Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

The hubby and I have been trying to eat healthier, especially during the week, and using the slow cooker can be a great way to make tasty, low-fat meals. Because of the low and slow cooking method, you don’t typically have to add extra fat, like oil or butter, as you might with stovetop cooking.

This is one such recipe, and it’s also very easy and versatile. It takes about five minutes to toss together in the morning, and you can throw in almost anything you like – extra chicken, onions, peppers, etc. The chicken gets so tender that it just shreds apart in the sauce. I like meat that shreds.

You can use either thawed or frozen chicken breasts for this recipe (or thighs, if dark meat is your thing). I typically thaw mine if it looks like I need to trim them; chicken fat is just nasty. You can also uses canned mushrooms instead of fresh, but I vastly prefer fresh. There’s something about “mushroom stems and pieces” that makes canned mushrooms seem like the hot dogs of the canned vegetable world. Not that I have a thing in the world against hot dogs.

As I mentioned, you can add extra veggies, or you can leave the veggies out entirely (including the mushrooms) to make this extremely kid-friendly. Give it a less scary name, like Chicken Spaghetti, and the kids will gobble it up. Or maybe Chicken Pasketti, as my cousin Mindy used to pronounce it. I love little kid pronunciations. “Spaghetti” seems to be a tough one for kids. So does “hamburger.” Mindy’s version was “hangurber”; my brother’s was “fungurger.” Why do I remember these things?

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
Serves 3-4

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken
Salt and pepper
4 (or more) oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 8-oz. can Italian-style tomato paste, or 1 can tomato paste plus 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning 1 14.5.-oz can chicken broth
½ c. white wine
1 dried bay leaf
½ tsp. dried sage
¼ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
12 oz. spaghetti

1. In a slow cooker, add chicken, and top with remaining ingredients. Stir slightly to combine tomato paste with liquid.

Doesn't look like much here, I know.

2. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Roughly chop chicken into bite-sized pieces, and remove bay leaf.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions.

4. Serve sauce over pasta.

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