First, right off the bat, yes, there is a giveaway going on here this week. Before we get to that, however, I’d like to give you a little history behind how this one came to be.
I’ve owned slow cookers since the day I moved out on my own. I think my first one came along with me from my parents’ kitchen, thanks to my mom. Subsequent cookers were either given to me as family hand-me-downs or bought at yard sales.
Then the Kenmore Bloggers’ Summit happened. The team I was on won a cooking challenge and I came home with a brand new, beautiful Kenmore slow cooker. Never been used, straight out of the box, new.
And it sat on the counter for months, unused. You’ve done that, right?
The brushed metal was so pristine. The insert didn’t have a single scratch or stain. The front panel had buttons and pretty green and red lights. I plugged the cooker in to watch them blink. Then I unplugged it again. And I didn’t use it.
But, as all things go in our house, there comes a point where a ‘thing’ has to earn its keep. I’m not big on the whole cleaning thing, so if an item wants to sit around my house, it better be useful.
I plugged in my slow cooker, added ingredients and have never looked back.
Fast forward to February 24 and visualize me sitting in front of my computer perusing Facebook. Suddenly, without warning, this popped up (well darn, it appears to be impossible to make a facebook post sound dramatic):
I gasped in surprise and amazement (yup, still hard). I didn’t care about the slow cooker because I own a most awesome one, but I thought to myself, ‘Self, I want that cookbook. I want one of my friends to have that cookbook. We need that cookbook.’
So, I wrote the really cool people at Fine Cooking a note and asked if they’d send me a copy to review as well as make another available for you guys to try and win in a giveaway. A cookbook was in the mail the next day.
And here we are.
There are two groups of slow cooker recipes. The first is what you use when you’re in a hurry to get to work. With this type of dish you just throw things in the insert, lid it, turn it on and walk out the door.
The second requires prep. The slow cooker does the job of the oven, but there’s a bit of time required at the cutting board and stove before pushing that ‘on’ button and walking away. This recipe is one of those.
Normally, I’m not a fan of sautéing chicken without its skin because the meat gets a bit … crunchy. In this case, however, it works well since the pieces are coated with a flour mixture so they’re still protected. Plus, the thighs went from the skillet to the slow cooker and were going spend four hours getting nice and soft.
So, have at it with the skillet and brown the chicken before adding it to the cooker.
The same skillet is used to soften the onions and make the sauce, which is then poured over the chicken before the lid goes on, the cooker is set to low and the timer to four hours.
I was a little concerned while making the sauce on the stove because it didn’t smell as awesome as I thought it should. Luckily, four hours in the slow cooker changed that, a lot.
This dish is delicious. Hubby and I both loved it. Yes, Dudette did too. She refused to do the video review, however, because she was embarrassed that this was another meal she thought she would dislike but really enjoyed.
I did think that the sauce, which is transferred to a saucepan and reduced prior to serving, was a bit too thick after that final process, but the flavor was still fantastic. The five-spice powder and lemongrass really shine.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d skip the final reduction on the stove.
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 5 grinds black pepper
- 2½ pounds bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
- ¼ cup toasted sesame oil
- 2 cups finely chopped red onions (about 1 large onion)
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts only; more for garnish (optional)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- ⅓ cup honey
- 3 tablespoon fresh-squeezed, strained lime juice
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1½-inch piece lemongrass, smashed with a chef's knife
- ½ teaspoon wasabi paste
- 2 cups cooked long-grain rice, for serving (optional)
- Freshly grated lime zest, for garnish (optional)
- Finely chopped, fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, five-spice powder, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken and coat, shaking off (and reserving) the excess flour. Heat half of the oil in a 10-inch, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add half of the chicken and cook, turning over halfway through, until lightly golden brown on both sides, about 7 minutes. Place in the slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining chicken, about another 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining oil, reserved seasoned flour, onions, scallions, and garlic to the pan. Sauté until the onions are softened, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients (except for the rice and the garnishes). Add this liquid mixture to the pan, and bring to a boil. Cook for another 5 minutes, then pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on low until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 4 hours. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter.
- Pour the cooking liquid into a medium-size heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the liquid reduces by about half, about 12 minutes. Pour over the chicken and serve with rice, garnishing with zest, scallions, and cilantro, if desired.
Now for the fun part. Fine Cooking is providing another cookbook for one of my friends here. All you have to do is enter to win using the Rafflecopter thingy below.
Also know that while Fine Cooking gave me the cookbook, they realize that I give honest reviews and if I didn’t like the recipes in it, I’d let you know. As it stands, so far I really like what I’ve seen, not only with regard to the recipes, but the photography, notes and tips as well.
So, there we have it. I hope you’ll enter and join me as I review more recipes from Year-Round Slow Cooker over this week. I’m thinking Slow-Cooked Ratatouille will be next.