Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Slow-Cooker Chicken=2 Great Meals

Slow cookers have been around forever for a reason:  You can buy inexpensive ingredients, throw them into the cooker, turn the dial and come home to a savory meal.

What's more, the leftovers are so deeply flavored and versatile.

My most recent slow cooker experiment:  Spain-Meets-Italy Chicken.  The chicken is seasoned with smoked paprika, coriander, oregano and chili flakes, seared in olive oil with onions and wine and slowly simmered in garlic-basil broth and sun-dried tomatoes.  Delicious.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 broiler/fryer chicken, cut up, skin removed
2 tablespoons Williams-Sonoma Potlatch Seasoning
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup dry white wine or Beringer White Zinfandel (to add a little sweetness)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup slivered sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil)

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with Potlatch Seasoning on all sides, rubbing it in well.  Add it to the skillet and brown it well.  Using tongs, remove the chicken from the skillet and add it to the slow cooker.

Add the onion to the drippings, reducing the heat if necessary, and cook until the onions are golden.  Add the garlic.  Cook for 1 minute.  Deglaze the pan with the wine.  Season with salt, pepper and basil.  Stir in the broth.  Pour over the chicken.  Scatter the tomatoes over the top.  Cover with the lid and cook the chicken on High for 4-5 hours or on Low for 8 hours.

Excellent accompaniment:  Marcela Valladolid's Foolproof Mexican Rice.  Marcela used frozen peas as a final flourish to her rice.  I used frozen corn instead.  Also, her recipe calls for a medium-grain rice.  My store didn't have it, so I substituted regular long-grain rice.  It worked just fine.

Next day's delight:  Chicken Tortilla Soup.

The leftover chicken and Mexican rice form the base of one amazing (and easy!) soup.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
Kosher salt, to taste
2 cups cubed leftover Spain-Meets-Italy Chicken (and any remaining onions and tomatoes from the pot)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 can (14.5 oz.) Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, undrained. (Canned tomatoes with green chiles may be substituted.  Add oregano and cumin to taste.)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups leftover Foolproof Mexican rice
1 quart chicken stock or broth (Stock is better!)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Seasoning
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 can (15.5 oz.) Goya Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Sour cream, cilantro, tortilla chips and shredded cheese, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add onions and bell pepper.  Cook for five minutes.  Add the salt and garlic.  Cook for 2 minutes longer.  Stir in the chicken, corn and tomatoes.  Heat through.  Deglaze with the wine.  Add the rice, stock, water, seasoning, herbs and beans.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Garnish and serve.  Thick, hearty and flavorful!
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