If I didn't find it slightly embarrassing I'd be gushing about how much I love my slow cooker right now. Even given the massive lifestyle change I've made this year — from working at a fashion magazine to testing recipes for SPC — there are lines I pledged not to cross when I became a parent. Yoga pants worn while not in an actual yoga class being the most important, obviously, but also purely social coffee dates during the work day and addressing my husband as Daddy in front of the kids. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with any of these things (except I do feel a bit squeamish when spouses call each other Mom and Dad). Everyone has to figure out their own way to enter Parent World, these are just the roads I avoid.
Enthusiasm for time-saving appliances just never made it on my list. So un-sexy, it just went without saying. But what can I say?
We've had the gleaming Krups slow cooker in a hard to reach cupboard for, oh, five years now. A wedding gift — thanks Eric and Sue! — that I've been meaning to pull down and figure out, it finally made its way out this weekend. What a fool I've been! Once I got over the initial weirdness of chopping carrots and potatoes at 8 a.m. I was hooked. About twenty minutes of prep, six hours doing its thing, quietly on the counter, and dinner is ready. What's not to love?
Simple Chicken Stew
6 chicken thighs, skinless, bone in
1 potato, peeled and cubed
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
splash vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (1 teaspoon if you're using dried)
1 or 2 bay leaves
1/4 cup flour
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup light cream
Parboil the potatoes for about two minutes.
In a dutch oven or high-sided skillet, sautee onions, celery and carrots in a splash of vegetable oil for about five minutes. Add the flour, thyme and bay leaves and stir for a minute. Add the stock and stir until smooth. Simmer for 3 or 4 minutes until sauce thickens. Add parboiled potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste.
Place chicken thighs in the bottom of your trusty slow cooker and spoon the vegetable mixture over. Seal and set for 6 hours.
Check chicken to see that it's cooked through. Add peas and cream and seal and cook for 10 more minutes. Serve!
Esme loved this dinner. I knew she was buttering me up in order to get dessert but I didn't mind. Julian's a bit small to handle broth on his own but he let me give him a bit and loved all the elements of this stew. And I'll definitely be on the lookout for more ways to use my slow cooker. Got any ideas?