On a recent cold day, we consulted what has become our crock-pot “bible” — America’s Test Kitchen’s “Slow Cooker Revolution” — for yet another delicious, set-it-and-forget-it, slow-cooked dish. We’re slowly (pun intended) working our way through the book, and pretty much everything we’ve tried has been good, if not great. The pork and ramen soup is a definite keeper, as is the recipe for smothered pork chops. And we can’t forget (or stop craving) the chicken and dirty rice. Now we can add the chicken provençal recipe to our list of favorites from this book. It doesn’t get much more flavorful than bone-in chicken thighs, cooked all day over low heat in a braise made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, oregano, white wine and bay leaves, then finished with freshly chopped olives, parsley and a drizzle of really good olive oil. Tastes like something you would enjoy after a long day of touring the French countryside.
Chop an onion, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onions with a dash of salt and cook until they soften and begin to brown — about 6-8 minutes.
Add 4-5 cloves of minced garlic, a teaspoon of chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano) and a tablespoon of tomato paste to the skillet and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add 1/4 cup white wine to the skillet and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker and add the can of crushed (or diced) tomatoes to the slow cooker as well.
Remove the skin from the bone-in chicken thighs (you could use skinless, boneless thighs, but the bone-in variety have more flavor), trim the thighs of visible fat and season both sides of each thigh with salt and pepper.
Nestle the thighs into the tomato and onion mixture in the slow cooker, add a bay leaf, then cook the chicken on low for 4-6 hours.
When the chicken is cooked through and tender, remove it from the slow-cooker to a plate and tent the plate loosely with foil. Allow the liquid in the slow cooker to settle for about 5 minutes, then spoon off any excess fat from the surface (we didn’t have much.) Remove and discard the bay leaf.
Add the chopped olives and parsley to the sauce in the slow cooker, taste and add salt & pepper as needed. The original recipe calls for “niçoise olives” (of course it does, they’re French!), but we couldn’t find any so we used Kalamata olives instead.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken, drizzle with a little olive oil and serve. We served ours with a chunk of (homemade!) crusty bread and a garden salad. And pretended that we were dining al fresco on the terrace of a little villa overlooking the French countryside.
Slow-Cooker Chicken Provençal
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus extra for serving)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (or ½ teaspoon dried)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 (14.5 oz) can crushed (or diced) tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 4-6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed and trimmed of fat
- salt & pepper
- ½ cup pitted olives (niçoise or Kalamata), chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the onions and cook until they soften and begin to brown — about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano and tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the skillet. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker and add the tomatoes to the slow cooker.
- Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt & pepper. Nestle the chicken into the tomato/onion mixture in the slow cooker and add the bay leaf. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
- Remove the chicken to a plate and tent with foil. Allow the braising liquid in the slow cooker to settle for about 5 minutes, then spoon off any excess fat from the surface of the liquid. Add the olives and parsley to the liquid, taste and add salt & pepper as needed.
- Spoon the sauce over the chicken, drizzle with good olive oil and serve.