When you know you have too much going on in the evening, the slow cooker is your friend. I’ve been having good luck lately with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, so I went that route for my most recent slow cooker meals. The bone-in chicken thighs seem to hold up better in the slow cooker than regular chicken breasts or boneless chicken thighs (unless your goal is shredded chicken, of course). I will say that when dinner is served, I always take the skin off of the chicken to make things a little healthier.
For my first meal, I started with a recipe from 2016 on the delish.com website, and made some modifications. The printable of my version of the recipe is at the bottom of this post (Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Red Potatoes). I purchased a 5 lb pack of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, and split the pack in half, freezing half of the chicken. We simply don’t eat more than 4-5 large chicken thighs at a time as a family. With the remaining 2.5 pounds of chicken, I seasoned them with cracked black pepper, and then added them to a large frying pan over medium-high heat. I seared the chicken thighs for a few minutes on each side, until they were nice and golden brown.
While my chicken was searing, I added to the slow cooker bowl: 1.5 pounds of small red potatoes, a small amount of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of my favorite yogurt/vegetable oil “butter” spread (Brummel & Brown – I never use real butter unless it is Thanksgiving, basically), 8 cloves of garlic (some were small), and fresh thyme and fresh parsley.
For the garlic cloves, my favorite method for peeling garlic is the smashing method – placing the flat side of a large knife on top of the garlic, and hitting the flat side of the knife with the palm of your hand, smashing the garlic flat. The skin peels off easily this way.
For the amounts of thyme and parsley, I used more thyme than parsley simply because I have more thyme in my garden. I just eyeballed the seasonings, making sure not to skimp since I really wanted the herb flavor to come through after cooking.
I mixed everything together with the potatoes, and it already looked pretty delicious on its own.
I nestled my seared chicken into the slow cooker and added 1/4 cup of chicken broth for a little liquid. I set my slow cooker for 8 hours on low.
Just a note, the original recipe called for more oil, and to add salt. I used as little oil as I felt I could, and did not add any salt. I used low-sodium chicken broth, which added salt already to the dish. In the end, the finished dish tasted yummy without the additional fat and sodium. As always, if anyone at the dinner table disagrees, they can easily use the salt shaker to add salt to their own portion. The finished meal, with a little corn on the side to brighten things up:
My second slow cooker meal using the other half of the chicken thigh pack (the remaining 2.5 pounds) was a little more stew-like. The printable recipe, Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms, is at the bottom of this post. Just as in the previous recipe, I browned the chicken thighs over medium-high heat for a few minutes per side. This time, I added some dry chicken seasoning to the raw chicken first (I used Mrs. Dash chicken seasoning, Grill Mates or another brand would work, checking to make sure it was gluten-free first). When the chicken was finished browning, I added it to my slow cooker bowl.
Next, I sliced two small shallots and added them to the same pan (after removing the chicken), and a large pack of sliced white mushrooms (rinsed first). Because the chicken was in the pan previously, everything browned and got tasty-looking pretty quickly. The mushrooms and onions just need to brown a little, but not cook through. That is what the slow cooker is for!
I added to the mushrooms and shallots, one tablespoon of minced garlic and stirred. Then came the “stew” part of the meal – to the same pan I combined a can of diced tomatoes, a few tablespoons of tomato paste, black pepper and ground thyme. I prefer dried thyme leaves over ground thyme, but I only had ground (you can accidentally add too much thyme flavoring with the ground thyme since it is more condensed, so you have to be careful using it).
After stirring and letting it bubble for just a minute, I turned off the heat. I transferred everything from the pan to the slow cooker, right on top of the chicken. I set my slow cooker for 6.5 hours. You can see below in the second picture that it got a lot saucier during cooking!
Instead of serving this over rice, I bought a freezer pack of riced cauliflower and diced vegetables. You can’t even taste the rice when it is under something like this, and this is an easy way to get more vegetables into the dish, as well.
Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Red Potatoes
• 2.5 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, seasoned with black pepper
• 1.5 pounds of small red potatoes, halved
• 1 tablespoon of olive oil
• 2 tablespoons of margarine/butter spread or real butter
• 8 cloves of garlic, chopped
• Fresh thyme, chopped (dried thyme leaves can be substituted)
• Fresh parsley, chopped (dried parsley can be substituted)
• 1/4 cup of chicken broth (low-sodium or regular)
Directions: Sear chicken thighs in a pan sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side, until browned. Meanwhile, add the halved potatoes, olive oil, margarine/butter spread, garlic, thyme and parsley to a slow cooker bowl and toss together until combined. Once chicken thighs are browned, add to the slow cooker bowl. Pour in 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Cover, and set slow cooker for 8 hours on low.
Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms
• 2.5 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, seasoned with dry chicken seasoning rub or salt/pepper
• 16oz. of white mushrooms, sliced and rinsed
• 2 shallots, chopped, or 1 small white onion, chopped
• 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
• 1, 14 oz. can of drained diced tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
• black pepper, to taste
• 2-3 teaspoons of ground thyme or thyme leaves.
Directions: Sear chicken thighs in pan sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side or until browned. Add to slow cooker bowl. In the same pan, brown white mushrooms and shallots until slightly softened. Then, add garlic and cook for another minute. Last, add to the pan the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, black pepper and thyme. Stir to combine and let simmer for one or two minutes. Turn off heat, and add the contents of the pan into the slow cooker bowl (just add on top of the chicken). Cover, and set slow cooker for 6.5 hours on low. Serve over regular rice or cauliflower rice.