Granny’s Guide to Foodcrafting: Slow Cooker Strategery and the Best Chicken Cacciatore

Hey there. Granny’s typo above is intentional. Because you need some strategery when you use your slow cooker; it helps what you’re cooking for six or eight or 10 hours not just taste like a pile of goo.

  1. Aromatics first. You want the aromatics (garlic, onions, herbs, mushrooms, whatever is a complement to the dish, but not a main part) to brown and simmer closest to your slow cooker’s heat source. This means you put them on the bottom.
  2. Avoid mixing. The whole idea of a slow cooker is the parts collapse and mingle on their own through the addition of slow heat to gravity. You want this to happen on its own for best flavor.
  3. Protein last. If you’re cooking meat, you want to put it on top of everything else so the fat and juices render down onto everything else and it makes its own gravy.
  4. Carbs separate. Unless you’re only cooking a soup for a quick couple of hours, always cook your carbs separately from your saucy dish. They’ll disintegrate if you don’t. Yes, even thick-hulled wild rice.

If you always keep this stacking method in mind, you’ll have the painlessly home-cooked meal you wanted.

Now, here’s a recipe to get you started.

Totally Awesome Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

  • As much chicken as you want, frozen (I use boneless, skinless thighs)
  • A bell pepper or two (I use red)
  • An onion, sliced thin
  • 8 to 12 oz. of mushrooms, sliced a half-inch thick (any kind you like)
  • A couple of cloves of garlic, minced
  • A quart or so of tomatoes (I use home-canned or home-frozen, but you can use any form you like)
  • ½ cup dry white wine (optional)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • A pinch of dried basil
  • A pinch of dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

First, layer the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, basil and mushrooms along the bottom of the slow cooker (in that order, or thereabouts).

Layer the bell pepper over this first pile.

Then, plop in the tomatoes and arrange the chicken over all that. Pour wine over the whole thing.

Set on low and cook for 6 to 8 hours. I’ve even let it go for 12 and the chicken didn’t dry out.

Serve over pasta or rice.

I wish I were eating it right now.

By jennyroseryan

Jenny Rose Ryan is a DIY junkie and a self-professed grandma. (In the sense that she likes to say things like, "Back in my day..." and enjoys doilies, blue hair and making things from scratch.) A frequent contributor to BUST Magazine, Jenny Rose also contributed heavily to the BUST DIY Guide to Life (while 9 months pregnant -- the ultimate do-it-yourself experience), and is an avid runner and marathon-fiend. When not carin' for the grumpy babe, writing or running, you can find her listening to new metal (as opposed to nu metal) and being so horrified by American politics that she bakes instead.

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