Snowed In With A Slow-Cooked Chicken Dinner

So this post is a bit behind schedule, but even though I've let so much time lapse, I couldn't not tell you about this recipe.

When we had that first big snow storm, back on December 19, I was actually really excited for it. I thought it would be fun to get snowed in with my boyfriend (who jokingly rolled his eyes at the idea), some movies, and a nice slow-cooked meal.

The night before the storm was expected, we went food shopping and got all the ingredients for Andrew Schloss' slow-cooked chicken dinner. Schloss is the author of Art of the Slow Cooker. I've heard some negative feedback on this book -- about how it's not really a slow cooker cookbook because the recipes entail so much prep work. It certainly is not Fix-It And Forget-It, but I have been pleased with the results of recipes I've tried from it, even though they involve some upfront work and post-slow-cooking work. My one complaint is that I can't really make any of these recipes on a week day -- throwing everything in the crockpot on my way out the door to work. But they are good on a day off -- or an afternoon off, as was the case for me on snowstorm Friday.

After I finished working and as the first flakes were making their way to the ground, I began preparing this recipe. First, the spice rub for the chicken -- a nice mixture of brown sugar, salt and pepper, paprika, dry mustard, thyme, and garlic powder. There's also supposed to be dried sage and rosemary, but I didn't have those and forgot to pick them up at the store.

With the rub prepared, I turned to the next task: the chicken itself. I stood there looking at the whole chicken we had bought and looking at the part of the recipe I skipped over before that says to cut the chicken into parts, and then I looked at the chicken again. I groaned, thinking I would have bought chicken parts if I had paid better attention initially. No chance of that now.

Well, this was something new for me, so I took out Joy of Cooking and turned to the section on butchering a chicken. I read the text, examined the diagrams, and still felt lost.

My boyfriend convinced me I could do it. And I, knife in hand, went to work. In the end, I think I did alright. I didn't cut the wing tips off. And I didn't separate the drumsticks from the thighs, but I ended up with four nice chicken pieces.

When we were done, I swore I would never buy a whole chicken again if I needed to cut it prior to cooking, but my boyfriend recently surprised me with a copy of Knives Cooks Love, and it just might be enough to inspire me to try again.

With the chicken cut up, I next had to remove the skin from all of the pieces except the wings, combine the spices with flour, and rub the chicken with this mixture. The remaining flour mixture helps thicken the sauce later. Then I put some potatoes on the stove to boil. After they boiled for about 5 minutes, I moved them to the slow cooker, as the recipe instructed.

And then I browned the seasoned chicken on both sides.

Next: all the veggies. Chopped onions, carrots, and celery get sauteed in a little oil...

...and the remaining flour mixture.

After that I poured in some wine, which added liquid -- pretty important when it comes to slow cooking -- and also great flavor. And then some chicken broth goes in, for a little more liquid and flavor. Because of the seasoned flour, the broth and wine thicken to a thin gravy.

I poured the vegetables and sauce over the potatoes and placed the chicken pieces on top. Then it's 3 to 4 hours on the high setting, during which time the whole place smelled so good!

When time was up, I took the chicken out of the slow cooker and scooped out the veggies. To the leftover gravy in the pot, I added potato flakes. The recipe calls for them to thicken the gravy even more.

Then I poured that gravy over the chicken and veggies I had arranged in a serving dish, and we were ready to eat.

This was the perfect meal, warm and comforting, to eat while watching the snow fall and pile up. The chicken came right off the bone, and the sauce complemented it well. I liked it so much I even used my biscuit to wipe up what was left on my plate.

The leftovers were just as good. I simply put the whole pan, covered with foil, into the oven at 350 degrees for about a half hour and then uncovered it and cooked the chicken until it was piping hot, about another half hour.

Don't forget to check out Art of the Slow Cooker for the complete recipe!