Well, I guess it is still winter, so let's make slow cooker chicken stew.
What I love about the slow cooker (a statement I never thought I'd make) is that you can really throw any combination of meat, broth and veggies in it and end up with a lovely satisfying meal with little to no effort. At the end of the day (literally) you can serve up a wonderful meal that satisfies both young and old alike.
I've added a ton of root veggies, some porcini mushroom stock, and lots of garlic for a very tasty and hearty stew. The veggies and mushroom stock add an earthy sweetness to the final product.
My neighbors have a ten month old baby. I offered some of this stew to him and he went crazy. He was eating with two hands, the meat, the stewed fennel and the carrots. He made all sorts of appreciative noises, too, and kept reaching for more. I couldn't ask for a better endorsement of the tastiness of this stew.
Well, I got one. My 14 year old daughter was skeptical at first, based on the not-so-pretty-ness of the chicken itself. Once I shredded it up and convinced her to give it a try, she was hooked. The meat was juicy and sweet and tasted of all the great veggies that surrounded it while it cooked.
If this slow cooker chicken stew can please kids aged ten months to 14 years old, then I think it's well worth making. Oh, and of course, the adults loved it, too.
Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
- 6 strips bacon, cut up into small pieces
- 3 onions, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thick rings
- 1 bulb fennel, fronds and hard ends removed, cut into chunks
- 1 bulb garlic, skin removed, cloves crushed
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 20 oil cured olives, pits removed
- 6 chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (or bacon grease, if you have it)
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 to 2 porcini mushroom boullion cubes (or you can replace the 1 cup of water with wild mushroom broth)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Dry the chicken thighs and coat each piece thoroughly in the rice flour.
- Put the diced bacon in a small saucepan and over with water.
- Boil the bacon in the water for ten minutes, drain, dry and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium to high heat.
- Add the bacon fat (or olive oil).
- Place each chicken thigh in the hot pan, skin side down. Do not crowd the thighs, you may need to cook them in batches, to make sure there is enough space in the pan.
- Cook on the first side for 5 minutes, then flip the thighs over and cook for an additional five minutes. Remove to crock pot and set aside.
- Once all of the chicken has been browned and removed, add the root vegetables and the boiled bacon to the hot pan. Brown on all sides, making sure to scrape up all the flour onto the veggies.
- Add the vegetables and bacon to the slow cooker, arranging the chicken to rest slightly on top of the veggies.
- Add the chicken stock and the porcini boullion cube to the hot pan, cooking long enough to dissolve the boullion.
- Pour the stock over the chicken and vegetables in the slow cooker. Add water to cover, if you haven't got enough liquid to get to the minimum fill line.
- Turn the slow cooker on to low and cook for 6 hours.