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Having Fun With Crock Pot Cooking

February 23, 2014 16 comments

DSC_0472Do you like French Onion soup? Okay, this is not necessarily the question I want to ask. It is not about the soup, the question is really about the small, typically glazed and bright brown in color crock pots in which the French onion soup is often served in the restaurant. I don’t know about you, but for me the sight alone of such a crock pot is heartwarming and homey, it has the words “comfort” and “relax” written all over it in the big bold letters.

The great things about those little crock pots is that their versatility allows you to go well beyond just the french onion soup – this is a mini casserole dish, which is perfectly suitable for making any type of stew. Also, because of the small size and somewhat individual portioning, while you might be making mostly the same dish for the family, you can make adjustments to each small pot based on the individual preferences – no broccoli in this one, no mushrooms in that, and triple jalapeno for the last.

The dish which I want to talk about today is pretty much chicken and potatoes stew. My original idea was to use the chicken sausage, but – my daughter doesn’t like sausage, so this is where the small pot versatility comes to the play – I can easily make an adjustment for her and use just chicken instead of the sausage. And yes, of course, the same is true about all other ingredients. I’m sure you got my point.

Okay, here we go:
Crock Pot Chicken and Potatoes Stew (makes 4 crock pots)

Prep time: 40 minutes, cooking time: 1 hour

1 lb of chicken thighs (you can use sausages, chicken breast, anything), cut up in a small pieces about an inch in size

2 large onions, diced

1.5 lb carrots, sliced into small pieces (1/4″)

4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced

1 lb mushrooms, sliced

1/2 lb fresh peas

4 tbsp chicken broth (can be substituted with water, wine, any cooking liquid)

salt, pepper to taste

[olive] oil for frying

4 dry bay leaves

whole allspice (optional) – few berries per crock pot

Cut up chicken and/or sausages you will be using and start searing it in the pan using the olive oil (if you are using just the chicken, season with salt and pepper prior to searing). You don’t have to cook it completely, but you want to give it a nice sear, so it will take you about 10 minutes on the medium to high heat. Put aside.

Slice onions and start sauteing them on medium heat, for about 15 minutes, or until onion becomes soft and translucent. Dice up carrots (I was using tri-color carrots, just for fun) and slice mushrooms, then add to the pan with the onion once it is ready. Continue sauteing on the medium heat for another 10 minutes. Add peas and continue the process for another 5 minutes.  Put aside. Peel and cut the potatoes into the small chunks, add salt, pepper and 1 tbsp olive oil and toss the potatoes well.

Preheat oven to the 350°F. Put the crock pots onto the large oven pan. Put the layer of potatoes on the bottom, then layer of chicken and top it of with the vegetable mix. Of course this is when you can make all those individual adjustments for the ingredients for your picky eaters. Add 1 tbsp of broth (or wine, beer, etc.), put in a bay leaf and 2-3 allspice berries (this is entirely optional). Cover and put into the oven for 1 hour.

And we are done!

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Bon Appétit and cheers!

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