Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Slowcooker Chicken Cacciatore in the Vitaclay

Chicken Cacciatore is a magical meal. It's hard to screw up, well-balanced, and delicious. I prepared a batch a few weeks ago and was shocked to hear that out of the 4 of us enjoying the dish, I was the only one who had ever eaten it before! I remember my mom preparing this dish when I was young and I made it for my family when my mom started a full-time 9-5 job that came with a commute (I was 12, so if I could do it then, you can do it now!).

You don't need a VitaClay to cook this dish. It can simmer on the stove unattended or cook in your slowcooker all day. Like a good tomato sauce, the longer the flavors have to spend time with each other, the better.

This dish is often served over pasta, but I love it over mashed potatoes and this time, I mashed some celery root with the potatoes for extra flavor and nutrition and left the cheese and milk out to keep this very filling dish from being too heavy. Nobody missed the cheese or milk and I don't think anyone would have been aware of the celery root if I hadn't told them. If you're looking for a dish that gets more veggies into your family's diet, give this one a try!

Ingredients (in order of appearance):
1 package of organic, skinless, boneless chicken thighs (there were 6 in mine. get pastured local chicken if you can)
1/2 cup brown rice flour (optional) seasoned with a dash each of black pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning
2 tb extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
Splash of red or white wine (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp Italian seasoning (or a pinch each of dried marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano, basil, and parsley - if you're missing any one of these, no worries!)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp (or more if you like it spicy) red pepper flakes
1 can or jar (14 oz) crushed roma tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Steps:
1) Bring the chicken to room temp while prepping the rest of the ingredients. 

2) Coat the chicken in the flour (wheat flour is fine, too). Heat 2 tb extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chicken and brown, cooking for about 2 minutes per side. 
Step 2: Brown the Chicken
3) Remove chicken from pot and add the onion, pepper, dried herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the oil. Add another tb of oil if pan is dry. Saute until onions are translucent and peppers soften. Add the garlic and the wine soon thereafter to deglaze the pan. You don't want the garlic to brown. 

Step 3: Saute the peppers and onions
4) In the slow cooker, put half the crushed tomatoes, then the chicken and everything you've sauteed, then the rest of the crushed tomatoes. Add some more salt and pepper to taste, set it, and forget it. 


Step 4: Set it and forget it!

Vitaclay: Stew for 2 hours. It'll be done in 1 and can probably go for the full 4, but 2 worked well. 

Crock-Pot/Slow-Cooker: Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8.

Stove-Top: Simmer for 1 - 3 hours. It's ready when a chicken thigh is no longer pink in the middle but will be better when the chicken falls apart when you try to cut it with a fork. 

Note: If you're pressed for time, you don't need to coat the chicken in flour, brown it, or saute the veggies. You can just dump all the raw ingredients into the slow cooker and be done with it. It won't be AS flavorful, but it will still be absolutely delicious! 

Enjoy over pasta, mashed potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, or your grain or starch of choice.