Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Over Polenta

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I realize that if I emphatically tell you to make everything because of how fabulous it is that I will begin to sound like a certain boy who cried wolf, but this one really is worth a try.  For those of you who like flavor, wonderful results despite simplicity, and slow cookers, this is a home run. 

I found it on kraftfoods.com and I might have been introduced to it through e-mail or just a search.  Surprisingly, this was not a Pinterest find, though I did pin it to my food board for later such experimentation. 

The recipe is easy, nutritious, and, because the slow-cooker does at least 90% of the work, pretty time efficient.  Most importantly, it'll make your eyes roll back in your head and you may just lick your lips after a bite.  Some of you might illicit an "mmmmm."  I made changes to the original recipe, so I'll post the link to the original but write it as I made it.  I didn't deviate too far.

One of the biggest changes I made was to serve the cacciatore over creamy polenta instead of rice.  I am not crazy about rice, so I recommend the polenta or even mashed potatoes or egg noodles in place of rice.  Your choice- just make whatever "base" absorbent!

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
inspired by this recipe from Kraft Foods

feeds 6-8

3-4 Tb olive or vegetable oil
3 lb chicken leg quarters or mixed pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken legs and thighs
8 oz small mushrooms, sliced
1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced
3 bell peppers, your choice of colors, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
15 oz can crushed tomatoes
4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and Pepper
4 cups polenta, rice, or mashed potatoes (polenta recipe to follow)

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Drizzle 1-2 Tb. oil in pan.  Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.  Working in batches, brown chicken on all sides. 

In bottom of slow cooker, place all vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place chicken on top of vegetables and top with the tomatoes and thyme/other herbs. 

Cook in slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.  Serve over polenta, mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles. 

feeds 2 (ratios will be included to feed more people)

1/2 cup dry polenta
2 cups total liquid- recommended 1 cup milk, 1 cup water.   (4:1 ration liquid to polenta)
Pinch salt
Pat butter
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese

Bring liquid to a boil in a small pot over high heat.  Add pinch of salt and stir.  Slowly stir in polenta and stir until thickened, about 60 seconds.  Turn down heat and allow mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15-20 minutes until polenta is thickened and desired consistency.  Add pat of butter and 1/4 cup parmesan or parmigiano reggiano cheese.

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