Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Slow Cooker Chicken & Mushroom Farro Risotto
This time of year everyone is extra busy. Between shopping for gifts, wrapping those gifts, baking up specials treats, decorating the house, etc etc, ON TOP OF your regular family/work/house/pet duties, it leaves us all stretched for time. That’s one reason I love to turn to my slow cooker during busy times. While my slow cooker tag may not show it, I actually use mine a lot! I often make the same dishes over & over that are already on my blog; I might make a simple pot roast; or I’ll try a new recipe that only ends up tasting so-so, or is so beyond fugly I don’t go to the trouble to take a photo. This was yet another new recipe I was trying out, and I honestly didn’t know if we would like it. I literally braced myself for a flop, as it wasn’t until I was assembling the meal, that I noticed it only had so-so reviews. I’ve never made risotto, let alone a farro risotto. And in the slow cooker?! Wasn’t risotto supposed to be constantly stirred to get that creamy texture and flavor? Luckily, I worried over nothing. I could smell this one working it’s magic, and it ended up tasting as good as it smelled.
My problem with slow cooker meals are that the really simple and easy ones call for “can of cream of _____” or have a lot of ingredients that I’m not a fan of. Then, a lot of the slow cooker recipes that appeal to me as far as “clean” type of foods, using fresh vegetables, etc, are often a multi-step process that nearly always calls for browning meat and practically cooking the whole damn thing before you even put it in the slow cooker. Multi-step slow cooker meals defeat the purpose in my opinion! The prep time for this meal is minimal, and it doesn’t have a multi-step cooking process. I bought pre-chopped mushrooms, so all I had to chop was the leeks. This was almost one of those “dump everything in & turn it on” type of meals, but using “REAL” ingredients. (I will add, sometimes boneless skinless chicken thighs are hard for me to find. The one grocery store that always has them for me is Publix. At other grocery stores I can often find boneless, but with the skin still on. So if you can’t find skinless, you will have to add in the step of cutting the skin off.)
This meal felt like upscale comfort food. I swear, with one bite it instantly shot up to the top of the list of my favorite slow cooker meals. I love the texture of the farro, and was surprised at how creamy it tasted. It’s sad that it’s a little ugly, but I have to say, this was surprisingly delicious. On a cold, dreary day, this could certainly warm & cheer you up. As it turned out I made this on a 75 degree December day, but it still was the perfect meal to come home to as I was exhausted and starving!
Slow-Cooker Chicken and Mushroom Farro Risotto
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 20 minutes
*Honestly, in my opinion, the parsley adds no flavor to this dish. It's only a garnish to keep it from looking so fugly. So if you have no one to impress, feel free to skip it! I picked it all off before I ate this. :)
2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole farro
1 pound cremini or button mushrooms, halved or quartered if large (I used portabello)
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved and sliced
1 bay leaf
pinch ground nutmeg
kosher salt and black pepper
4 small boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 pound)
1 3-inch piece Parmesan rind and 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus more grated for serving
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves **Optional garnish**
Combine the broth, farro, mushrooms, leeks, Parmesan rind, bay leaf, nutmeg, 1¼ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Top with the chicken.
Cover and cook until the chicken is tender, on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).
Discard the Parmesan rind and bay leaf. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken into large pieces. Stir in the butter and grated Parmesan.
Sprinkle the risotto with the parsley and serve with additional grated Parmesan.
Per Serving: Calories 478; Fat 19g; Sat Fat 8g; Cholesterol 99mg; Sodium 933mg; Protein 36g; Carbohydrate 44g; Sugar 6g; Fiber 6g; Iron 4mg; Calcium 197mg
Real Simple magazine Dec 2013