We were always eating chicken casserole as kids. I remember visiting Mum a few years ago, feeling really poorly after a cold had knocked me for six, and she had chicken casserole in a huge dish in the oven, filling the house with familiar aromas. I was sat in front of a bowl within minutes!
She wrote the recipe down for me and I love to throw this together in a slow cooker when it's a little chilly outside.
We picked up a new mini-slow cooker recently, just big enough for 2 meals.
I think it's pretty great for those times when we don't care for leftovers. Right now, our freezer is so full, there's no room at the inn for anything else, so it was a great choice.
I used the following ingredients:
- 4 Chicken Thighs (they just about fitted - ours were a little on the large side)
- I white Onion
- 1 Leek
- 1 Carrot
- 1 Potato
- 1 small stick Celery
- 4 Mushrooms, medium
- Chicken stock pot
- A little White Flour for the chicken - any kind does fine
- Wine - essential, I used about half of this mini-bottle
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Olive Oil for frying off veggies/chicken
- Mixed Herbs, dried, to taste - I use about 0.5 tsp
I started by flouring the chicken. I just tip a little flour onto a plate, add a little salt and pepper and coat it all quickly, shaking it off a little before I place it into the frying pan.
Next, get a good tbsp of olive oil on a medium heat in a frying pan. This is a new pan we picked up recently and we love it. It is so easy to use and non-stick. Plus the high edges are really great for dishes like this. I can't wait to try omelettes in it.
I brown the chicken skins off a little for extra flavour in the final stew. Mum sometimes adds a little bacon to the mix too, but not for today as I'm saving ours for Saturday morning sandwiches!
While the chicken thighs are browning, two at a time, I get the slow cooker switched on. I put a little boiling water in the bottom and add my stock pot. You could also use the tubs of bone broth / stock you can pick up in the supermarkets.
Once the chicken is browned, but not cooked through, I add it to the pot along with the chopped carrot and potato. I keep it fairly chunky, depending how much time the casserole has to cook. This one had about 4-5 hours before Barry got home, so I went a little smaller than usual.
I then chop up the rest of the veggies. I love chopping veg and food prep, I think I should get a job as a Sous Chef, I'd be in heaven. I find it so therapeutic standing at the kitchen counter, chopping a variety of brightly coloured veggies.
I gently fry off the onion, leek and celery until they are just soft. I never bother to fry the carrot or potato, they just go in raw, but you could fry them too for a true mirepoix vegetable base.
I add the softened onion, leek and celery to the pot, then fry off the mushrooms separately.
I always remember a tip a chef gave me years ago, to cook mushrooms until they release their water and beyond. They will suck up any oil in the pan like little sponges and the temptation is to add more oil, but don't. Leave them and after a while, they release their water. Once the water cooks off, you start to impart real flavour and get some beautiful golden colouring going on.
Add the mushrooms to the pot too when they are browned.
I add about a tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce, a pinch of salt and pepper and about half a tsp of mixed herbs.
Wine. So important and in the finished article, I swear you have no idea it's there, other than the tender, melt in the mouth meat and rich, delicious stock. I top it up as far as I dare with white or rosé wine. This one is a Zinfandel and worked perfectly.
It's really important not to overfill slow-cookers, as I have found out in the past. They will boil over, so best to err on the side of caution and leave a good inch or so at the top.
Tidy up time and lid on for the slow cooker. I put mine on High and left it to simmer away for about 4.5 hours.
I decided, as there wasn't a huge amount of potato in the pot, to add some last minute freezer dumplings. I didn't have the ingredients to make them from scratch today, so these are a great standby item.
In they went looking a little pale! I enjoyed them from the slow cooker, however, I do love when they are browned on top and have that slight crunch. Next time, I will opt for the cook in oven option to see how they turn out.
Off to collect Barry from the Train Station. Our casserole was smelling heavenly when we walked back in through the front door.
After we both had a quick taste test, I added a tiny bit of extra salt and pepper over the top and fresh parsley.
Melt in the mouth meat and so much flavour in the stock. The veggies were tender but not at all mushy. Timed to perfection.
Delicious casserole every time. Thanks Mum!
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