This recipe falls under the "Sunday Dinner" category. Wait. Is there a such a category?
Scratch that. Don't mind me- make this whenever you want a down-home dinner that is thrown into a pot and forgotten until it's time to eat (which I realize is all the time, but work with me here- you can't eat the same thing every night, can you?). Of course it won't totally be forgotten because the delicious smell fills the house so that you can hardly wait for dinner. But you won't have to think about it.
Uh-oh, you caught me. This is almost a throw-everything-in-the-pot at once dish. You will need to cook a few chopped up pieces of bacon first.
For times like this where you only need three or so pieces of bacon, I pull out my freezer bacon. This is the bacon I precook until about halfway cooked, transfer to a clean cookie sheet and place in the freezer until frozen. Then I pry it off the sheet and store the pieces in a baggie in the freezer until I need just a couple pieces. And voila- I can easily pull a few pieces out of the baggie and finish cooking them. Let me tell you- I love this! It's so easy.
Once the bacon is nice and crisp, remove it from the pan and set it aside for sprinkling on the finished dish. Since the pan is dirty, there's no reason not to saute the onions in the bacon fat that's left. There's not much (since it was precooked), so go for it- it will add more flavor.
Now it's time to start filling the slow cooker. Layer carrots (cut into 1 to 2-inch slices), sauteed onions, green beans (if using frozen, like I was, wait and add them the last hour), and skinned chicken. I always skin the chicken before putting it in the slow cooker because, well, it comes out rubbery and gross. Sorry- it had to be said.
Then lay quartered potatoes on top of the chicken. Mix together chicken broth and some spices and pour over the layers in the cooker. Finally here's the part where you cover the pot and let it cook away.
When using frozen green beans, add them the last hour- making sure the cooker is turn on high if you'd been cooking on low. And do stir at this point so the beans have a chance to cook.
When the chicken and vegetables are done, transfer them to a platter and cover to keep warm. Mix cornstarch (or flour) in cold water until smooth and add to the pan juices in the cooker. Cook on high for about 10 to 15 minutes until thickened. Though to be honest here, it never really thickens up much this way. I probably should put it in a pan on the stove and it would thicken in about 3 minutes, but I don't want the hassle or another pan to wash (hey- bacon is worth it, but gravy...not so much). I just call it "au jus" instead of gravy and we're all satisfied, but if you'd like thicker gravy, you'll probably want to go the extra pan route.
Sprinkle on the reserved bacon, pour some of the gravy/au jus over the chicken and vegetables and pass the rest with the platter. Oh yeah.
Slow Cooker Chicken Dinner
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 to 5 medium carrots, cut into 1 to 2-inch lengths
- 2 c. cut green beans (fresh or frozen)
- 5 to 6 medium potatoes, quartered (small ones can be halved)
- 8 chicken thighs and/or drums (I used 6 bone-in breasts this time)
- 1-1/2 c. chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/4 c. cold water
- 2 Tb. cornstarch (or 1/4 c. flour)
- Cook bacon until crisp. Drain and set aside.
- Saute onion in bacon drippings for 2-3 minutes.
- Layer in slow cooker in order: carrots, sauteed onions, celery, green beans (if using frozen wait and add the last hour of cooking), chicken, and potatoes.
- Mix broth and seasonings and pour over the contents of the cooker, but don't stir.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours (if using frozen beans, stir them in the last hour, turning the cooker to high if it was cooking on low).
- Transfer chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Combine the cold water and cornstarch or flour until smooth and add to the drippings in the cooker, cooking on high for 15 minutes (or transfer all to a small saucepan for a couple minutes for thicker gravy in less time, but one more pan to wash- your choice).
- Sprinkle vegetables and chicken with the reserved bacon, pour some of the gravy over and pass the rest with the platter.
Makes 6 to 8 servings