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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Provence in a Slow Cooker

It is just too cold and there's been too much snow.  That's it.  I just need a little sunshine and it's not looking good for that for at least a couple of months.  I'm from California and all this winter is just too much for me.  There, I've said it.

Kate has a very different attitude about all this bad weather.  While I don't think she loves all this cold, she is on permanent alert from December through March, waiting to hear if she has either a two hour delay at school or, even better, a school cancellation.  As I am sure you can imagine, having the day off from school makes the cold much more bearable.

I've been thinking about getting one of those happy lights.  You know, the really bright lights that simulate daylight.  The only problem with the happy light is that I would have to sit in front of it all day, everyday.  I'd never get anything done.  It's probably not my best bet in terms of productivity but at least I'd be in a more chipper mood.

But there is another solution to my problem.  Provencal food.  Wait, you say.  You live in Pittsburgh and that's a long way, both literally and figuratively, from Provence.  True.  But there are ways to bring a little Provence to the 'Burgh.    The characteristic flavors of Provence are tomatoes, basil, olives, garlic, and olive oil, and all of those things can easily be found in Pittsburgh, and, more specifically, in my pantry.  But, since it's so cold, I think I have to make it stick to the ribs (but hopefully not my backside).

Time to pull out the slow cooker.  Some nice provencal ingredients, and I'm starting to feel a lot better.  I may not have sun but at least I have sunshiney food.  Works for me.

Recipe:  Provencal Chicken Stew
(Adapted from The Gourmet Slow Cooker)


3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 chicken cut into serving pieces, skinned
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted

In a shallow dish, mix 3/4 cup flour and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt together.  Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture.

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil.  Add the chicken and cook, turning once, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is browned well on both sides.  Using tongs, transfer the chicken to the slow cooker.

Set the saute pan over medium high heat and add the onion and saute until soft.  Add the 2 tablespoons of flour and saute until the flour is slightly browned.  Add the garlic and stir for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of thr pan.  Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes and add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring frequestly for 5 to 10 minutes until some of the tomato liquid evaporates.

Pour the onion mixture over the chicken in the slow cooker.  Cover and cool on low for 6 hours.  The chicken will be starting to fall off the bone.

Divide the chicken and the sauce among dinner plates and garnish with the parsley, basil, and olives.

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