It’s no secret that I’m smitten with my slow cooker. Yet, even I will admit that the recipes I’ve tried so far have been slightly lackluster. When thinking about everyday meals, especially meals that I can plan ahead, speed trumps complexity of flavor. Both would be great, but I’m willing to flex. So far, I’ve had to. This beef ragu was delicious, but even it lacked a certain zing.
So, I set out to find recipes with more flavor. Specifically, one with a longer list of spices. Unsurprisingly, most crockpot recipes are designed to be quick and easy, and are pretty simple, which all too often equates to bland. When I landed on Crockpot Italian Chicken and Broccoli Rabe Chili from Half Baked Harvest, I had a feeling I was onto something.
Now, I’m going to be up front with a personal downside…all the spices. Ha! Confusing, right?! Well, because I don’t cook often, and I tend to stick with the same recipes when I do, our spice cabinet had needed a little sprucing up. That’s not cheap! But, if I can stay motivated to keep cooking, it will end up paying off. It just feels a little crazy right now…
That said, once the fragrance of this aromatic stew began wafting around the house, it was already worth every penny. So mouthwatering! I guess that’s not surprising when you start with a pyramid of herbs…
Allspice, bay leaves, chili flakes, chili powder, oregano, smoked paprika, and thyme…plus, salt and pepper, of course. This, added to rich broth, sweet tomatoes, and tart balsamic, definitely creates a complexity of flavor.
All but three ingredients stew for 6-8 hours on low, or 4-6 hours on high. From my research, and it makes sense, chicken breasts are prone to drying out and becoming rubbery when overcooked in the crockpot. So, I opted for lowest and slowest. At the 6 hour point, I prepped the remaining ingredients. (And, tried to make it look like Oscar was sitting on that bean can. Heh heh…)
Now, the recipe called for broccoli rabe. These greens are what I found under that label at the store…but I’m pretty sure that’s kale. No matter. I like kale in a stew because it’s breaks down but doesn’t become overly mushy. I chopped 4 cups, sliced the peppers, and rinsed the beans. Before tossing them in, I removed the chicken pieces to shred. If you recall, I regretted shredding the beef roast in the crockpot because it was hard to make sure I had shredded everything.
I was slightly concerned at first. The chicken pieces were falling apart as I pulled them out of the pot, but they looked kind of dry.
The best judge of something that smells AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS arrived immediately.
He was not wrong. The meat shredded easily and was super moist and tasty.
After pulling the chicken out of the pot, I tossed in the cannellini beans, red peppers, and kale to let them warm up a bit and absorb some liquid without competing with the meat.
Then, I popped the shredded chicken back in, gave it a stir, and let it finish out the last 15 minutes of cooking time before resting on warm for another half hour or so.
Pinch of Yum recommends eating this with a generous sprinkle of parmesan and hearty chunk of bread – or, serve it over polenta or pasta for a heartier meal. Those all sound like terrific options, but I also think this recipe is quite capable of standing on its own. (Seemed to work out when I took a spoon directly to the crockpot, anyway. Shh…)
I’m pretty sure I won’t have to worry about making the most of all of those spices. This one’s earned an instant spot on the regular rotation. Definitely my favorite crockpot recipe thus far!