Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

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

serves 8


  • 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


  1. Dry the chicken thighs and coat each piece thoroughly in the rice flour.
  2. Put the diced bacon in a small saucepan and over with water.
  3. Boil the bacon in the water for ten minutes, drain, dry and set aside.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium to high heat.
  5. Add the bacon fat (or olive oil).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Add the vegetables and bacon to the slow cooker, arranging the chicken to rest slightly on top of the veggies.
  10. Add the chicken stock and the porcini boullion cube to the hot pan, cooking long enough to dissolve the boullion.
  11. 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.
  12. Turn the slow cooker on to low and cook for 6 hours.

Chicken, honey? Sure, but it's Honey Chicken.

One night, a few months ago, just when I started shooting almost every meal I made for this here site, my friend came to dinner.

She is a lovely tiny woman. But she can eat. Which is just the kind of friends I love to have. When she arrived, I realized I hadn't come up with a main dish. There were some chicken thighs in the fridge, so I started there. As I thought about what else I had in the house, I came across some fresh oregano and sherry vinegar. The recipe began to form in my head, all I needed was some lemon and a bit of honey and we were off and cooking.

It's a simple affair, if a little messy. I started by heating a pan to super hot, added some oil and salt and put the chicken thighs in skin side down. The fat splatters, so be ready for a little bit of cleanup. The extra step of searing these on the stove top before baking them makes the skin come out super crisp and delicious.

The key to this dish is the combination of the honey, sherry vinegar and oregano. You add these just before the chicken goes into a hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes. And let me tell you, the chicken comes out moist, a little sweet, and very tender. I served it with some roasted brussels sprouts and a quinoa salad. Most delicious.

This past weekend, I found myself with some chicken thighs and recreated the dish for my daughter. She ate two pieces and asked that I save the others for her dinner the next night. A hit, if I do say so myself, and a dish that is so quick to make, I can do it on a weeknight while helping with homework.

So if you are asked "Chicken, honey?" I hope that you respond "Sure, but it's Honey Chicken."

Honey Chicken with Oregano and Sherry Vinegar

makes 4 portions


  • 4 Chicken thighs, skin-on and with bones
  • 4 Tbsps Olive Oil
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 3 sprigs fresh Oregano (or 1 tsp Dried Oregano)
  • 3/4 cup Sherry Vinegar (Red Wine Vinegar works here, or just some leftover White Wine is good, too)
  • 2 Tbsps Honey (I like the dark amber kind)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Heat up a large non-reactive skillet over high heat.
  3. Put the olive oil and salt in the pan once it is super hot (technical term).
  4. Place the chicken thighs in the pan, skin-side down.
  5. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the skin starts to curl up on the edges.
  6. Turn the thighs over. Cook for 1 minute more.
  7. Turn off the heat. Add the sherry vinegar.
  8. Turn the heat back on and cook for 2 minutes.
  9. Add the honey, turn off the heat and put the pan in the preheated oven.
  10. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken juice runs clear.
  11. Remove from the oven, let rest for 5 minutes, and then dig in.

Salt and Pepper Chicken

Salt and pepper chicken. Yum.

I was watching the Cooking Channel and saw a piece on salt and pepper chicken. It never occurred to me that I could actually make anything salt and pepper related in my own kitchen. My sister always orders pork prepared this way from her local Chinese restaurant and I love it.

The idea of having a crispy skin covered in salt made me very happy to think about. So, I took notes on the recipe and gathered my ingredients. It looked pretty easy and fell well into my gluten-free and dairy-free preferences.

Up until this point, I had never deep fried anything. The fear of consuming all of the properly prepared donuts and other deep fried goodness I might be able to make gave me pause. It kept the vats of boiling oil at bay. Until now.

Most of the appeal was in the challenge to see if I could make chicken that tasted as good as some of the fantastic wings that are available in many of SF's excellent Chinese restaurants. I was also intrigued by the ingredients and the act of deep frying itself.

And so, on a Tuesday night, we got started. At first, I didn't believe it could be as simple as the following recipe (from Ching He-Huang of the Cooking Channel's Easy Chinese: San Francisco) suggested. Boy, was it ever. The hardest part was crushing up the peppercorns , which I was hoping would be bigger than your traditional grinder could supply.

The best part was the moment the coated chicken hit the hot oil. It was so cool to see how the skin immediately crunched up. I will say, though, I was raised by a woman (you know, Gran Fran) who lived in mortal fear of pans and ingredients catching on fire.

I recall at some point, I think it was Junior High, there was duck being roasted at our house. Gran Fran was convinced that a fire was going to break out, due to the high fat content of the duck skin, so the fire department was called. To be honest, not sure I saw any fire coming from the oven, but I remember the neighbors coming out to see what the heck was going on in the Claro household.

Needless to say, I am cautious with flames and deep frying. I had my phone at the ready, in case I inadvertently set the house on fire. Next time Gran Fran comes to town, I'll make her this fantastic recipe and maybe put her mind at ease that her youngest has the sense to proceed with care, while stepping out a bit.

Salt and Pepper Chicken

recipe and method reposted from: Easy Chinese: San Francisco, Ching He-Huang


  • 6 chicken thighs, each piece chopped in half across the bone
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons cornstarch, for dusting
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 4 to 6 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped


  • Place the chicken thighs in a large bowl. Cover the chicken with the light soy sauce, Chinese five-spice powder, salt and garlic, and stir to coat.
  • Toss the chicken with the toasted sesame oil.
  • Let marinate for as much time as you have; for best results, leave the chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
  • When ready to fry, toss the chicken pieces in the cornstarch.
  • Heat a large wok or pan over high heat and add the vegetable oil.
  • Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, add the chicken and fry lightly until the thighs are golden brown on all sides and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Drain the chicken on paper towels and season them with salt, pepper and cilantro as they come out of the oil.

Thanks, Ching He-Huang! This recipe will be in regular rotation at our house from here on out.


Winner, Chicken Dinner.

We ate lots of chicken growing up, but Gran Fran got hers from a butcher. A nice, old place, run by a bunch of (as I recall her saying) good looking German men. They'd always give me a mini hot dog while they got our order together.

The quality of the meat Gran Fran bought (and still does) raised all of us with the taste for only the best. She generally stuck to chicken breasts, sometimes legs if there was frying going on, or whole chickens for roasting.

As an adult, therefore, Chicken thighs were a revelation to me. I get the feeling that using Chicken thighs vs some fancier part of the chicken, ranked up there with buying inferior meat products, in Gran Fran's world. Because the flavor and moistness of thighs is sooooo good, I am straying from the Gran Fran and using Chicken thighs a lot.

The recipe featured here only takes about 30 minutes to marinate, saute and then bake, so it's an excellent weeknight meal. I made it for a friend, and served my daughter (remember Ms Iz?) some of the leftovers. Being somewhat cautious about sauces and flavors, I worried Ms Iz would not eat it. But, to my joy, she loved it and has asked me to make it again.

Goes to show, I should probably make the 12 year old eat more sauces....

Chicken Thighs with Oregano, Honey, Mustard and Lemon

  • 8 chicken thighs

  • 2 tbsps Honey

  • 1 tbsp Mustard

  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil, plus more for sauteeing

  • Juice of 1 Lemon

  • 2 cloves Garlic, sliced thinly

  • 1/4 tsp Dried Oregano

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • 1/4 cup White Wine or Dry Vermouth

  • In a large non-reactive(!) bowl, place honey, mustard, olive oil, one half of the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. 

  • Stir until all ingredients are mixed well.

  • Add chicken thighs. Using your hands, thoroughly cover the chicken with the marinade.

  • Set aside for five minutes (if you have more time, you can let it sit for as long as you'd like).

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  • Once chicken has marinated for as long as you have, heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat.
  • Add oil when the pan is good and hot.
  • Place chicken thighs skin side down onto pan. Pour remaining marinade over chicken.
  • Do not disturb them for five to eight minutes, until you see the side of the skin curling up a bit.
  • Move thighs to one side of pan, add garlic slices and quickly turn over the thighs to rest on top of the garlic.
  • Squeeze remaining one half lemon juice over top of the chicken.
  • Remove pan from flame.
  • Add white wine or vermouth, trying to pour it underneath the chicken, so as to not soak the skin side.
  • Sprinkle oregano, salt and pepper over the chicken.
  • Place pan in preheated oven and bake for twelve more minutes, until meat is cooked through and juices run clear.