It is that time of the year.
Hurricane season started on June 1st and as a result things have started to calm down around the island. While I understand that tourist do not want to take the risk of possibly dealing with a hurricane on their vacation, if you ask me, it is my favorite time of the year during the slow months.
Here is why: (1) it is not as hot as most cities are in North America (we always have a really nice breeze) this time of the year, (2) there are as many people around, and (3) hotels and flights are much cheaper.
Even still, there is always the risk of finding yourself in the middle of a hurricane.
Before you know it, it will be August (the height of hurricane season) and most hotels and restaurants will be closed through mid October. I must admit – that is when it feels really strange. With most locals leaving the island for their summer vacation, our island turns into a desert island.
No tourists and no locals… it feels weird.
Though this year, I am actually looking forward to it. Because I have some plans…
Plans like spending a full day on the beach where there is absolutely nobody around. Or getting together with friends and instead of going out to a restaurant, cooking and eating at home and having a good time without the worry of getting up early to go to work the next day.
Therefore, as a part of my plan, I am working on recipes that will give me excellent results with the least amount of time spent in the kitchen. Because you see, since I am planning to spend the whole day on the beach, I do not want to have to allot too much time for cooking. And since I want to entertain friends, I need food that is enough for a small crowd of at least 6 people.
Last but not least, it has got to be delicious.
This Slow Cooker Chicken Stew does all that and more. I found it in America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook. Unlike most slow cooker chicken recipes, this recipe requires you to brown the chicken prior to placing it in the slow cooker, which may sound like a lot of work for a slow cooker dish. However, I think for a moist and tender chicken stew, a little bit of an extra effort is well worth the time.
On a side note, America’s Test Kitchen suggests that for best results, it is better to cook at a low heat setting for a longer time rather than at a high heat setting for a shorter time. I did that and the result was simply delicious.
Also, it is freezer friendly. Once frozen, all you have to do to defrost it is to place it in the fridge overnight and it will be ready to serve next day.
It is a meal that is hearty and delicious with minimal effort. Try it and you shall see.
Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
- 3 pounds chicken thighs boneless and skinless – trimmed
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth preferably homemade
- 2-3 Yukon gold potatoes peeled and cut into small cubes
- 4 carrots peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley minced
- Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season both sides of it with 1- teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet ( I used my cast iron skillet) over medium heat.
- Brown the first half of the chicken on both sides, 7-8 minutes (3-4 minutes on each side). Place it on a plate. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and continue with the second half of the chicken. At this point, chicken will not cook thoroughly (we are just browning it). Cover the chicken with aluminum folio and set aside. Do not wash the skillet.
- Heat 1 more tablespoon of oil in the same skillet. Add onions, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent, 9-10 minutes. Stir in the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, for a minute. Slowly whisk in the wine, ensuring that the brown bits at the bottom of the pan are mixed in as well. Pour in 1 cup of the chicken broth and stir until there are no lumps in the mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes and transfer it into the slow cooker.
- Place carrots and potatoes in a medium sized bowl. Cover it with stretch film. Microwave it for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Transfer it to the slow cooker. Add the remaining 3 cups of chicken broth into the slow cooker.
- Nestle the chicken and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Cook 4 hours in high or 6 hours in low heat.
- Take out the chicken thighs and shred (or cut into small bite size chunks). Place them back into the slow cooker.
- Add the frozen peas and cook for 5-7 minutes, until they are cooked through.
- Take out the bay leaves, taste for seasoning, and add if necessary.
- Sprinkle it with fresh parsley, and serve.
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook.