Slow cookers, also called crockpots, cook foods with low, moist heat, generally in the temperature range of 170 F to 280 F. The low heat helps lean cuts of meat like chicken become tender, shrink less and absorb flavors added by vegetables, a sauce or a marinade. Just remember to account for a longer cooking time; generally, five to six hours is needed to completely cook the meat.
The National Chicken Council and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association worked with noted cookbook authors to develop two recipes that feature chicken prepared in a slow cooker.
These recipes are adapted from The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World, by Lynn Alley, and Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann, respectively.
Chicken in Prunes and Wine is a French-inspired, rich tasting chicken dish. In this recipe, chicken thighs are pre-cooked to brown stove-top, then transferred to a slow cooker with a sauce made of sautÃ©ed onions and wine. Add bay leaves and thyme for seasoning, then a batch of pitted prunes.
After simmering for about five hours over low heat in the slow cooker, the chicken thighs, onions, sauce and prunes combine into a delicious stew.
Serve over noodles or rice, or with a few roasted potatoes, and green beans or broccoli for a complete meal.
If you prefer to cook with Asian flavors, try Orange Hoisin Chicken, another simple recipe that starts with frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast halves.
Prepare a marinade of orange juice concentrate, honey, soy sauce, garlic, sliced ginger, sesame oil and hoisin sauce; seal in a zippered bag and coat the chicken breasts.
Put the chicken in the slow cooker, top with any remaining marinade, and cook over low heat for about five hours, letting the Asian flavors soak into the chicken. When the chicken is cooked, boil the sauce and serve with the finished dish. Serve with brown or white rice and a green vegetable.
Orange Hoisin Chicken
Adapted from, Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Henspergerand Julie Kaufmann, Harvard Common Press, 2005
6 frozen chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless (do not thaw)
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 slices ginger, about 1/4 inch thick each
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water
2 tablespoons sliced scallions, for garnish
In large zippered-top plastic bag, combine orange juice concentrate, honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. Put chicken pieces in the bag one at a time, seal, and gently turn to coat with sauce.
Transfer coated chicken to ceramic insert of a slow cooker. Pour remaining sauce from bag over chicken. Cover and cook on low until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 5 hours.
Transfer chicken to platter. Strain sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan. In a cup or small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and cold water.
Bring sauce to a boil over high heat, add cornstarch mixture, and cook, stirring with whisk, until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken. Garnish with scallions. Serves 6.
Nutritional Analysis, Per Serving:
240 calories; 6 g fat; 1.5 g saturated fat; 17 g carbohydrate; 29 g protein; 160 mg sodium
Chicken in Prunes and Wine~
Adapted from The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World by Lynn Alley, Ten Speed Press, 2003
7 – 8 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cups pitted prunes
In large plastic bag, combine flour and salt. Working with two or three pieces of chicken at a time, shake the chicken in the bag to coat it thoroughly with flour.
In large sautÃ© pan over medium-high heat, warm canola oil. In batches, add chicken to the pan and cook, turning, until lightly browned on all sides, about 4 – 5 minutes per side total. Using tongs, transfer chicken to the ceramic insert of the slow cooker.
In same sautÃ© pan, place onions and sautÃ© over medium high heat until slightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add wine, scraping bottom of the pan to incorporate browned bits. Add stock and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.Pour onions and sauce over chicken. Add thyme, bay leaves and prunes.
Set cooker to low heat, cover and cook chicken 4 to 5 hours, until very tender and coming off of bones. Remove and discard thyme and bay leaves. Serves 4.
Nutritional Analysis, Per Serving:
700 calories; 23 g fat; 5 g saturated fat; 83 g carbohydrate; 36 g protein; 710 mg sodium
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