It’s time to bust out my slow cooker again! I actually usually try to do one slow cooker meal a week because on the days that I go from work to class I leave at 8:30 am and don’t get home again until 9:30 pm. For one of the days I tend to make fish meals because you can usually throw those together in 20 minutes, while on the other day I do slow cooker meals.
The reason I haven’t been posting slow cooker meals lately? My slow cooker was broken! Finished, kaput, dead (which caused me to ruin 2 meals in a row thinking I had done something wrong). Luckily I was well within my warranty period and they were nice enough to send me out a brand new one free of charge.
But it took two weeks to get here which is why there’s been no meals with it in over a month! Now that classes have started again I’m glad that my cooker arrived just in time.
I think I mentioned before that we buy 5 – 6 whole chickens every three to four months and just break them into parts ourselves. I find that it 1) saves us money and 2) is more conducive to healthy eating.
Next time we break some chickens down I’ll have some step by step directions on how to do it (I watched many wonderful videos and read a lot of different tutorials to figure it out) and I’ll go more in depth about why we go through the trouble.
But for this post let’s focus on the Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore recipe I’ve detailed below. This is not a life changing recipe. You won’t eat it and suddenly realize that you’ve finally figured out the secret to life.
What this is, is a good solid recipe that’s perfect for those busy nights when you just want to come home to a perfectly cooked and comforting meal. I served mine with mashed potatoes (because I had to use what was left from the CSA) but I think next time I’d either go roasted potatoes or pasta. It needed something with a bit of bite to it to contrast the softer texture of the meat and sauce.
As you can see in the picture above of the drum without sauce covering it, I’m a big fan of browning meats before putting them in the slow cooker. Notice that even though the drum is skinless it doesn’t look like it. Browning also has the added benefit of making sure the meat stays together even though it still ends up fork tender.
Since I had the pan out anyway to brown my chicken I decided to soften all of my vegetables. If you’re in a rush, feel free to skip this step (or you could even microwave the vegetables, seasonings, and half the tomato paste together for about 5 minutes for about the same effect) while skipping the browning of the chicken.
- 1.5 lb drumsticks (8 drums from my broken down organic chickens weighs this much – if using store bought you may have to just buy a pack of four)
- 1 ½ tsp salt free Italian seasoning (if you’re using the kind with salt either skip the added salt altogether or go light on it)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- ¼ oz dried porcini or portabella mushrooms
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 6 oz can Italian seasoned tomato paste, divided
- ¼ cup red wine
- 1 tsp salt free Italian seasoning (if you’re using the kind with salt either skip the added salt altogether or go light on it)
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- ½ tsp celery seed
- ½ tsp brown sugar
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 14.5 oz can Italian style diced tomatoes
- 8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
- 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
- Fresh basil – sliced to garnish
- Heat ½ Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Place flour in shallow pan. Season chicken with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper then dredge in flour.
- Brown in oil until all sides are lightly browned, about 4 – 8 minutes. The goal is not to cook the chicken through but to get a nice crust on the outside. When done, remove from skillet and set aside.
- In same skillet, add in onions, dried mushrooms, garlic, and half of the tomato paste. Saute for about 3 - 4 minutes until everything has softened. Pour in ¼ cup of red wine and deglaze pan, making sure to get all of the browned bits off of the bottom. Pour into bottom of slow cooker. Place chicken drums on top of vegetable mixture.
- In a separate bowl, combine diced tomatoes with juice, 8 oz sliced mushrooms, green pepper, all of the seasonings (Italian seasoning through salt and pepper), bay leaf and crushed red pepper (optional). Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high for 3 – 4 hours or on low for 7 – 8 hours.
- When done remove drums from cooker and set aside. Taste sauce and add in any additional salt, pepper or seasonings (after hours of cooking sometimes flavors get muted). Discard bay leaf. Serve with sauce poured over drums. Garnish with sliced fresh basil (if using).
It’s pretty simple and results in the most tender chicken. As soon as you bite into a drum the meat basically strips itself from the bone. If you wanted you could even strip the meat off of all the drums yourself, removing any bone or cartilage, and mix it into the sauce and serve it that way.