May 25, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Chasseur

I hate leftovers. I get that from my Dad who also hates them. Though some people would eat leftovers for breakfast (sister) and even cold (husband), I avoid them like the plague. I prefer to send all leftovers to work with my husband, or to the trash can. Having said that, I made this recipe last night and...drum roll...I can't wait to eat the leftovers tonight.

Here's a little tidbit of information I pulled from my Food Lover's Companion, a book that I use every once and awhile to look up foods, techniques, etc. It is basically a food encyclopedia, very cool for all foodies. "Chasseur" means hunter in French. Therefore, this recipe is for Hunter's Chicken, French style. The most popular type of Hunter's Chicken is the Italian version - Chicken Cacciatore [kah-chuh-toh-ray]. I am going to go out on a bold limb here and say that I like this better than its Italian counterpart, and you just might too.

I know that sometimes "slow cooker" means "kinda dull." I have started to realise, however, that there are plenty of gourmet and even company-worthy recipes that you make using your slow cooker, and this is one of them. I repeat - I would serve this for any lucky crowd.

Prep: under an hour
Slow cooker time: 3 hours on high
Thickening time: 15-20 minutes after slow cooked
Serve with crusty bread
Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

8 oz of bacon, chopped fine (about 8 normal slices)
4-6 large skin on, bone in chicken thighs
1.25 lbs cremini (swiss brown) mushrooms, quartered
1 red onion, chopped medium
4 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 cups dry white wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 (400 gr) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 oz dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and chopped fine
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

I added a whole carrot, chopped for colour.

1. Turn slow cooker on to preheat. Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until it is crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Add bacon to slow cooker, reserving the fat in a small dish.

2. Dry the chicken with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Add half the bacon fat back into the skillet and heat on medium high until just smoking. Brown chicken, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the browned skin from chicken and add to the slow cooker.

3. Add the rest of the bacon fat to the skillet over medium heat. Add cremini mushrooms, red onion, 1/4 tsp salt and carrots (if using) and cook until mushrooms are brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic until fragrant (about 15 seconds). Add wine and tomato paste and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Pour veggie mixture into slow cooker.

4. Add the tomatoes, 1.5 cups of the broth (saving .5 cup for step 5), porcini mushrooms, thyme, bay leaves and red pepper flakes to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.

Simmer the sauce and flour mixture over medium heat to thicken
5. Remove chicken from slow cooker and put on plate, tenting loosely with foil. Pour the mixture into large skillet over medium heat. Whisk the flour into the remaining .5 cup of broth and stir into the sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes until sauce is thickened and doesn't taste like flour. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Pour sauce over chicken in a shallow bowl, garnish with parsley and serve with warm crusty bread on the side.

Serve and prepare to take your praise!

Serving suggestion: Overnight Artisan Crusty Bread