Slow Cooker Chicken Legs with Herb Rub


Here is a slow cooker recipe for soccer night. I walk through the door hungry, having used up my patience coaching a pack of nine to eleven year olds. I want dinner now. Now. NOW!

This is the big advantage to slow cooker meals. You can walk through the door, grab a plate, and start spooning hot food into it. All the prep and cooking happened earlier in the day.
*The downside of slow cookers is the food cooking all day. Slow cookers overcook everything; the trick is picking ingredients, like chicken legs, where overcooking is an advantage.
In other words, I've been seduced by the power of the dark side…of the chicken.


Now, this is not quite a "dump and cook" slow cooker recipe. After sprinkling the legs with salt, pepper, and herbes de provence, I take the time to brown them in a fry pan. Trust me, browning the chicken is worth the effort. Ten minutes of searing give the chicken and sauce a richer taste.
*And, really, come on now, browning chicken isn't that much effort.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Legs with Herb Rub

Cook time: 6 hours

Equipment:
  • Slow Cooker, 6 quarts or larger (I love my All-Clad, but a Crock-Pot or any other brand will do.)

Ingredients:
  • 8 chicken legs
  • 4 teaspoons Kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon per 2 legs)
  • 2 teaspoons herbes de provence (or Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning, or your favorite spice blend)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:
1. Spice and brown the chicken legs: Sprinkle the chicken legs evenly with the salt, herbes de provence, and pepper. Heat a 12 inch fry pan over medium-high heat, then brown the skin on the chicken legs in two batches. Put four of the legs in the pan, skin side down, and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Move the browned legs to the slow cooker, then repeat with the remaining four legs. Pour the chicken fat out of the pan, return the pan to the stove, and add the 1/2 cup of water to the pan. Bring the water to a simmer, stirring and scraping any browned bits on the bottom of the pan into the liquid. Once the browned bits have loosened into the water, pour the water over the legs in the slow cooker.


2. Slow cook the chicken legs: Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook the chicken legs on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours. Serve, passing the liquid in the crock pot on the side as a sauce.


Notes:
*I served this with flour tortillas and a quick sliced cabbage slaw salad.

*Two pan browning: My slow cooker comes with a stove-top safe insert, so I use it and a fry pan to brown both batches of chicken legs at the same time.

*If you're really in a hurry, skip the browning step. Put the spiced legs directly into the slow cooker. But, as I said in the opening, the extra ten minutes really adds to the flavor.

*If you have a fat separator, use it to separate the fat from the cooking liquid before passing it at the table.
Passing the taste test

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Slow Cooker Turkey Thighs with Mustard and Onions
Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut
Click here for my other slow cooker recipes.

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16 comments:

Mike said...

Mike:

This recipe looks terrific and I hope to try it soon. I have a question on your choice of brands. I currently own the Kitchenaid 6.5 quart slow cooker. It seems to run very hot on the low setting......food actually boils. I am looking to replace it as a result. Are you experiencing this with yours? Have you written a comparison on your blog as I have not found one?

I am considering the Calphalon, All Clad and the Crock Pot eLume models (which Cooks Illustrated pick as Highly Recommended).

Thank you.

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Mike:

I use, and love, the Deluxe All Clad slow cooker with the stovetop-safe aluminum insert.
(This one:
http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/all-clad-deluxe-slow-cooker-with-aluminum-insert/)
If you have $250 for a slow cooker, in which case the deluxe is definitely worth it. Taking the crock from the stovetop to the slow cooker is a really handy feature, and the digital cooking timer is very handy.

The downside is the $250 price. That's a lot of money to spend on a slow cooker.

I also have one of All-Clad's "regular" slow cookers - the $180 version - which I got at the factory sale for about $130. I like it, and I think that's the one I would recommend. (Other than the Cooks Illustrated recommended model...but see below...)

I owned a cheap ($30?) Hamilton Beach for years...it worked great, until the flimsy handle on the side snapped off.

This new Hamilton Beach seems to have the advantage of a stovetop safe crock with a much lower price, but I haven't had a chance to try it:
Hamilton Beach Premiere

Other slow cooker brands haven't worked for me.

I had a Kitchenaid...until the crock cracked for the third time. Gave up on it after that.

I had low-end Crock Pot years ago, and had even worse luck with cracking the crocks. They kept having spider web cracks and leaking. I was trying to be careful with them, but they kept breaking.

Normally I trust Cooks Illustrated's reviews, and the picture of a wall covered with the Crock Pot eLumes in their Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook is impressive. If they used that many of them, they can't be that bad...but I'm still wary of the quality of the Crock Pot crocks.

Sorry for the rambling answer. I hope this helps.

jokesBYjen said...

This is my go-to "holy crap, I have to leave for work in 5 minutes and have no clue what we're serving for dinner tonight."   Dump the chicken in (I use splits and drums for the white-meat-eater (DH) and the dark meat eater (me), sprinkle with poultry seasoning and a teeny bit of water, and done.  I like to reduce and brown the "juices" on the stovetop and make a faux roast-chicken gravy.     One other step--- I toss the meat on a cookie sheet and broil briefly to crisp up the skin--- I HATE soggy gooey skin!    [PS:  I know you're not supposed to, blah blah blah, but I have tossed the splits in FROZEN and cooked for 10 hours on low with similar results!)

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Thanks, Jen!

I think you're OK with frozen chicken parts, as long as they make it to 165*F...but the USDA strongly disagrees, saying food should be thawed before putting it in the cooker.

So...use your own judgement?

niferzilla said...

Wow you saved my bacon with this recipe! I did make a few alterations, as home cooks do….12 drumsticks were used, and instead of deglazing the pan and pouring it on my drumsticks, I used 1/2 a package of swiss chalet dipping sauce mix and 1 cup of water. it made a yummy light "gravy". If you can't find the Swiss Chalet Dipping Sauce mix in the US ( I'm in Canada ), then you can likely use any envelope of gravy that strikes your fancy.

niferzilla said...

Oh I served it up with steamed black rice and red n' green peppers/black bean stir-fry.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

You're welcome. I love the idea of pepper and black bean stir fry as a side dish - I'll have to try that one myself.

Jessica said...

Hi! This was a hit at our house - I used an all-natural lemonade as my deglazer and it was super yummy! Thanks for an easy, quick, and delicious recipe. I'll be using this one again!

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

You're welcome, and thanks for sharing the lemonade deglaze idea. It sounds delicious...

Stay at home mom said...

Attempting these in the crock pot right now! I guess I had my pan too hot when I browned the chicken so my spices burned to the pan. I was afraid to deglaze the pan and poor it over the chicken thinking it may have a burnt taste. I puored a little chicken broth over the chicken instead.

Carey said...

I'm new to cooking and especially the slow cooker.... I have no idea but I feel like that's not enough water (liquid). Won't the chicken be dry with only a 1/2 cup of water?

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Nope, it is juicy and delicious. That's just enough water to create steam, (and the chicken releases its own juices and fat into the pot.)

...because these are pieces of dark meat. White meat would be dry and tasteless if you cooked it this long, no matter how much water is in the pot.

Carey said...

oh ok. Thanks. I really enjoy your recipes.

Jackie Lynch O'Connell said...

This was fantastic! Thank you! I have to check out all of your other recipes now!

Tonya said...

I LOVE this recipe! I have made this several times and it always comes out perfect. One night I made this and our son got sick and had a fever that spiked to 105 (!!!!!) and we flew out of the house to the emergency room...needless to say after seeing that temp come up on the thermometer the last thing on my mind was the chicken. It wasn't until we had been at the hospital for about 2 hours that I finally remembered it and just assumed that by the time we got back to the house the meat would be dried out and not worth eating. I made up my mind at that point that we'd just run through a drive-thru if there were any still open when we finally got out of there, of course there were none open when we left so we went to the drug store for prescriptions and then came home to eat what i was sure was going to be a ruined meal. I was shocked when I took them out of the crock pot and the chicken fell off the bone...and even more shocked when i tasted it and it was still moist and juicy. I think those poor chicken legs were in that crock pot for about 13 hours! This is one that i have passed on to family and friends and everyone loves it...Thanks Mike! Keep doing what you're doing, I look forward to trying all of your recipes.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Thank you! Chicken legs are remarkably durable - While I'm sure they can be overcooked, I've never managed to do it.

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