Slow Cooking Our Way to Summer

You know me and my love for my Cuisinart Slow Cooker (like the one shown below). If I had to pick one kitchen tool to take with me on a desert island, it'd be this bad boy right here.  

 

Not only do I work on my willpower as the smells waft through my home when I use this tool, but it makes for some of the BEST meals I've made to date. (See my Tender Hearts & Tender Pork post.)

Although probably not one of THE BEST, I've made in the slow cooker, this is definitely a keeper to whip at during warm months. 

I was gifted The New Slow Cooker by William Sonoma the same year I got my slow cooker and it's been a source of some amazing dishes. One being the recipe I'm sharing with you today.

 

Braised Chicken and Summer Orzo Salad

Ingredients:

For Braised Chicken:

  • 4 pieces of chicken breast. The actual recipe calls for 2 lbs of skinless, bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat. I, on the other hand, always have a ton of frozen chicken breast in my freezer so I always choose to use those.  
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme. 
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of dry white wine
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tsp of white wine vinegar. J and I aren't huge vinegar fans so I always tend to put less than the recipe requires when it does call for vinegar. The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 tsp, but I only put about 1 tsp.
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Heat oil in skillet/ frying pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. When the oil and pan have heated, place the chicken and sear until golden brown on both sides. Should be about 8 to 9 minutes. 
  2. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. 
  3. Pour off most of the fat in the pan and return it to the heat. Add the onion, thyme, and bay leaves. Sauté until the onions begin to color. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. 
  4. Pour in the wine and vinegar and stir to dislodge any browned pits on the bottom of the pan. 
  5. Stir in stock, salt and pepper. Mix together. Transfer the contents of the pan to the slow cooker and stack the chicken on top.
  6. Cover and cook on "low" for 4 hours. 
  7. Serve on top of Summer Orzo Salad. 

Ingredients

For Summer Orzo Salad:

  • 1 lb orzo (My favorite orzo brand is RiceSelect).
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar (Again, J and I aren't huge vinegar fans so I always tend to put less than the recipe requires when it does call for vinegar. The original recipe calls for 2 Tbsp, but I only put about 1 tsp.)
  • 1 Tbsp of pesto, homemade or store bought
  • 1 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes (I used can diced tomatoes that I drained because I did not have cherry tomatoes.)
  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • salt and pepper

Steps:

  1. Cook orzo according to package. Set aside. 
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together EVOO, white wine vinegar, pesto, salt and pepper. 
  3. Add the orzo and toss to coat evenly.
  4. Fold in cherry tomatoes and spinach. 

The salad takes all of 10 minutes to put together, and that's only because you have to wait for the pasta to cook. 

This was a great, light summer dish that left us feeling satisfied, but not overly stuffer. J took leftovers to work, too, since it made a ton. He said the leftovers were even better! *Pat on back*. :P