This summer, I hit the jackpot while garage sale-ing. At two separate garage sales, I found two kitchen appliances I had long been in the market for: a toaster oven and a crock-pot. The total that I paid for the two items was three dollars, so even factoring in the price of gas, that's quite the steal! The toaster oven has seen quite a bit of love and use since it moved in with us, but the crock-pot has been feeling rather forlorn and forgotten.
Until now. I decided that, as the crisp fall weather is quickly cooling into winter, it was time to inaugurate my slow cooker. I wanted to use up some of the bulk package of Costco's Kirkland brand chicken breasts that have been languishing in my freezer, and I thought that the crock-pot would be fun and new way to prepare the chicken. Not only did the slow cooker allow the tastes to really seep into the meat while simultaneously shortening the evening dinner prep, but it also drastically reduced the number of times I had to touch raw chicken with my bare fingers. Bleaachhh.
As you may know (or surmise, at this point!), while I do enjoy eating chicken, I do not like cooking it. My mom drilled the fear of salmonella into me growing up. As a result, it was with great trepidation that I first tried chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (which I now adore, thankfully). If I felt that nervous about cookie dough ice cream, you can imagine with what difficulty I chop uncooked chicken.
But with the crock-pot, I barely had to touch the raw chicken at all! And the one or two times that I did touch it, the chicken breast was frozen, and somehow that seems safer. I know that I must come across as very OCD in this area, but what can I say -- raw chicken grosses me out.
This [fully cooked] crock-pot chicken, however, did not. I found a simple recipe online, whipped up a quick sauce, and in about ten minutes had dinner marinating away before I took my morning shower. When I came home that evening, the apartment smelled amazing, and the chicken tasted just as good. I served it over bulgar wheat, and it made the perfect autumn dinner -- simple, warm, and hearty.
A word of warning, about the marinade. Adapted from this recipe, I tasted the sauce before pouring it over the chicken. It tasted incredibly salty, to the point where I thought that that's night dinner was already a failure. I decided to carry on with the crock-potting, though, and am glad I did because the tastes and saltiness all worked themselves out over the day-long cooking. So if you taste-test the sauce before it cooks, don't be too nervous about the final result! It will come out right in the end.
Crock-Pot Inauguration Chicken
1 chicken breast
1 carrot, thinly sliced
2 T soy sauce
1 T brown sugar
1 T maple syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 of an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
Whisk all the ingredients except for the chicken and carrots in a small bowl. Place the chicken and carrot medallions in a slow cooker. Pour the sauce over the chicken and carrots. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (I cooked mine for ten and the chicken was wonderfully tender).