Friday, April 12, 2013

Chicken Cacciatore (Slow Cooker)

One of my new year's resolutions, and possibly the only one I'm sticking to as I can't remember what any of the rest were at the moment, was to cook more from my cookbooks. I love trying recipes from blogs and other online sources so much that I neglect my more than decent cookbook collection far too much. One of the largest categories of cookbooks in my collection are dedicated to slow cooking. Today's recipe comes from The Italian Slow Cooker, which was an impulse by at an adorable little bookstore called Salt & Pepper located in historic Occoquan, Virginia. If you're in the DC/Northern Virginia area, I highly recommend a visit to this quaint little store. There aren't many independent bookstores out there anymore in general, let alone one dedicated to food, so it's nice to support the ones that are left.

Something interesting that this book recommends is to brown all the meat first, including the chicken. I regularly do that with beef in my slow cooker dishes, but for some reason never thought of doing that with chicken. It makes a difference! Often chicken is difficult in the slow cooker because it falls apart. Browning it first not only brings out extra flavor, but also makes the skin sturdier as to not melt away during cooking. One downside with chicken that is present in this dish is a much shorter cooking time than beef. However, it's perfect for a weekend meal that you don't have to get going until noon, then can leave cooking on the counter while you run a few errands and come home to a yummy smelling house. This dish was quite tasty too!

Chicken Cacciatore (Slow Cooker)  photo ChickenCacciatore3.jpg

4 lbs chicken (I used thighs)
salt, pepper, olive oil
2 large red bell peppers, cut into strips
12 ounces button mushrooms, halved
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBS all purpose flour
1 TBS good tomato paste (use 2-3 if using cheap stuff)
3/4 c dry red wine

Dry chicken pieces gently with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Coat large skillet with oil, about 2 TBS, and heat over medium heat. Add chicken, skin-side down, and cook until nicely browned. Flip and brown other side. Transfer chicken to slow cooker.

Pour all but 2 TBS of fat from skillet and increase heat to medium high. Saute peppers and mushrooms until they begin to soften. Add onions, thyme, and garlic and cook for 3 more minutes.

Sprinkle flour over veggies. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste and wine and bring to a simmer. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get the yummy brown bits of flavor. Pour over chicken.

Cook on low for 5 hours or on high for 2.5 hours.

Serves 4

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