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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Ratatouille from Ratatouille


Also known as Confit Byaldi. I loved Ratatouille. Partially because I love Paris, French cuisine and of course Disney. The tagline from the movie, “anyone can cook!” always makes me smile. I was thrilled when J found that the New York Times published this recipe. I’ve had to modify it because spending three to four hours on dinner just doesn’t work for us.  Bon appétit!

Piperade Ingredients:
1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed (we used a whole red and a whole green, they were small)
1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic (we used more at least 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved (we used a can of petite diced tomatoes)
1 sprig thyme (we used dried about 1 teaspoon)
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley (we also used dried, about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 a bay leaf (we used a whole bay leaf)
Kosher salt

Piperade Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely. Combine oil, garlic, and onion (which we precombined in a food processor) in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs (obviously we left the parsley and thyme in the dish, but removed the bay leaf). Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

Ingredients for Vegetables:
1 zucchini, sliced thin
Japanese eggplant sliced thin (if you can’t find Japanese, use regular, we do)
1 yellow squash, sliced thin
4 Roma tomatoes, slicked thin
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (we used more)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Vegetable Directions:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees (we heated the oven to 400 degrees). Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed (this is not an exact science). Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed. Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours (if using a 400 degree oven, check after 30 to 45 minutes). Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (if using a 400 degree oven, cook 5 to 10 minutes uncovered.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm. (If using a 400 degree oven, there will be liquid. We don’t mind the liquid in the bottom. Better to use bread to soak it up! But if you do, follow the same directions for the medium head on the stove top.)

Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Vinaigrette Directions:
Combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

My opinion:
I love this dish in the middle of summer, I love it in winter. It’s just a great refreshing, vegetable filled dish. We serve it with crusty french bread. We serve the leftovers over pasta or blend it into a thick sauce and serve over pasta. Sometimes the second day dishes are a tinge better than the first.