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New cookbook elevates the crockpot’s status
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New cookbook elevates the crockpot’s status

SlowCooker.jpg

Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes:
120 Holiday and Everyday Dishes Made Easy, by Laura Frankel 

Agate Surrey, August 2015, $18.95

It is no secret that heads of busy households have the discovered the value of crockpots, or “slow cookers,” to prepare hearty dinners. Simply assemble the ingredients the morning or night before, dump in the crockpot, set to eight hours or so, and voila, a complete meal is ready by the time everyone is home from work or school.

Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes: 120 Holiday and Everyday Dishes Made Easy seeks to elevate typical slow cooker staples such as cholent or chili into meals even a foodie can savor. Items include appetizers, soups, main and side dishes, even dessert and breakfast. Some enticing recipes worthy of exploration are Italian pumpkin soup, bison chili, dafina (a Moroccan equivalent of cholent), cassoulet with duck and sausage, and falling-off-the-bone short ribs. Vegetarian, fish, and dairy recipes are also included (separate meat and dairy crockpots are required for those keeping kosher).

Yet not all recipes are as simple as dump, cook, and forget. Frankel, the former executive chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago, strongly recommends browning meats prior to slow cooking them. “Every cook has experienced the sensation of simple pieces of meats or vegetables turning mouthwateringly tempting when the surface becomes crusty and brown in a hot pan or over a grill,” she writes. 

Chicken with Rice is one such relatively simple dish that Frankel seeks to transform into a meal worth remembering, slightly modified for readers’ use.

CHICKEN WITH RICE

Olive oil
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, roasted, stemmed, seeded, peeled, and cut into thin strips
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry white wine such as pinot grigio
2 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
1/2 tsp. pimenton (a Spanish smoked paprika)
1/2 tsp. chili flakes (optional)
2 cups short-grain brown rice
1 28-oz. can whole peeled plum tomatoes with their juices, crushed 
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat slow cooker to low. Place large saute pan over medium heat. Lightly coat bottom of pan with oil. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Lightly salt and pepper chicken. Cook chicken, skin side down, in batches, until thoroughly browned, about 10 minutes. Turn and brown the other side. Set chicken aside.

Drain off all but two tablespoons of the fat from pan; return to medium heat. Brown onions about 12 minutes. Add peppers and cook until slightly soft, about three minutes. Add garlic and cook for three minutes more, until garlic is very fragrant and slightly softened. Add wine and scrape up browned bits. Add stock, tomato paste, saffron, pimenton, and chili flakes. Stir to combine. Transfer to crockpot insert.

Stir rice and tomatoes with their juices into vegetables in insert. Place chicken on top and add any juices that have accumulated. Cover and cook on low for six hours.

Gently remove chicken pieces and mound on platter with rice and vegetables. Sprinkle with parsley.

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