14 Nov Special of the day: Dust off the Crockpot, Cozy Comfort Food for All!
Almost everyone I bumped into last week was bracing themselves for… the big storm. Some were stocking up on provisions at the store so they could simmer up something comforting to come out of the cold to, perhaps a soup or a stew, or some other satisfying supper. Cozy comfort food for all!
A popular approach to combating winter weather outside is dusting off of the Crockpot inside in the kitchen. It seems like home cooks are always on the lookout for new ways to make good use of that dependable domestic device, though for me its best application is slow-cooking meat items and using the tender meat it yields in multiples dishes throughout the week.
Let the Crockpot do the cooking this week with a simple equation: One whole chicken + chicken stock + a splash of white wine + some seasoning + 6 hours on low in the slow cooker will produce enough tender pull-apart chicken to use such cozy comfort food recipes as Tarragon Chicken with Cheesy Biscuits, Spicy Chicken Quesadillas and Rosemary Chicken Rainbow Rotini Soup. (Though the Crockpot chicken could be used in anything your heart desires: chicken pot pies, chicken taco bar, chicken salad, barbecued chicken pizza, a party platter of nachos…) Happy slow cooking!
3 26-ounce cartons chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Set crockpot to low. Place chicken in crockpot. Pour chicken stock and wine over the chicken. Add salt and pepper. Cover and let cook on low heat 6 hours. Turn crockpot off and remove chicken from crockpot. Debone chicken on large cutting board. (Discard chicken bones, etcetera.) Reserve cooked chicken meat. Reserve cooking liquid*. (Both the cooked chicken and the cooking liquid can be covered and refrigerated for use in the recipes that follow.)
Tarragon Chicken with Cheesy Biscuits
4 cups cooking liquid (from cooking the chicken in the Crockpot)
3 tbsp. corn starch
2 tbsp. fresh tarragon, leaves only, minced
Freshly ground pepper
Strain cooking liquid into large saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until simmering. Remove 1/3 cup cooking liquid from the saucepan and place in small jar. Add cornstarch. Cover jar and shake until well mixed. Whisk into simmering cooking liquid in saucepan and cook, stirring frequently until slightly thickened. Add tarragon and salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce into medium baking dish.
Make the cheesy biscuits:
2 cups flour
½ cup + 1 tbsp. butter
¾ cup buttermilk
2/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
Fresh tarragon sprigs, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium mixing bowl, use a pastry blender to cut butter into flour until well incorporated. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in buttermilk. Add parmesan cheese and salt and use hands to mix into a soft dough, adding a bit more buttermilk, if necessary. Roll dough onto lightly floured board to a thickness of ½ inch. Cut dough into 3 to 4-inch round biscuits and arrange atop tarragon chicken in baking dish.
Bake Tarragon Chicken with Cheesy Biscuits on middle rack of preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown. Remove from oven and serve hot, garnished with fresh tarragon sprigs. Enjoy!
Spicy Chicken Quesadillas
(serves two for lunch)
2 large white tortillas
¾ cup cooked chicken
½ cup salsa
¾ cup grated cheese (use pepper jack or mild cheddar, whichever you prefer)
2 tbsp. oil
Heat electric griddle to 350 degrees. Brush tortilla with oil to cover one side.
Combine chicken and salsa in medium bowl and stir to mix.
Place tortilla oil side down on preheated grill. Top with chicken and salsa mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with second tortilla. Brush top of second tortilla with oil to cover. Flip quesadilla when under side is golden brown. Cook on other side for a few minutes, until golden brown. Cut in wedges and serve hot with additional salsa and sour cream. Enjoy!
Rosemary Chicken Rainbow Rotini Soup
(makes a 4 quart pot of soup)
2 quarts cooking liquid (from cooking the chicken in the Crockpot)
½ cup sweet onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried rosemary
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
2 ½ cups rainbow rotini pasta
Strain cooking liquid into large cooking pot. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Add vegetables, herbs, and chicken and cook for 20 minutes. Add rainbow rotini and cook for an additional 7 minutes until pasta is cooked. Serve hot with cheese toast. Enjoy!
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at http://sydnegeorge.com/blog/.