….and for dinner

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.

Italian Chicken Stew

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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6 thoughts on “….and for dinner

  1. I had never had a crock pot/slow cooker until I got this one, and I love it!

  2. I’m sure your gourmet group enjoyed your vibrant and tasty main course. Your table setting for the evening was lovely as well. I bought my slow cooker right before your model came out. I really love the idea of only using one pot.

  3. shirley@housepitalitydesigns February 24, 2012 — 11:46 am

    It is my turn to host our dinner group…With our dinner group, the hostess is responsible for everything…the guests just arrive…It is hard for me and all the other hubbies are gourmet cooks..My sweet ever so thoughtful hubby is not good in the kitchen. He’s lucky if he can find a ladle…I am doing Italian as I can prepare much of the food ahead of time…any suggestions would be greatly appreciated….Will have to try your recipe soon…Can the saffron be substituted?

  4. It sounds delicious, and the fact that it’s easy to make gives it an even greater appeal! Those saffron threads, though…SO pricey! I was just buying some spice yesterday and saw them for nearly $12 for an amount that could barely fill a thimble! OK…I exaggerate. But the container was not even the size of a matchbook! At World Market, they don’t even keep it out in the general population. You have to ASK for it, and they bring it to you from the back room!!! I kind of like the idea of eating something that requires tight security measures! 🙂

    1. shirley@housepitalitydesigns February 24, 2012 — 11:44 am

      Alycia, you are too funny…I agree with you on the saffron..we had a Progressive Dinner here in the neighborhood a while back and one of the ingredients was saffron…the ones who had to make that dish really complained..they said gold was cheaper!

      1. You all are right….saffron is like gold, at least in our markets. In Morocco, however, it is a commonly used ingredient and not nearly as expensive. I loaded up. Regarding the recipe, I’ve subbed Italian seasoning and never knew the difference.

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