Being savvy means balancing work and life — and trying to make the most out of the 17 or so hours we're awake each day.
The folks over at Robert Rose Publishing must have known I dabble in a crock pot or two when they offered to send me a copy of The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes: Second Edition*. So I gave a few of the recipes a whirl**.
Naturally I chose recipes that required the least amount of prep work and ingredients I wouldn't already have at home. The "Tuscan Chicken with Sage" recipe spoke to me because other than dark meat chicken and sage, it didn't call for anything I didn't already have laying around my kitchen. In the book, this dish is described as follows: "This simple, yet delicious, chicken gets its distinctive slightly peppery flavor from the addition of fresh sage, which has a pleasantly pungent flavor. In many ways, it's an Italian variation of coq au vin. Serve with a basic risotto, a robust green vegetable, such as broccoli or sauteed rapini, and hot crusty bread to soak up the sauce."
(like those zexy counter tops? They will be one of the first things to go when we renovate our kitchen. Whew!)
So here's the recipe.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black peppercorns
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
2 cups dry robust red wine (such as Chianti)
3 lbs skinless bone-in chicken thighs (I only found skinless/boneless at my Kroger, so that's what I used)
1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, salt, peppercorns and sage and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine, bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until sauce is reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes.
2. Arrange chicken evenly over bottom of slow cooker (recommend using medium to large slow cooker — about 3.5 to 5 quart-size) and cover with sauce. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork. Serve immediately.
SERVES 6. (I served mine with jasmine rice).
I let the slow cooker go overnight for about 7.5 hours (if I let the food cook while I'm at work, it would be at least 9.5 hours before I could come home and turn it off. Why do these recipes have a suggested timeframe of 6 hours?) I found this dish to be simple yet flavorful, and I don't usually get dark chicken, so that was a nice change of pace. And the chicken was super tender/shredded. I really enjoyed the sage flavor. Next time I would probably add whole mushrooms into the pot.
The husband's comments: "Good texture. Like the sage. Hearty but not too soupy (like a roast can be). Light flavors but the sage still stands out." All-in-all, he said he would let me make this for him again.
My overall complaint with slow cookers is that 95% of recipes call for you to do 15-20 minutes of prep work (chopping veggies, browning the meat, etc.) before you can dump the ingredients in, turn that sucker on low and walk away. I want more recipes that require no chopping or browning of meat and 2-or-less minutes of prep work. (If I am going to be a lazy cook, I want to be a SUPER lazy cook).
But I do look forward to exploring more recipes in this book, including veggie lasagna, french onion soup, Chinese style braised pork and lamb korma with spinach (an Indian dish).
Do you have a go-to slow cooker recipe? Or do you forgo crock pots in favor of more manual cooking?
*I was provided this cookbook gratis.
**What have I become, blogging about slow cooker recipes? Either I've become more savvy with my time/resources, or I'm this much closer to being old and busted.