Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chicken twofer

My friends, I have an important announcement to make: I think I've finally found a slow cooker chicken recipe that I'll make more than once. After years of trying, and numerous mediocre chicken recipes, none of which have been deemed worthy of inclusion (or even a mention) here, I think I've got a keeper.

I got the idea for this out of an Australian Women's Weekly seasonal cookbook that I picked up in a secondhand bookstore a few weeks ago and have been carrying around with me obsessively ever since. Or, to be more accurate, I got the main ingredient combo from there, and then the rest of it just evolved.

Slow cooker chicken with leeks and bacon
Since I didn't actually follow a recipe, I've just documented the procedure that I used. Note that most slow cooker chicken recipes don't recommend cooking the chicken for more than about 4 hours, or else it starts to dry out. I cooked this for 4 hours on low, and the texture was excellent.
  1. Turn on the slow cooker to start heating. (I usually turn mine on high to get going and then turn to low after about 30-45 minutes.) Put a medium-sized cast-iron skillet to heat on the stove over low-medium heat, and add 2 Tbsp olive oil to warm up. Add 1 anchovy to oil.
  2. Chop up 4 pieces of good-quality bacon and add to skillet. Wash, remove the green top of, and slice 1 leek and add to bacon.
  3. Cook mixture in skillet, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes, until bacon begins to crisp and leek to soften and brown.
  4. While mixture in skillet is cooking, sprinkle about 1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) flour into a shallow bowl, and season with salt and cayenne pepper. Dredge 4-6 chicken thighs in seasoned flour, turning to coat with flour on all sides.
  5. Dump contents of skillet in slow cooker, leaving some bacon fat behind. Stuff leek top along with 2 sprigs rosemary into a cheesecloth bag, popsock, or similar, and add to slow cooker also.
  6. Put skillet back on burner and add chicken thighs to brown. Cook 3-5 minutes, until beginning to brown, then turn and repeat on the other side. (You may want to use a splatter screen here.)
  7. When chicken is browned on both sides, remove from skillet and lay in the slow cooker. 
  8. Return skillet to burner and sprinkle in about 2 Tbsp of the seasoned dredging flour. Stir into the fat in the pan until you have a basic roux
  9. Pour about 1 cup white wine into the skillet. Heat the wine, stirring constantly with a whisk, and use it to deglaze the skillet.
  10. Empty the skillet into the slow cooker and decide if you need any additional liquid. (Chicken should be at least halfway submerged in the liquid.) If so, pour hot water from the kettle into the skillet and scrape up any remaining bits. Pour into the slow cooker.
  11. Give the contents of the slow cooker a good stir, cover, and leave alone for 3-4 hours.
  12. Before serving, taste sauce and adjust seasonings. (I added a bit of salt and pepper, and a scoop of Greek yoghurt to balance out the flavors in the sauce.)
  13. I served this with Italian baked potatoes with oil and a green vegetable.
And the twofer part? You can see that in the photo above. The next night, I warmed up the leftovers (one chicken thigh, chopped up, and a couple cups of chunky sauce) and served them mixed into gnocchi and sauteed kale for a speedy dinner that was just as good as the original. Next time I make this (and there will be a next time), I'll make sure there's enough to do this part again too.


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