Lately, my awesome hubby–Matt– and I have been in what I refer to as a recipe rut. He has recently started a new career endeavor which requires him to travel…A LOT! So whenever he’s home, I always try to feed him the dishes that make him happy to be home and not eating take out in the hotel.
I felt like I was relying on the “old faithfuls” which coincidentally always seemed to involve chicken. So with the weather peaking in the mid-90’s here in Philadelphia, I have been buying chicken in bulk from Whole Foods and throwing it to slow cook in the crock pot. Not only does it keep our AC bill to a minimum, it also frees up a lot of time for me to study with minimal clean up (and catch up on celebrity gossip–my second favorite pass time!). I am able to throw together a variety of meals quickly! As well as offer a good dose of protein to every meal with minimal effort! So far I LOVE it and have not found it to be redundant like some weeks cooking with chicken.
Here’s the list of ingredients I throw into the crockpot for never fail, tasty chicken:
6 chicken breasts (best deal to purchase the family pack lately at Whole Foods, keep an eye out!)
2-3 bay leaves
3-5 large cloves of fresh garlic –I use my micro planer and grate them right over the chicken, talk about easy and no chopping!
A heaping pinch of red pepper flakes–1/2 tsp or so– and a good sprinkle of cayenne pepper if you’re feeling adventurous:) I usually add about 1/2 tsp of cayenne too.
Generous sprinkle of onion powder–I like to make sure each chicken breast has a copious covering of onion powder
A generous pinch of dried thyme & rosemary–kind of eye ball what looks good to you–be sure to rub the spices between your fingers! it really helps to reawaken the flavor of dried spices. If you’ve found fresh–give a few sprigs or rosemary a rough chop and you can even just throw the fresh time into the crock pot without hassle
A splash of veggie stock or chicken stock–whatever you have on hand really–if not, water will be just fine
Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper–make sure to add a liberal amount of both! Bland chicken is the worst!
I often let it simmer all day–turn it on low in the morning and let it do it’s thing. This stuff really only gets better the longer it simmers. Another quick tip is to mix all the seasonings the night before you decide to cook the chicken and store it in the refrigerator in a ziplock bag–that way in the morning you can just throw it all in the crockpot before you leave for your day and it’s ready to go. If you’re looking to eat a little sooner–you can put the crockpot on high for 3.5-4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Chicken will easily pull apart when it is cooked.
It’s definitely not a science! It’s really just a great base to get any recipe started. Depending on what I’m using it for–for example Mexican, I’ll add more spices to kick it up a bit. If you have some favorite spices to add, by all means do! And let me know what they are…perhaps they will become my new favorite too!
Stay tuned for the recipes to come! I have the chicken simmering away in the crockpot as I type…not only is it setting me up for an easy week of cooking but it also makes our home smell fantastic!