WEEK EIGHT CHALLENGE: SLOW COOKING

Introduced to the American public as the “Crock Pot” in 1971, slow-cooking has been a staple of modern Americana.  It’s no coincidence that at a time when the American economy was reeling and the women’s liberation movement was in its quick ascendancy, that the popular form of cooking would involve a process that could both tenderize cheaper cuts of more flavorful meat and also facilitate keeping the cooks out of the kitchen for the day.  While the use of the slow-cooker may have waned since the early days of its introduction, the process (whether in a crock pot or in a dutch oven at low temperatures in your hot box) still remains a powerful tool in the kitchen armementarium, especially for those with a lot of of other responsibilities on their plate.   If you’re new to the slow cooking scene, be sure to check out a quick primer from our friends over at BGSK before you go on to vote for your favorite submission of this week: the Coq Au Vin with Dressed Egg Noodles and Braised Leeks or the Green and White Chicken Chili.

Coq Au Vin with Dressed Egg Noodles and Braised Leeks

Coq au Vin is probably one of the most famous of all French chicken dishes, and certainly one of the most delicious, with its rich red wine sauce, its tender onions and mushroom, and its browned pieces of chicken falling off the bone with their wonderful flavor.
Coq Au Vin is a Burgundian dish, and is considered a French comfort food. The traditional recipe for Coq au Vin did not include chicken, but rather a “Coq.” The word “coq” in French means “rooster”, which is a tough bird with lots of connective tissue that would benefit greatly from braising. However most coq au vin recipes call for chicken. It isn’t as simple as a traditional crock-pot, but for best results, use a dutch oven to brown the chicken first.  It is still a one pot meal that is mainly slowly braising away in the oven, resulting in deliciously tender rustic chicken.
Braised Leeks
  • 2 large leeks, tough outer leaves discarded and leeks trimmed to about 7-inches in length
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch pepper
  1. Trim the roots off the end of the leek, leaving enough so that the leek remains attached at the bottom. Cut each leek lengthwise into halves or quarters, as desired. Run leeks under cold running water, using fingers to loosen and remove any dirt or sand from between the leaves.
  2. In a heavy skillet or saute pan that has a tight fitting lid, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks to the skillet with any water that is clinging to the leaves from washing them. Cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the stock and thyme and lower the heat to medium-low. Braise the leeks, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until the leeks are very tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Coq Au Vin
  • 6 slices bacon, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 chicken, about 2 pounds, quartered, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 10 small pearl onions, peeled
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots (1 large shallot)
  • 1/2 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, wiped clean and halved or quartered if large (should match size of onions)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups full-bodied dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Cotes-du-Rhone
  • 1 cups rich chicken stock
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large, heavy Dutch oven over high heat fry the bacon until crisp and all of the fat is rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the crisp bacon bits to paper towels to drain. Reserve.
  3. Season the chicken pieces with the salt and pepper. Brown the chicken pieces in the hot bacon fat, working in batches, if necessary, and turning to ensure even cooking. Transfer the chicken pieces to a large plate or bowl and set aside. Remove some of the bacon fat, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the Dutch oven. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chopped onion, pearl onions, shallots and garlic cloves to the Dutch oven and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until they’ve released most of their liquid and have begun to brown. Add the flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly add the wine and stock, stirring constantly. Add the thyme, bay leaf, half of reserved bacon, and chicken. Bring liquid to a boil. Cover the pot, place in the oven and cook for about 1 3/4 – 2 hours, or until the chicken is very tender.
  5. Transfer the chicken pieces to a serving dish and cover loosely to keep warm. Return pot to medium-low heat. Skim any fat from the surface of the cooking liquid and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until the sauce has thickened slightly and coats the back of a spoon, about 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Return the chicken to the Dutch oven and cook for a few minutes to heat through.
  6. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles according to instructions on package. Heat saute pan on medium heat and add 1 teaspoon  of extra virgin olive oil, one teaspoon butter, and one clove garlic thinly sliced. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute, and add cooked egg noodles and toss to coat.
  7. Serve Coq Au Vin with dressed egg noodles, braised leeks and some of the braising liquid and vegetables as a sauce. Garnish with the chopped parsley and remaining bacon.  Enjoy!
Green and White Chicken Chili
 
A set it and forget it dish at its finest.  This slow cooked chili gets a ton of flavor from a great combination of different types of chilis that cook down and form a thick sauce that envelops the chicken and white beans.  It’s not all that much extra work to brown the chicken before adding it to the slow cooker but it’s a step that adds some great flavor.  The addition of the serranos and jalapenos at the end adds a great spicy kick.
The recipes for the toppings are strictly optional but were specifically designed to compliment the great flavors of this dish.  The crunch of the baked tortilla bits and the crisp coolness of the quick pickled tomatillos add a great texture to the dish and a great comparison to the chili when it is served piping hot right out of the slow cooker.
Green and White Chicken Chili
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1 lb white navy beans
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 Hungarian wax peppers, chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, chopped
  • 2 Anaheim chilis, chopped
  • 8 tomatillos, chopped
  • 2 Serrano peppers, chopped and separated
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped and separated
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • cilantro stems, diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
  1. Salt chicken thighs and brown on stovetop over medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side.
  2. Place chicken skin up in the bottom of the crock pot.  Add beans and chicken stock.
  3. Add onions, garlic, tomatillos and the peppers (only half of the Serranos and jalapenos).  Add cumin, coriander and chili powder.
  4. Set slow cooker on low and cook for 8 hours with the lid on.  Go to work.
  5. Stir.  Remove chicken bones.  Turn heat to high and cook without lid on for another 2 hours.
  6. Thirty minutes before time is up, add remaining serranos, jalapenos, lime juice and the diced cilantro stems.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over rice.  Top with chopped cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, and the (not so optional) toppings.

Baked Tortilla Bits

  •  corn tortillas, cut into 1/3 inch strips
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • pinch of salt
  1. Toss tortilla strips with vegetable oil, garlic powder and salt
  2. Bake under boiler until browned
  3. Cut into squares.

Quick-Pickled Tomatillos

  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp of cumin
  • 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tomatillos, chopped
  1. Bring first six ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. Add tomatillos and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Remove to bowl and put in fridge for at least 45 minutes before serving.
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2 responses

  1. Pingback: I never drink coffee at lunch… | 52 Week Cooking Challenge

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