With the table set, let’s look at the menu for Italian gourmet night: an antipasto tray, a simple green salad, Italian chicken stew and panna cotta. None of the courses is complicated, and together they are a complementary combination of flavors, perfect for a winter night.
As hostess, I am responsible for the main course, a simple to fix Italian chicken stew that when prepared in a slow cooker requires no attention until serving time.
Large pinch of saffron threads
1/3 c. plus 3 T. dry white wine
3-4 lbs. of chicken pieces (thighs, drumsticks, breasts with bone in)
3/4 c. flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1 T. olive oil
1 yellow onion and 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. chicken stock
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 t. red or white wine vinegar
Soak saffron in 3 T. white wine for 20 minutes. In the meantime, toss chicken in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken in olive oil until golden brown. Transfer to a plate.
Pour off most of the fat from the pan and return it to medium heat. Saute onion and celery until softened and slightly browned. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Pour in 1/3 c. wine and chicken stock. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook to reduce slightly and to concentrate the flavor, about 10 minutes. Transfer contents of the pan to a slow cooker*, stir in tomatoes, saffron and 3 bay leaves. Stack chicken on top. Cover and cook on low setting 5-6 hours.
Remove chicken to a plate and keep warm. Remove discard bay leaves and stir vinegar into the liquid. Divide chicken among shallow bowls and ladle some of the braising liquid and vegetables over each portion. Garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley. Serve with crostini topped with red pepper aioli. (6 servings)
Red Pepper Aioli
Combine 2/3 c. mayonnaise, 2 cloves garlic, 1 small roasted red pepper, well drained, and 1/2 t. white wine vinegar. Pulse in food processor or blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, fold in 2 t. finely chopped flat leaf parsley.
*If you don’t have a slow cooker, this dish can be prepared on the stovetop in a large soup pot. Cooking time over low heat is reduced to 1-2 hours until chicken is tender.
In the year that I’ve had this Cuisinart slow cooker, I’ve learned to love the process. This particular model allows you to sauté/brown, steam, roast and slow cook. I love that you can do it all in one pot rather than having to mess up extra ones. Also, thanks to the extended cooking time, the house is filled with tantalizing aroma which the hubby loves to come home to!
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