There are a lot of awesome things about being married. You get sweet tax breaks, you get to tap your wedding ring loudly on stuff when obnoxious dudes are hitting on you- I mean, there are plenty of perks. Not to mention all the love, and togetherness and blah blah blah- but seriously. When I got married almost 3 years ago, I was 21, living in a sparsely furnished apartment and cooking on some old, totally beat-up frying pans I'd stolen from an Italian place I used to wash dishes at. Then, following the magic of the BRIDAL REGISTRY- we suddenly had a kitchen full of amazing gadgets. For 2 foodies, being newlyweds was like Christmas! We ended up scoring a heavy-duty set of stainless pots & pans, a nice Henckel knife set, good wooden cutting boards, wine glasses, and a nice big crock pot. I had a small crock pot before that I had never, ever used, but we got rid of it when we cleaned up the place one time and I never thought about it until I got the new one. At the time, I was vegetarian and hubby was vegan, and we weren't big soup eaters. I never considered using it for anything but soup until after I started eating meat* and my mom said something about "throwing some chicken in the crock pot for dinner."
What?! You can just PUT CHICKEN IN A CROCK POT? I guess it's kind of a no-brainer, but seriously, I just thought they were for soup. You can put whole cuts of meat in a crock pot and let them slow cook, and believe it or not, it's pretty amazing. We've made pulled pork, slow-roasted chicken, hearty beef stews- whatever. And the best part is the total lack of maintenance.
I promised myself I'd lay off the raw chicken photos, as I've been made aware that they are totally unappetizing. Whatever! The other day, my husband showed me how to break down a chicken and I'm still totally pumped about it. I sliced off the drumsticks, thighs, breasts, and wings. I used the carcass for stock (again. we made it into risotto. mmm.), froze most of it, and saved the thighs and drumsticks for today's meal. I knew my husband was going out of town, so I invited an old buddy of mine over for dinner. This is the absolute easiest chicken dish on the planet, and the flavors are so rich and inviting, it makes you feel like a badass even though it takes less effort than Easy Mac.
Usually we'd just buy a package of bone-in chicken thighs- or you can buy a whole chicken and use the thighs and drumsticks, saving everything else for other stuff. Bone-in is important for crock pot recipes, the bones keep the meat from drying out.
I am going to admit something slightly embarrassing. I got this recipe from my mom's South Beach cook book. I know, I know. But come on, the classic trifecta of poultry, rosemary, and garlic is just as ubiquitous as tomato, basil, and garlic- right? It's not a hard recipe.
According to the original recipe:
2 lbs (or whatever- I do 1 or 1.5ish) chicken thighs. (I say, BONE-IN!)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp white wine
1 tbsp dried rosemary, smashed between your fingers
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp water
8 cloves of smashed/rough chopped garlic
Place thighs in the bottom of a crock pot. Drizzle with olive oil and white wine, season with salt, pepper, & rosemary. Add rough-chopped garlic. Cook on low for 6 hours.
I served this on a bed of brown rice, with some steamed broccoli. I wasn't feeling very creative with my sides tonight, but there are plenty of amazing side dishes you could make for this.
Before eating, I pulled out all the bones (the meat just slides right off) and saved for a batch of 'roasted chicken' stock. I wanted to see how different it would be! For one thing, I included mushrooms- and for another, I think I let it go too long! I ended up with more like a demi-glace and less like a broth. That's cool though! I can add it to lots of stuff. It turned a rich, dark brown- but I'm not sure if it's from the bones or from the mushrooms. Oh well!
*A lot of readers asked me to elaborate on why I chose to go back to meat after being vegetarian for most of my adult life. If you're really interested, drop me a line. I'm happy to talk about it, but I don't want to turn my awesome food blog into a weirdo debate about food. I still eat mostly vegetarian and I think that I have a more vegetarian-oriented point of view than most "average American" meat eaters. That said, I respect all points of view and I don't want to berate anyone for their choices. Eat well, homies!