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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Carbonara


We’ve put off trying this recipe for a while because it seemed complicated. That couldn’t be further from the truth! It was really very easy, though a bit temperamental. The original post cites Rachel Ray as the original creator as published in Woman’s Day magazine.

Ingredients:
1 box spaghetti (about a pound)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lb pancetta, roughly chopped (we ended up using about 3 ounces because that’s what came in the package)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (we used a pinot grigio)
3 large egg yolks
freshly grated Romano cheese (optional, but J swears it’s better with the cheese. Parmesan works too in a pinch)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (you’ll want to use more pepper than salt!)

Directions:
Boil the pasta according to the package directions in salted water. (You will need to reserve at least a cup of the pasta water for use later in the recipe!) While the pasta is boiling, heat a large skillet over medium heat (you;ll be adding the pasta to the skillet). Add the olive oil and pancetta to the warmed skillet. Brown  the pancetta for about two minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for up to three more minutes (remove or turn down the heat if the pancetta starts to burn). Add the wine and deglaze the pan. In a separate  bowl, beat the egg yolks and add 1/2 cup of the pasta water. According to the original recipe, adding the pasta water to the yolks tempers them so they don’t scramble. If you haven’t already drained the pasta, do so now. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Toss to coat the pasta. Don’t cook the egg! Remove from heat. Add cheese, pepper and salt. Continue tossing the pasta until the egg mixture thickens and the pasta absorbs most of it. Serve immediately with extra cheese.

My opinion:
Salty and creamy, this is the perfect dinner for a fall evening. If you find the dish too salty, cut back on the added salt at the end. When reheating, make sure to use a little olive oil or reheat by covering the bottom of a pan with chicken stock or broth and adding the pasta. Otherwise, it dries out.