We were gone to a family graduation party all day Saturday. When we got home Saturday night, we discovered our air conditioning was out. It was Memorial Day weekend and while our wonderful HVAC guy made it out to look at the unit, it would have to be replaced. Since every place, including unit manufacturers, was closed until Tuesday, we would be without air.
This got me to thinking about things I could cook that required little cooking or even no cooking. Crock pots are ideal for:
- Keeping your kitchen cool during hot summer days
- Setting and forgetting if you have errands to run or things to do
- Convenience, one-pot cooking and easy cleanup
I’m a big fan of crock pot recipes and chicken provencal is one of my all time favorite recipes. According to Food Reference, Provence is located on the Mediterranean Sea and is in the southeastern part of France. It is known for using olive oil versus butter and plenty of fresh vegetables and herbs.
Some of the other famous dishes from this area of France include bouillabaisse, pistou (a type of pesto), aioli, ratatouille and of course provencal, which is also named after the area.
Although Clifford A. Wright, winner of the James Bard/Kitchen Aid Cooking Book of the Year award, reports that Provencal cooks are extremely “particular” about the ingredients that go into a dish, for the purposes of this dish we are going to keep it as simple as possible.
While I recommend purchasing the most authentic and best ingredients you can afford, I also understand that many of my readers, like myself, are on a budget. Sometimes you simply have to use that generic, dried herb. It will impact the taste a little, but the finished dish will still be so delicious that you’ll barely notice.
- 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts budget tip: buy bag o' chicken in the freezer section
- 1 large can of plum tomatoes typically 28 ounces - yes, they must be plum
- 1 red pepper budget tip: if yellow or orange are on sale, they taste fine in this dish as well
- 1 red onion yes, it needs to be red because they are sweeter
- 2 cloves of grated garlic freshly grated is best and usually cheap, but you can use jarred if you must
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel
- 3 or 4 strips of orange rind budget tip: if you peel off the rind very carefully, you can usually wait until the next day to eat the orange
- 1 crock pot liner you can skip this, but the time it saves in cleanup is worth the small cost
Line your crock pot with a Reynolds liner. This saves so much time on cleanup that it is worth the cost per bag.
Add the chicken to the crock pot. Note that if you are using frozen chicken, it is okay to dump it in there frozen, but it will take longer to cook and you'll want to make sure the crock pot is COLD before starting the timer.
Slice pepper and onion into thin strips and add to the crock pot.
Open and pour can of tomatoes on top.
Add salt, grated garlic, thyme and fennel to crock pot.
Grate in several strips of orange rind.
Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
Note: Cooking times can be tricky as each crock pot is different. If cooking from a thawed state, I find that around 5 hours is perfect with my crock pot. However, if breasts are frozen, it takes 7 or 8 hours. My old crock pot took 7 hours to cook from thawed.
It is also tricky to tell if the chicken is cooked because of the red elements in the stew. I usually choose the largest piece I can find, pull it out and cut it. You can tell if it is done by the texture of the chicken. It should have layers like a croissant. if the center is smooth and shiny, the chicken is not cooked through.
This dish is wonderful with French bread and a salad. You can also utilize leftovers. Simply shred the chicken and serve wrapped in tortillas and topped with sour cream and cheddar cheese. We can usually eat on this dish for several days with our family of four.