Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken and Fennel

When I bought my first slow cooker, its sole purpose was to make cholent, the traditional stew that cooks all night to be served during Shabbat lunch.  Growing up, my mother never made cholent, so for me, eating cholent was a real treat; I love the warmth and richness of this humble stew.  Until recently, the only action my slow cooker had was in the winter when I made the occasional cholent. 

However, now that I am a working mom, I am finding that the slow cooker can really help me get dinner on the table mid-week as well as on Shabbat.  I have been reading a lot of slow cooker recipes in magazines and on Pinterest (did you know you could even bake a cake in one!?!).  I got inspired to try something new. 

This dish is a perfect one pot meal.  It has a protein (chicken), a starch (brown rice), and a vegetable (fennel).  It works great as a weeknight meal, as a Shabbat dinner entree, or as a cholent replacement for Shabbat lunch.  Don’t be scared away by the fennel.  This licorice tasting vegetable gets very sweet and tender when cooked.   In fact, it is quite child friendly: my one year old son gobbled up the fennel faster than I could get it on his plate!

Slow Cooker Chicken and Fennel
(This recipe is an adaptation from Real Simple magazine)

2 lbs chicken thighs and legs, bone-in, with as much skin removed as possible
1 cup dry brown basmati rice
2 fennels, sliced.  Reserve some fronds for serving
½ onion, sliced
2 ½ cups water mixed with 1 scant Tablespoon bouillon (alternative could be 2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth)
1 Tablespoon paprika, divided

Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker.  Sprinkle some of the paprika on the chicken.  Pour dried rice on top of chicken and layer onion and fennel on top.  Sprinkle remainder of paprika over vegetables.  Pour water/broth into the crockpot.  Cover.  Cook on low for about 7 hours or high for about 4 hours.  Garnish with fennel fronds.  Serve with a green vegetable or salad.