Thursday, October 25, 2012

Slow Cooked Balsamic Chicken with Swiss Chard and Polenta

I am always looking for a slow cooker recipe that is different from the usual stew or soup recipe. Sometimes you just need an easy recipe to throw together during the week. No fuss, no mess, just let the slow cooker do the work and come back at dinner time.

What I really like about this recipe is that you do not have to brown the chicken ahead of time. There is very little cooking involved for this meal. All you have to prepare is the sauce, which really only consists of sauteing some onions and adding in the rest of the ingredients.

As in most slow cooked meals, the left overs are just as good the next day, if not better. I am already looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch.

I served this with polenta. I have never made it before and I wanted to give it a try. I loved it! It is a great side dish to this meal to soak up all the delicious sauce. My daughter Layla loved the polenta too. She ate her entire serving with no hesitation. I will definitely be making polenta as a side dish more often. A major plus, it's gluten free and it reminds me of pastina, which I am no longer able to eat.

Definitely give this meal a try the next time you feel like making your slow cooker do all the work.

***If you make this dish with bone-in chicken as recommended, be careful of bones while eating. 

Slow Cooked Balsamic Chicken with Swiss Chard and Polenta
Serves 4-6  Adapted from: America's Test Kichen Slow Cooker Revolution

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
5 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp. dried
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 tbsp all-purpose flour (I used all purpose GF flour)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 bay leaves
10-12 (6 oz.) bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed, trimmed (I used bone in-skinless chicken breasts and thighs)
1 bunch (6 oz.) Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves sliced 1/2 in. thick
Garnish with basil leaves and grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

1.  Heat oil in medium size skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5-8 minutes. Add in thyme, tomato paste, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook additional 5-8 minutes until onions are very soft and lightly brown. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute more.

2.  Slowly whisk in vinegar, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps.  Cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.

3.  To the slow cooker, stir in diced tomatoes, broth, wine, and bay leaves.

4.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into sauce in the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

5.  30 minutes before serving, gently stir in Swiss chard leaves, cover, and cook on high until tender, 20-30 minutes.

6.  Transfer chicken to platter and tent loosely with foil.  Let braising liquid settle 5 minutes, then skim fat from surface using large spoon.  Discard bay leaves.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with sauce spooned over each chicken piece.

To make polenta: (Makes 4 servings)
Place 3 cups of water and 1/4 tsp salt or low-sodium chicken broth in a saucepan and bring to boil. Whisking constantly, slowly add in 3/4 cup polenta in an even stream. Continue to whisk until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and pulls away from side of the pan; about 7-10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. (If the mixture becomes too thick, add a little more water or stock to loosen)

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