22 September 2014

Eats: crockpot bourbon chicken

We recently went out to eat with some friends at one of my favorite restaurants in St. Louis. What makes it one of my favorite restaurants? Delicious burgers (you all know how much I love a good burger nowadays!), fantastic ice cream, and the booziest beverages you ever did see. Sometimes they even combine those things into one incredible concoction, like the salted caramel bourbon bacon milkshake. I maintain that’s something you should try at least once in your life, just to say you did. (I did!)

The only downside to eating there was, as you might guess, that I am currently sharing a body with the tiny new roommate, who could not possibly appreciate a spiked milkshake as much as I would. Nor a bourbon iced tea, or a boozy lemonade, or even just a straight-up Manhattan.

And so... a bourbon craving was not only unfulfilled, but intensified.

That’s when I started to think of a fetally-acceptable substitute for this situation. Fortunately, I remembered the bourbon chicken I made not long ago. I also remembered a desire to start using my crockpot again, now that fall is upon us and I need to polish up my fast-dinner-prep repertoire (for when tiny new roommate makes his debut). Could I adapt that bourbon chicken to the crockpot? I sure could try!

So. I cut up two chicken breasts, just as before.

And to them, I added a marinade tweaked from the last time. Since I had way way way too much liquid before, and crockpot cooking generally needs less liquid, I halved it. I also added a bit more cornstarch, so that the sauce could thicken as the chicken cooked.

Ultimately this marinade contained a quarter-cup each of soy sauce and bourbon, two tablespoons each of vinegar and brown sugar, and a teaspoon of cornstarch (dissolve it in a small volume of liquid in a separate bowl, so no clumps). I also sprinkled in dried ginger, red and black pepper, and garlic powder... no measuring necessary.

Dump it all in the crockpot. Practically done!

I think this would be perfect to mix up and store with diced chicken in a freezer bag, then thaw and dump in the crockpot as needed. I didn’t do that this time, but I think I will in the future. And while I’m tossing out tips, maybe add some green pepper! Mr. P loathes them so I can’t. Do it for me.

Whether you freeze and thaw, or make this all at once, you should add...

Green onions! I heard funny things happen to them when you freeze them, so add them later (green peppers get similar warnings sometimes too, now that I think about it, but I’ve definitely seen them included in freezer recipes before). I used the green ends of four of them.

Since I had my act ever-so-slightly more together this day than the last time I made this, I was able to let the chicken marinate for a little over an hour. But you could definitely set this up the night before in your crockpot (if you don’t take the freezer tip)!

Then it’s just a matter of letting your crockpot do its thang. Mine cooked the whole shebang on low for three hours, during which time the sun slipped away and cursed me with terrible lighting. Shortening days, sigh.

Note that I only needed three hours because my slow cooker isn’t so slow. Yours might need longer – adjust as necessary! And obviously, if you start from frozen and thaw it in the fridge, it might need a bit extra time to warm up before cooking.

The amount of liquid was much better this time, even if it still wasn’t “sticky” as claimed in the original source. And cooking it in the crockpot left the chicken nice and tender, too!

Did this totally cure my cure for a tasty cocktail? Not entirely – because honestly, it doesn’t taste that much like bourbon. But it was delicious at least, and of course, I figured out a new way to make a dish that will come in handy when I can have a boozy beverage to accompany it. If you hadn’t tried this yet, here’s an easier way to enjoy it!


Janice said...

If I may be so bold as to offer a few tips for now/future cooking?
1. When making a yummy recipe like this... double or triple it! Then freeze what you don't consume that meal into serving size portions. Next time you're short on time, all you'd have to do is thaw, heat, and eat. Bingo! 3 hour cook time shortened to less than 20 minutes.
2. I just saw "crock pot cooking bags"!
What the what?! Virtually no clean up! No spraying the crock so food/sauces don't stick to sides making clean up harder. Just pour food out of the cooking bag and enjoy. Easy-peasy! (Not sure about cooking in plastic when growing a baby or even those of us not in that careful physical state though.) Haven't tried them myself but...
Looks like another S. recipe I have GOT to put on my rotation!