At last, it's too hot to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. And anyway, who has time to cook when there are gardens to be weeded and beaches to be visited? Slow cooker to the rescue! To be honest, I can hardly remember how I cooked chicken before I bought my first slow cooker for less than $20 at the local discount store. Whether it's whole, in parts on the bone, or boneless, chicken responds so well to low and slow cooking. I hope you'll try some of these amazing slow cooker chicken recipes from food bloggers. And for even more ideas, check out Slow Cooker from Scratch, my go-to source for every imaginable type of slow cooker recipe. I'd tell you more, but the beach is waiting, and I need to get my slow cooker on.
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Cousin Martin came to visit last week, and I made our grandmother's brisket for him. If you've heard that I never met a brisket recipe I didn't love, you heard right, and while I've made brisket the same way my grandmother did for most of my life, lately I've been branching out, too. I've tried sweet, and spicy, Tex-Mex and BBQ and shredded. A bottle of Lebanese pomegranate molasses in the pantry inspired this latest slow cooker recipe, and when I went looking online, I found several versions to use as a starting point. Pomegranate molasses brings a tangy sweet-sour flavor to the meat, and mint leaves added at the end offer an unexpected -- and delightful -- change from the usual heavier seasonings. I use my new favorite technique of cutting the meat into four pieces and browning all of the edges before slow cooking with the remaining ingredients; this has the added advantage of producing pieces that are just the right length for sandwiches. You can cook the brisket in one whole piece, for a finished dish that's a bit less, well... edgy. Look for pomegranate molasses at Middle Eastern markets, or online.
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"That's really, really good," my husband Ted declared as he inhaled his second helping of this beef and rutabaga stew. We're reaching the end of stew season, but this year's crazy New England weather has left snow on the ground where there should be daffodils, and stew on the stove where there should be fiddleheads and ramps and asparagus. No complaints in my house. Ted loves beef stew in all forms, at all times of year, and this version is so very different from the heavy stews I usually make for him. I cheated a bit, and used a bag of frozen, diced rutabaga; it was my first time trying this convenience food, and for a long-cooking dish like stew, it was great. You can swap fresh rutabaga, of course, or white turnips if you like those better. Warm spices, harissa, lemon, and a hit of fresh cilantro infuse this stew with an unusually bright flavor. Substitute gluten-free flour to make this easily gluten-free.
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On a cold day a few weeks ago, my husband Ted and I had pre-theater dinner with our friends Mary and Mike at our favorite across-the-street-from-the-house restaurant. We shared an appetizer-sized portion of short rib chili, just a few heavenly rich and sweet bites for each of us. When I decided to make my own version, I knew I wanted something a bit leaner; after all, some of the amazingness of the chili came from the fatty short ribs. So, instead, I used my stand-by, brisket. Coffee and cocoa give this chili a deep Mexican mole undertone. A hit of fresh lime juice at the very end is an absolute must, and a blob of guacamole on top makes the dish just about perfect. The chili freezes well, so make the full recipe and you'll be all set for weeknight dinners or that upcoming big football game.
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Cross a traditional French coq au vin, chicken with forty cloves of garlic, and old-fashioned chicken stew, and only good things can happen. And then, add more garlic! This recipe sprung from my husband Ted's craving for chicken stew, a half bottle of unspectacular red wine that needed to be used, and my own wish to toss something into the slow cooker that would make the house smell wonderful all day. Please don't be afraid of the amount of garlic in this recipe; it mellows and sweetens with the long cooking, and is essential to the success of the dish. Serve the stew on its own, or over rice or egg noodles, with a bowl of sliced crusty bread for mopping up every last bit of the sauce. Like all stews, it's wonderful on the day you make it, and even more wonderful the following day.
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