slow cooker.
Set the same saute pan over medium high heat and add the onion and the 2 tablespoons of flour. Sate, stirring frequently, for 8 - 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the garlic and stir for 1 -2 minutes. Add the wine and stir to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes, until some of the tomato liquid evaporates.
Pour the onion mixture over the chicken in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 3 -8 hours, until the chicken is tender. At 3 to 4 hours, the chicken will still be firm and hold its shape. At 6 to 8 hours, the meat will be falling off the bone.
Divide the chicken among dinner plates and garnish with the parsley, basil, and olives.
I usually serve this with egg noodles.