A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mealtime Musings: My Most Favourite Slow Cooker Recipe EVAH

Well... at least until I find another one that's just as good or BETTAH.

Prior to purchasing Year Round Recipes for Crockpots and Slowcookers by Simon and Alison Holst, my use of the slow cooker was fairly simple -- pot roast, beef stews and Chinese soups. It was all good and I was almost always happy with the results. However, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, it was a very limited vision of what the slow cooker was capable of. As I'm an avid food experimenter... I like trying new things and after taking a quick glance at the pretty pictures, I was pretty intrigued by this one:

Bacon-Wrapped Fruited Chicken Roll

This dish, according to the authors, "require some dexterity and cooking experience". It does... but if I can do it, anybody can. They suggest you do a trial run first before you attempt to serve it at a dinner party, for instance... which I did and it helped me to work out how much time I needed to prepare the dish. I've now attempted it four times and can't be considered an expert by any stretch of the imagination especially with widening the thigh pieces and the placement of the dried fruit. Nonetheless, the end result is quite impressive. Although I did blunder the bacon wrapping the first time, it didn't seem to affect the taste of the final product. 
The best thing about this dish is that it sits in the slow cooker for 3 hours on HIGH and you don't have to worry about it for 3 hours and can give your attention to something else.

For 4-8 Servings

2 tsp canola or other oil
1 medium onion
1/4 - 1/2 cup dried cranberries (sometimes called craisins)
about 1/2 cup white wine
4-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 100-125g each
8-16 dried apricots
8-16 prunes
salt and pepper
4-8 streaky bacon
[Don't forget to buy some bamboo skewers if you don't already have some]

Turn a medium or large slow cooker to LOW and coat with non-stick spray

Heat the oil in a non-stick frypan with a lid. peel the onion, then halve it, from top to bottom, before placing it flat-side down and cutting it into 1 cm squares. Lightly brown the onion in the pan, stirring often, covering between times, then transfer them to the slow cooker. Add the cranberries and the wine.
Working with one boneless chicken thigh at a time, place it so the uncut side of the thigh side is on the cutting board. Open the cavity where the bone was removed adn make a number of small cuts part way through the flesh, parallel to where the thigh bone was, taking care not to cut right through. When finished, the thigh should lie flat and look much wider.

Cut two prunes and two apricots almost in half lengthwise, and then open them out so the uncut part forms a hinge. Arrange the fruit lengthwise on a chicken thigh, season lightly, then roll up from one side to the other enclosing the fruit.

Wrap a bacon strip round the rolled thigh, both crosswise and lengthwise, as if it was string round a parcel, securing it with a bamboo skewer pushed right through the package and out the otherside. Cut or break off the half with the sharp point, and push it through the chicken at right angles to the other half of the skewer. Do not break off the ends. Brown the bacon-wrapped chicken package on all sides, pushing the skewers backwards and forwards so they are not in the way, but do not remove them.

Repeat, using the remaining ingredients, to make the rest of the packages. As each is browned, put it in the slow cooker, on top of the onion mixture, leaving the skewers in place. (I've also been known to grill the parcels after cooking it in the slow cooker)

Cover and cook for 5-6 hours on LOW or about 3 hours on HIGH, until the chicken feels tender when tested, then remove the skewers. Thicken the sauce with a little cornflour paste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Slice each parcel crosswise into 4 slices [don't worry if you have to do 3] and overlap them, best side up, on a puddle of sauce when serving. (For best results, use a sharp serrated knife.)


Taken from: Year-round Recipes for Crockpots and Slow Cookers, Simon and Alison Holst, Hyndman Publishing.

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