Slow Cooker Braised Chicken Thighs

I am a fan of the Dark Side…of the chicken.
When you look at the dark side, careful you must be. For the dark side looks back.

This is a good thing for slow cooker chicken. Slow cookers plus chicken breasts equal dry, stringy meat. But chicken thighs...oh, glorious dark meat, falling off the bone.

Here is a straightforward chicken braise, based on a recipe from Alice Waters. A few aromatics, some tomatoes for sweetness, a little wine to perk it up with acidity. And lots of chicken thighs.

The liquid that comes out of the crock pot is almost as good as the chicken. Serve with baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, rice, noodles, or dinner rolls, and smother them with the chicken juices.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Braised Chicken Thighs


Adapted From: Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food

Cooking time: 6 hours

Equipment:

  • Slow Cooker 6 quart or larger. I love my All-Clad with the stove top safe crock. I can brown the chicken and saute the aromatics in one pot.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds chicken thighs (about 8)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Riesling)
  • 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

Directions

1. Brown the chicken thighs
Sprinkle the chicken thighs evenly with two teaspoons of salt and pepper. In a large fry pan (or a stove top safe slow cooker insert), heat the teaspoon of oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook until the chicken skin is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken to a bowl.

2. Saute the aromatics
Pour out all but a tablespoon of the chicken fat in the pan, then add the onions, carrots, garlic, and tomato paste. Sprinkle with one teaspoon kosher salt, and saute until the onions are softened and lightly browned on the edges, about five minutes. Add the white wine to the pan, bring to a boil, and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the diced tomatoes, rosemary, and thyme. Pour the contents of the pan into the slow cooker, then nestle the chicken thighs into the vegetables.


3. Slow cook the chicken
Cook the chicken on low heat for 6 hours, or high heat for 3 hours.


4. Serve
Scoop the chicken thighs, onions, carrots and tomatoes out of the slow cooker with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a platter. Degrease the liquid in the crock with a gravy strainer, then pour some of it over the chicken, and pass the rest at the table.

Notes

  • No slow cooker? No problem. Instead of pouring everything into the the slow cooker, nestle the chicken pieces in the fry pan, add a cup of water, then move the entire fry pan into a 350*F oven for one hour. (If your fry pan doesn't have an oven safe handle, transfer everything to a dutch oven before moving it into the oven.)
  • Chicken thighs (or legs) are also a good deal. You can usually get them for less than two dollars a pound, even if they are locally grown, organic chicken. Which you should - there's no sense in being penny wise and pound foolish, and saving money on chicken thighs. Get the good ones.
  • Now if only I would listen to my own advice, and not give in to the siren song of $0.69 cent chicken legs at the grocery store.

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

Related Posts:

Slow Cooker Pork Pot Roast
Slow Cooker Chicken Legs with Herb Rub
Slow Cooker Chinese Red Cooked Chicken Thighs

Adapted from:

Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food

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13 comments:

Chris Lukowski said...

When it comes to these kinds of slow cooker dishes that you kick off in a hurry before leaving for work, is there any downside to doing the vegetable prep the night before? How long do I have before onions, celery, garlic, etc dehydrate, brown, or otherwise "go bad" once I cut them up?

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Overnight is fine; I usually have 24 to 48 hours before chopped veggies go bad in the refrigerator.

Just don't leave them in the crock for your crock pot - the transition from refrigerator cold to crock pot hot can crack a ceramic crock, and it takes too long for a refrigerated crock to come up to temperature.

Scott said...

Hi Mike.. I absolutely love your site! I have tried several of your recipes & they have all turned out fantastic! Thank you so much... I just have a quick question regarding this recipe: I generally don't have white wine on hand - is there anything you would recommend instead? I picked up a couple of packs of chx thighs from my butcher yesterday in anticipation of this recipe - I am so looking forward to it! Thanks!

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

First choice: red wine or beer.
Second choice: chicken stock or water.

Chris Lukowski said...

Scott, what I like to do is keep a bottle of dry white vermouth on hand for cooking because it has a decently long "opened" shelf life compared to straight white wine. Noilly Prat is a particularly good brand.

Chris Lukowski said...

Thanks! One more thing. It says the cooking time is 6 hours on low, which means it would be done by 2PM if I kicked it off on my way out the door. I take it the dish holds up well on a few hours of "Keep Warm"?

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

It'll be OK - it's better if you can get to it sooner, but it will survive a couple of hours on "keep warm". I would get it out of the pot as soon as you get home, though.

I get to cheat - my job lets me work from home from time to time, so I make this one on a telecommuting day, at lunchtime.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Chris has a great suggestion here. I do the same thing, though I save the Noilly Prat for martinis, and keep a bottle of of Gallo dry vermouth in the pantry for cooking. (Right next to the cheap port, brandy, and dry sherry).

Scott said...

Thank you both for the suggestion(s)... Excellent idea! I must admit, I don't cook much with wine - but I am always excited to try new techniques... I actually have my thighs in the slow cooker now! (I just went with chicken stock as that is what I had on hand..) I will definitely take note for future reference - thanks again!! :)

Chris Lukowski said...

Mike, can this type of recipe be adapted for a pressure cooker? I just noticed that my MIL took out a package of drumsticks for dinner tonight and didn't have the time or ingredients on hand (I might pit stop at grocery later) to throw it into the slow cooker. PS - If the inspiration hits you, more weeknight PC chicken recipes would be sweet.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Chris, of course it would work in the pressure cooker! Instead of slow cooking on low for 6 hours, pressure cook for 8 minutes on high pressure, then let the pressure come down naturally.

Chris Lukowski said...

Thanks Mike! 8 minutes is pretty specific. Is there a formula or guideline you're using to arrive at that? Could be useful in the future....

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

My formula? Buy a copy of Lorna Sass's Pressure Perfect, and look at the timing chart. :)

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