PHOTO TUTORIAL | PRINTABLE RECIPE | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
Fear Conquered: Slow-Cooker Meals
Remember my post dedicated to all the virtues of slow cookers from a couple weeks ago? Or the Barilla Plus pasta I raved about for my Eggplant Blush Pasta with Roasted Shrimp? Well today my love for my slow cooker meets my love for pasta in this meal-in-one dish.
The genius of cooking with the slow cooker means the meal cooks itself while you're busy at working finishing the presentation for your boss, running the kids to soccer and ballet, visiting your mother-in-law at the retirement home, vacuuming up all the cat hair and tutoring your 12-year-old on those algebra factorial problems. You just prep the ingredients, add them to the slow cooker and then walk away for 6-7 hours. When you're finally ready, dinner will be hot and waiting.
And it's a true meal-in-one dish: braised chicken, vegetables, potatoes and fortified pasta. The chicken is deliciously moist, the vegetables and potatoes are soft and tender and the pasta has absorbed all the wonderful cooking flavors from the chicken and herbs. It's easy enough to throw together for a school-night and beautiful enough to serve to the in-laws.
This recipe makes a LOT of food (plenty for at least 6 people) and thanks to the fortified Barilla Plus pasta, even a single serving is quite filling. Adding pasta to braised chicken and vegetables is a bit unorthodox, but when using the farfalle bow-tie shaped pasta, they almost remind me of little dumplings mixed among the vegetables. But unlike traditional flour dumplings (or traditional pasta), Barilla Plus pasta packs in extra nutrition with more fiber, protein and Omega-3 fatty acids from a variety of grains including spelt, oats, barley, flaxseed and legumes. Besides the added nutrition, I also love the beautiful shape of the farfalle on the plate…
A few things to note about this recipe:
- You will need a slow cooker with at least a 5-quart capacity. If you own a smaller capacity slow cooker, you will need to adjust the recipe accordingly (just add less of everything, including liquid, seasonings and herbs).
- It's important to add the ingredients to the slow cooker in the order described by the recipe. I've made this recipe a number of different ways and I find this method produces the best results in terms of flavor, texture and presentation.
- The pasta does NOT need to be submerged in liquid. In fact, it probably will not even touch liquid during the 6-7 hour cook time. That's ok - by remaining above the liquid, the pasta will slowly be cooked by the steam within the slow cooker without becoming soggy and bloated.
- I strongly recommend using bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces such as thighs and drumsticks for this recipe as the bone and skin helps to keep the chicken moist during the long cook time. Searing the chicken before adding it to the slow cooker helps to develop the flavor, reduces the slow cooking time and provides a more appetizing finished dish.
- I strongly recommend using baby red potatoes rather than baby gold potatoes. I've used both for this recipe (sometimes even a mix) and the red potatoes simply have more flavor and are less starchy than the gold potatoes. If you cannot find baby red potatoes, buy regular red potatoes and chunk into pieces.
About Barilla PLUS Pasta:
I rarely endorse or even participate in sponsorships for specific brands or products because I do not want money, gifts or other perks to influence my perspective or blogging style (nor do I want to be a mouthpiece for a company or brand). However, I had already expressed how big a fan I am of Barilla Plus pasta in my Eggplant Blush Pasta with Roasted Shrimp post. So when Barilla contacted me after reading the post and invited me to participate in a recipe challenge using their pasta, I was excited to participate and once again share my love for this pasta. Barilla generously provided 4 boxes of Barilla Plus pasta and a $100 Visa gift card (for recipe supplies, props, etc) in exchange for participating in the recipe challenge. Barilla's generosity has in no way influenced my opinions or my decision to recommend Barilla Plus pasta for this recipe.
For chances to win fun prizes and trips from Barilla, check out the new Capture the Pasta app for iPhone and Android. There are over 1,000 instant prizes, an Italian-inspired trip in the USA and even a Grand Prize of a trip to Italy, so check it out.
Barilla PLUS Pasta Giveaway Details:
This giveaway has ended.
Thanks so much to everyone who entered the giveaway and congratulations to Erin O'Malley and MJ from MJ's Kitchen! You both have won 2 boxes of Barilla PLUS Farfalle pasta. In order to claim your prize, please email me your name and U.S. mailing address. (I will also respond to your comment to prompt a response from you, but it is your responsibility to check this post to determine the winner.) Please provide your address by Friday, October 19, 2012.
Thanks to Barilla's generosity, I am also hosting a giveaway of Barilla PLUS pasta to help spread the love for this wonderful fortified pasta. Two (2) lucky winners of this giveaway will receive 2 boxes of Barilla PLUS Farfalle pasta. To be eligible for a chance to win this giveaway:
- You must have a mailing address within the continental United States
- Leave me a comment on this post (by Friday 10/12/2012, 11:59 PM EST) describing (or linking to) a recipe or dish you plan to make using Barilla PLUS Farfalle pasta
STORY | PRINTABLE RECIPE | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
|Add the baby potatoes to the insert of a slow-cooker.|
|Slice the carrots on a bias and add to the slow-cooker.|
|Smash the garlic cloves and add to the slow-cooker.|
|Chop the parsley and add to the slow-cooker.|
|Add the fresh thyme leaves and thyme sprigs to the slow-cooker.|
|Chop the fresh sage leaves and add to the slow-cooker.|
|Add 2 dried bay leaves to the slow-cooker.|
|Sprinkle salt and pepper over all the ingredients in the slow-cooker.|
|Spread the dry uncooked pasta in an even layer over the vegetables.|
|Pour the chicken stock over the ingredients in the slow-cooker.|
|Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.|
|Pat the chicken pieces dry and season with salt and pepper.|
|Add the chicken thighs to the hot pan, skin-side down.|
|After 5 minutes, turn the chicken thighs and sear for another 5 minutes.|
|Transfer the thighs to the slow-cooker.|
|Repeat the searing process with the drumsticks.|
|Transfer the drumsticks to the slow-cooker.|
|Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of white wine.|
|Scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the wine over the chicken pieces in the slow-cooker.|
|Add the frozen pearl onions over the chicken.|
|Cover the slow-cooker.|
|Cook on the LOW setting for 6-7 hours.|
|Serve when the chicken is cooked through.|
STORY | PHOTO TUTORIAL | HUNGRY FOR TIPS?
Slow Braised Chicken and Vegetables with Farfalle Pasta
Prep Time: 45 min
Cook Time: 6 hrs 30 min
Ingredients (serves 8)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken drum sticks
- 5 medium carrots, thickly sliced on a bias
- 14 ounces baby red potatoes, rinsed
- 8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 6 large sage leaves, thinly sliced (about 2 Tablespoons)
- 2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning chicken
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper, plus extra for seasoning chicken
- 4 cups dry farfalle pasta (such as Barilla Plus)
- 3 cups homemade chicken stock
- 1 cup white wine
- 10 ounces frozen pearl onions
- Combine the potatoes, carrots and garlic in a slow-cooker insert, then add the thyme, sage, parsley, bay leaves, salt and pepper; spread the dry pasta in an even layer over the vegetables, then pour the chicken stock over everything
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat; pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels, then generously season one side of chicken with salt and pepper.
- Place the seasoned chicken thighs skin-side down in the hot pan and sear for 5-7 minutes until the skin is golden and crisp; turn over the chicken thighs and sear for another 2-3 minutes, then transfer the chicken thighs to the slow-cooker; repeat the searing steps for the drum sticks and transfer to the slow-cooker
- Drain the chicken drippings in pan over the seared chicken, then deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up the seared bits; pour the wine from the pan over the chicken pieces
- Add the frozen onions over top of the chicken, then cover the slow-cooker and cook for 6-7 hours on LOW (avoid lifting the lid) until the chicken is fully cooked
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STORY | PHOTO TUTORIAL | PRINTABLE RECIPE
Hungry for Tips?
- Salt: I know 1+ Tablespoons of salt sounds like a LOT of salt, but keep in mind that carrots, potatoes and pasta all require and absorb a lot of salt while cooking. And for best flavor, salt should be added early in the cooking process rather than waiting until after everything is already cooked. Depending the level of saltiness of your chicken stock, you may need more or less salt.
- Caution: Be careful when searing your chicken pieces - you need to keep the pan hot in order to crisp the skin but fat WILL splash out of the pan, sometimes violently. So be careful not to burn yourself and use tongs to turn the chicken.
- Room Temperature: Bring the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before adding it to the hot sauté pan. This allows the chicken to warm slightly and helps to reduce splashing when adding the chicken to the pan.
- Homemade: I strongly urge you to use homemade chicken stock - I always keep at least a few quarts in my freezer so it's ready when I need it. Homemade stock has the best flavor and you control the spices, salt and other ingredients. Check out my homemade chicken stock for a recipe and tips.
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