Thursday, October 16, 2008

Crock Pot Chicken

We seldomly buy meat during grocery trips. I buy meat once in awhile when it's on sale and keep it in the freezer to thaw when necessary. We haven't bought meat in awhile, and we're down to some slim-pickin's. Last night, while looking through I decided the only thing worth thawing were some chicken breasts.

With my work schedule, I either make dinner before I leave for work, or have something quicker that is convenient to cook once I get home. This morning, I leafed through my Crockpot cookbook to get an idea of something that could cook while I was at work and be done when we got home. It's another thrift store cookbook. This one was only $1.25 and is entitled "The Crockery Pot Cookbook" and put out by Nitty Gritty Productions. The inside is divided into meats in categories, and then other things you can cook in your crockpot like desserts, etc.

I flipped right to chicken, since that is what I had thawed. Of all the pages of chicken recipes only ONE called for the use of chicken breasts. The rest were all whole chickens. It was a Hawaiianish style chicken that called for pineapple and cooked on low.

I searched through the cabinets to see if I had anything on hand to make this, and sadly I did not. That's as far as the cookbook lead me, but I did remember eating a delicious tropical chicken and rice dish at last years "Taste of" our local town. Pairing the recipe's idea and the distant memory of that dish, I decided to come up with my own.

No pineapples on hand, but I did have a can of mandarin oranges. Close enough! I opened the can and dumped the contents, juice and all into the crock pot. Next, I chopped up a medium onion and a green pepper and threw both of those into the pot. I was paranoid that the minimal juice the oranges provided would steam out and my chicken would be dry. I knew the onions and peppers would cook down and give off juice of their own, but I was still paranoid.

I looked in the fridge and grabbed two individual serving, lunch-box style containers of plain apple sauce and dumped those in. Now I was afraid it'd be really sweet, so I threw in 2 or 3 tablespoons of lemon juice (the bottled kind) and a few teaspoons of pre-minced garlic. The result was a really, bright pot of ingredients I had faith in.

I trimmed the chicken breasts and laid them on top, making sure they were tucked down into the liquid, put it on low and left it until I came home.

Coming in the door I could smell it cooking and it wasn't bad, but not really tasty smelling, either. I lifted the lid to poke around and was kind of fearful at this point.

We cooked some rice on the stove and then dished it out onto plates and spooned the crockpot contents on top of the rice.

I quit after a few bites. I just couldn't eat anymore. It was really sweet and the oranges had broken up way too much, becoming mush. Johnny enjoyed it (?!) so kept eating and I ran to McDonald's to grab a quick burger for myself. I was bummed my creation turned out this way, so I just didn't have the desire to go cook something else. Plus- it's Monopoly game time! I might win the $1,000,000! One can always dream.

So why post a recipe I didn't like? Well- to be honest, the chicken itself was pretty awesome. The flavor of the sweetness gunk on it was not, but I was LOVING the juiciness. It was fork-cut tender. I'm not used to cooked poultry being like that and I've got to say I want to try it again.

Next time I will definitely not stray as far from any recipes in my substitutions. I have a feeling pineapple would hold up a lot better than mandarin oranges. Their flavor also is more citrusy and sour, not that syrup-cling flavor of mandarins. Plus, I think the restaurant's sample dish of chicken and rice had some form of coconut milk in the background. I would totally eliminate the apple sauce altogether. It did not need any extra moisture- the onions and peppers added more than enough. Everything was swimming by the time I got home. I'll know next time to not be so paranoid.

If you don't succeed the first time, try, try again! And I will!


Anonymous said...

I have made a ton of things that don't work out! I am mostly "go by the recipe" kind of gal. I wish I could cook by just looking at things and knowing it will turn out well, but mostly not. The chicken did sound good though! I love crock pot chicken. If you want an even simpler recipe, you could take the chicken breasts (frozen or fresh) put them on the bottom, pour a jar of your favorite salsa on top and cook all day. You could still serve it over rice, sprinkled with cheese and sour cream. It's awesome!

Christina said...

I'll have to try that. I love using the crock pot b/c dinner is literally cooking as you're working.