Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

We’ve been using our crockpot quite a bit lately. We’ve also discovered the wonderful boneless skinless chicken thighs from one of our favorite grocery stores (or go-see store as our toddler calls them). The benefit of cooking the thighs in the crockpot is they dry out less and are more flavorful than the traditional chicken breasts. Cooking Light’s crockpot recipes have become a go-to source. I did not expect this recipe to be as good as it was. Even the toddler ate some of it!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1/2 cup white wine (or chicken stock)
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano (we ended up using dried)
1/4 cup drained capers
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (we left this out because the toddler was eating with us)
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28-oz.) container diced tomatoes (such as Pomì) (I accidentally used only the 14.5 ounce can)
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cremini mushrooms, quartered (the grocery store was out of these, so we just left them out)
8 (6-oz.) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (about 3 lb.) (we only had three boneless ones left, it worked fine)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in half
5 ounces baby spinach
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)

Directions:
Combine 1/2 cup water and flour in your favorite crockpot, stirring with a whisk. (Note: You can also use corn starch, which we will do next time.) Stir in stock and next 8 ingredients (through mushrooms). Add chicken thighs to the stock mixture; submerge in liquid. Cover and cook on LOW 7 1/2 hours (ours cooked about 9). Remove chicken. Leave whole or chop if using boneless skinless. If using bone-in, wait for them to cool, then remove bones.
Add oil and pasta to slow cooker sauce; cover and cook on HIGH 15 minutes or until pasta is done to your liking. (It took a little longer than 15 minutes for us.) Stir in spinach until wilted. Divide pasta mixture and top evenly with chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

My opinion:
I didn’t expect the capers to add so much to the dish. It was the right amount of salt and sweet from the tomatoes. The pasta cooked perfectly. Next time, I will use the corn starch and reduce the amount of liquid a little for the initial cooking phase. If we need more to cook the pasta, I’ll add more at that time. All in all a good, flavorful dish that is perfect for a weeknight.

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Self Magazine’s Shrimp and Orzo (modified)

(Note: this is a guest post from Matt LaCasse. He and I have traded recipes since before he started #cookchat.)

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve been seeing me use the hashtag #hawaiidiet. As a part of this diet, my wife and I get 8 ounces of meat a day, but that’s limited to seafood, chicken or turkey. Up to this point in my life, I’ve had a saying that goes something like, “If it’s from the sea, it’s not for me.” I’ve had to get over that since one can only eat so much chicken and/or turkey. So, I turned to the one place I knew I could get a fantastic shrimp recipe. The host of this here blog.

God bless Aurora. She sent me this recipe for shrimp. I’ll give the recipe (from Self Magazine) as it’s supposed to be made first:

  • 1 cup dry orzo
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound medium shelled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 cup feta

#Hawaiidiet also bans dairy products, so the feta was out, and I’d never heard of capers before this, didn’t have any on hand, and so ended up substituting cilantro. Orzo was also out due to the no carbs aspect of the diet. So, here’s what I ended up using:

  • 2 Tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup green onions (Didn’t have an onion on hand, used these instead, worked great)
  • 1 Tb garlic powder (Thought I had garlic on hand, but I didn’t. This worked OK)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar (Again, didn’t have any white wine on hand)
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tbs parsley (I used dried parsley)
  • 1 tbs cilantro
  • The rest of the ingredients I used as listed

This was a GREAT recipe. It was a bit spicier than I had expected, but that wasn’t a bad thing. There’s LOTS of flavor here, and I really wish I could have used feta and orzo as I have no doubt that makes this taste completely different. It was a little over-tomatoey, but I’m chalking that up to the lack of feta and orzo. The cilantro added a little citrus twist to it, which I really enjoyed and would add to the original recipe; then again, I’m a cilantro freak.

Thanks to Aurora for passing along the recipe! This and a tilapia recipe she passed along have been big hits at Casa de LaCasse and will become a part of the regular rotation.