Sunday night I wanted to cook—and eat—a feast. Sure, the holidays may be over, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to subsist on lentils and Napa cabbage for the next 11 months. To get back to the idea behind the blog that birthed this blog, I’m all about living a balanced life. So while I may have eaten a few more cookies and drank a couple of extra glasses of wine during the holiday season than I ordinarily would, I definitely didn’t go off the deep end. I didn’t shove my head into a bag of Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Chips and swear that I’d detox when I got home. And though I did a fair amount of sitting, napping, iPad surfing, and relaxing, I also went with my family and our dogs on daily 5 to 7-mile long hikes through the woods in Vermont (sadly there wasn’t enough snow to ski). Truth be told, I enjoyed every single bite and sip of those treats during the holidays, making the indulgences entirely worth it. And when I returned home to Chicago last week, I just got right back into the swing of how I normally eat—plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and proteins—and not an ounce of guilt.
But Sunday I wanted a true Sunday night feast—one of those meals that satisfies more than just your belly. One of those meals with a couple of different components even if it means working your way through a mile-high pile of dirty dishes afterward. I wanted one of those meals that means you have to spend most of the afternoon in your tiny galley kitchen in your warm apartment with occasional breaks to snuggle beside your football-watching boyfriend and ask, “who is this Tebow guy?” and then, “would you rather roasted or mashed red potatoes?”
Since comfort and slow cooking are pretty much synonymous, I decided on a recipe from another holiday gift: Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen. Normally, slow cooker recipes involve throwing a bunch of items into the appliance, setting it on low, and leaving it alone for 8 hours. This is not one of those recipes. There’s a heck of a lot of peeling, chopping, and cooking involved before the food even goes into the slow cooker for 6 hours. For me, that made this an even more perfect Sunday night meal—it combined the pleasure of the preparation with the rich smells and tender results of slow cooking. It also features one of my most favorite sauces: White wine and cream. Yes, please! So here it is: Chicken with carrots and mushrooms in a white wine, tarragon, and cream sauce served alongside braised kale, mashed red potatoes, and homemade cloud biscuits (recipe coming in a future post). In my experience, this meal pairs very nicely with a viewing of the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.
Chicken with Carrots & Mushrooms in a White Wine, Tarragon, and Cream Sauce
5 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 ¼ pound cremini mushrooms cut into halves or quarters
2 onions, minced
½ tsp dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup flour
¾ cup dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 bay leaves
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup minced fresh tarragon
Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken, skin side down, and brown lightly. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with 1 Tbsp oil and the remaining chicken. Allow the chicken to cool slightly and remove and discard the skin.
Add 2 Tbsp oil to the pan along with the mushrooms, onions, thyme, and ¼ tsp salt. Cover and cook until mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the wine and scrape up any browned bits. Transfer the sauce the slow cooker.
To the slow cooker, add the chicken broth, carrots, soy sauce, and bay leaves. Place the chicken into the slow cooker (it’ll be a tight fit). Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.
Once it’s done cooking and the chicken is tender, remove the chicken and veggies from the slow cooker and tent with foil. Let liquid in slow cooker settle for about 5 minutes and skim fat from the surface. Discard bay leaves. Whisk in cream and tarragon and add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, spoon sauce over chicken breast and vegetables.
Recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution