Friday, October 25, 2013

Sweet Italian Crockpot Chicken

Now that winter is coming around, it is time to bring out the crock pot from storage (or, uh, the laundry room in my case...) and put it to good use!

My crock pot is nothing fancy. It is actually pretty old... but it gets the job done and there is never a meal made from it that I don't love. There is just something about coming home and smelling the aromas of a chicken stew or a bean chili that's been slowly simmering all day long...

A few days ago, I read an article on Yahoo on tips about crock pots. It mentioned how simple ingredients are often left out due to the idea that because of the long cooking time, their flavors will fade away. Quiet the contrary is true, actually!

The longer some basic ingredients and spices cook, the more their flavor develops. Example: tomato paste.

I had a whole chicken just waiting to be cooked in the fridge, so I figured some experimentation couldn't hurt. And boy, let me tell you...
HOLY. COW. I have really been neglecting my taste buds for a while before trying this! After hours in the crock pot, the paste turns sweet and really blooms with flavor. The consistency slightly changes to a more creamy texture as well.

This recipe is TOO easy and delicious to turn down! Just throw it in the pot before work or school and you've got yourself a wonderful main course item to come home to.

Sweet Italian Crockpot Chicken 
Recipe is for a 5 lb chicken 

1 whole chicken, most of the skin removed*
1 small can unsalted tomato paste
2 1/2 cups water
3-4 sprigs fresh basil
2 TBSP dried tarragon
2 TBSP garlic powder
2 TBSP onion flakes
1 TBSP red pepper flakes
1 TBSP chile powder
1 TSP black pepper
pinch of sea salt

 *(I havn't tried it with the skin on yet, but I hate the way it gets soggy in the crockpot usually so I took most of mine off. Yeah yeah, I know, you're probably thinking "What?! It holds the flavor, moisture, ext..." but really, the chicken was very moist and flavorful without it. Plus it helped the paste flavors to seep in!)

1) Once you have deskinned most of the chicken and removed the giblets, stuff the basil in the cavity, under any leftover skin, and under legs and wings.

2) Place the chicken in the crockpot. Coat the chicken well on both sides and inside the cavity with the spices.

3) Coat (as well as you can) on both sides with a thick layer of tomato paste. Sprinkle extra seasonings on top of the paste, if desired.

4) Carefully add the water. Place the lid on and set on LOW for about 8 hours.

And then, come home from a long day and have your food magically waiting for you! Don't be tempted to eat half of it with your hands like I was. (Don't worry, I resisted. But it was a close call.) ;)

How do you use your crockpot? Share some recipes!



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