Not knowing a whole lot about slow-cooking in general, I perused the cookbook options and then added the Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast:Slow Cooker Cookbook to my collection this weekend. The book is inexpensive, and I love how it is organized into three sections: 15 minutes of hands-on prep, 30 minutes of hands-on prep, and "Make More to Store". These options are so working family friendly, and each recipe sounded more delicious than the last (note: this is not the right cookbook choice for vegetarians... there are some great-sounding veggie recipes included, but many, many more meat options). I can definitely handle such a short prep time in the morning, when I tend to have the most energy, and there is something about having a clean kitchen and dinner essentially ready all before noon that makes my Type-A self want to dance a jig. This is truly glorious.
This is how tidy my kitchen was just moments after prepping this beautiful feast. Gleaming slow cooker sits beside the stove bubbling away. Ahhh....
So, for my first recipe, I chose a 30-minute prep option: Cuban Chicken. You break down a whole chicken into 8 pieces, brown it, make a simple pan sauce of garlic and fresh lime and orange juices, cover the whole thing in onions, and walk away. And if you don't have a husband who enjoys butchering things, as I do, you can have your butcher break down the chicken for you, or just buy chicken pieces instead. Five hours later, you have intensely flavored chicken, falling off the bone, and all you have on your hands for clean-up is the inner pot of the slow cooker and your dinner plates. Brilliant.
I mean, come on.
Slow Cooker Cuban Chicken
from the Willams Sonoma Food Made Fast:Slow Cooker Cookbook
Whole Chicken (about 4 pounds)
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup lime juice about 5 limes
1 fresh bay leaf
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1) Brown the chicken.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the chicken pieces in batches if necessary, skin side down and cook until golden brown on the bottom about 7 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook second side until lightly browned about 3 minutes. Transfer all browned chicken to slow cooker.
Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon fat from the frying pan and return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until just barely golden brown. Add garlic to the onions and saute for a couple more minutes until the onions are golden and the garlic is fragrant. Pour in orange and lime juices. Raise the heat to high, bring to a boil, and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the pan bottom. Pour the contents of the pan over the chicken.
Add the bay leaf and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook on high heat setting for 2 1/2 hours or low heat setting for 5 hours. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Transfer the chicken to a serving dish. Season the sauce to taste with salt and generous amount of pepper. Spoon the onions and sauce over the chicken.
It's really that easy. And that delicious.
I've fallen and I've fallen hard.