I recently acquired a crock pot, and I have been very excited about cooking in it! First of all– you can throw a bunch of food in the crock pot before work, and when you get home it’s a delightful, fragrant meal. Second– there are always leftovers! Does it get any better than that?
Yesterday I broke in my crock pot by making Chicken Cacciatore (here’s the recipe). With one painful exception, it’s super easy! (I’ll get to that exception in a minute.)
One thing I’ve noticed about cooking– it begets more cooking. From past projects, I already had a few items I needed for this recipe– garlic cloves, flour and basil (I used flakes instead of fresh). And now I have several more ingredients for future recipes– kosher salt, tomato paste and chicken broth. So… now I have to cook some more!
The recipe called for TWO chopped onions. Two. I’m not a major onion girl. I never get them at In ‘N Out. (Not even grilled– I find them overpowering.) Cooking-wise, I get their value– onions are totally necessary in stuffing, latkes, etc. At home I always leave the kitchen while my dad or youngest sister does the chopping. (She eats onions like apples. WHAT?!) And at Sam’s we buy pre-chopped onions (because he is the smartest).
I like to follow a new recipe as closely as I can, so I put my worries aside and went for it with the onions. (And didn’t even look for pre-chopped… whoops.) Which was dumb, because I forgot that onions BURN my eyes like a MOFO. Seriously within seconds of the first slice, it seemed as though the onion had released an evil tear-gas bomb. (And I know my eye pain… this was bad.) I was moaning in such a way that my neighbors probably thought I was having painful sex.
I ran from the kitchen, dabbing at my eyes with a paper towel. I seriously debated scrapping the whole project. But then I sucked it up, went back in, and chopped the onions under running water. BOTH of them. Like a boss.
After that, everything else was a breeze. You don’t even have to stir the ingredients, because as they cook they’ll all soup up and merge. (My mom always had a strict don’t-open-the-lid rule, and I stand by that.)
I think my favorite new ingredient was tomato paste. It looked like toothpaste and smelled like ketchup! Let’s be real– I would probably brush my teeth with tomato paste. Maybe.
In the background, that’s mushrooms with 1/4 cup of flour sprinkled over them. This recipe was relatively healthy– no butter, no oil. I think that’s a crock pot advantage? I don’t know– what do I know? I haven’t crock-potted since college. (Sexy.)
Luckily my pot was JUST big enough to hold all of the ingredients. Whew!
I always thought that peppers were a mandatory ingredient in Chicken Cacciatore, but this recipe didn’t call for them. Maybe they’re not crock pot friendly? Maybe there just wasn’t enough room? I wonder what would happen if you replaced one onion with one pepper… less crying, that’s for sure.
Four and a half hours on “high” later, the meal had shrunk down a bit– and smelled amazing.
I cooked up a pot of linguine to serve with the chicken. After a sprinkling of basil, it was ready to eat! (I was also supposed to serve with grated cheese, but I completely forgot about it. Whoops. Next time.)
The best thing about cooking chicken in a crock pot is that it comes out falling-apart tender. It’s pretty much impossible to cook chicken that way on the stove or the grill– and a lot of pan-cooked chicken ends up dry, because people overcook it out of fear of E. Coli, etc.
You don’t even need a knife. Just a nudge and it’s all yummy-shreddy.
And you know what? Even the onions were good. All the acid gets cooked out, so they just taste nice and veggie-ish. I kinda wish it was a little more tomato-y– like, I might even add a little sauce when I eat the leftovers. (I guess you could dump in two cans, if it would all fit.) But I’m a tomato fiend, so that might just be me.
Mmmm…. it might be time for leftovers right now! I love crock-potting. (Yes, it’s a verb now.)
You can have this for dinner tonight, if you run to the store now! (I recommend you stock up either way… the grocery strike looms. While I was buying these ingredients, they were training strike-time replacement workers at my local Albertson’s… sigh.)