I think I have a love/hate relationship with slow cookers. The concept of the slow cooker is undeniably fabulous – put something in the pot when you leave the house in the morning and voila, when you come home from work, you have a meal ready to go. The challenge is to find or create slow cooker recipes that in the end not only produce a meal but a flavorful one, one that is not cooked to the Peter Principal of bland. I’ve tried many variations of slow cooker recipes and have only a few that I think I’ve perfected. This is one of them.
What I’ve found with a slow cooker is if you vary what you are slow cooking with either other ingredients not in the slow cooker or ingredients that you put in the slow cooker near the end of the cooking process you’ll get a much better outcome. So is the case with this recipe.
So let’s talk slow cooker honey garlic chicken…
Lesson Learned 1 – The best type of chicken to use and how to prepare it: For this recipe and for most slow cooker recipes involving chicken, I use chicken thighs. I recommend using bone in, skin on chicken thighs for this particular recipe. Slow cooking tends to take the moisture out of chicken and by using these types of chicken thighs you protect yourself against getting dried out, bland chicken. I recommend searing the thighs briefly over a very hot heat, preferably in a cast iron skillet, before putting them into the slow cooker. Then after the meal is prepared, I recommend putting the chicken under the broiler just briefly the crisp up the exterior skin a little. As I mentioned earlier, I think the process of slow cooking is merely a part of the cooking process and not the entire thing. By searing and then briefly putting the chicken under the broiler at the end, you’ll wind up with a juicier, more flavorful outcome.
Lesson Learned 2 – Get to know how your slow cooker cooks: All slow cookers are not created equal. Some have higher default temperature settings than others. I have an All-Clad slow cooker and I love it, but I’ve learned over time that I can lessen the cooking time on my chicken recipes and they turn out better. Many of the recipes I read from which I based this one called for the cooking time to be 7-8 hours on low. In my experience and with my slow cooker I know I can cook chicken for 6 hours on low and I wind up with chicken that is cooked through but doesn’t taste like chalk. Especially with this recipe where you open the slow cooker twice during the cooking process to baste and to add the haricot vert. So be aware, you may have a few disappointments before perfecting recipes in your slow cooker. But there is nothing like the convenience of a slow cooker and once you find your groove with yours, you will love it!
Lesson Learned 3 – Ingredients to add at the end of the cooking process: In this recipe you add the haricot vert (green beans) during the last half hour of cooking. At the time I added them, I also scooped some of the sauce over the chicken just to add a little more moisture to it. (I also basted the chicken with the sauce about half way through the cooking process). By adding the green beans at the end they turned out crisp tender and were delightful. Put in only the amount you intend to have for that meal. If you have leftovers, cook a fresh bunch of beans at that time.
Also, if you want crisp tender onions you can add frozen pearl onions in with the haricot vert during the last thirty minutes.
Certain ingredients only take a short amount of time in the slow cooker (like beans, shrimp, frozen okra) but others take the full cooking time (like carrots, potatoes and onions). The ones you cook the entire time should always be cut into large chunks so they don’t fall apart at the end. The ones you put in for a short time can go in as is.
I think you’ll like this recipe. It definitely is easy and with a few simple tricks you can achieve great flavor as well. Try it and tell me what you think!
Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken…
8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
baby new potatoes (or red potatoes quartered)
baby carrots (or 4-5 large carrots cut into chunks)
1 large sweet onion, quartered (or frozen pearl onions)
haricot vert (thin green beans), enough for your initial serving
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. garlic infused olive oil (you can use plain olive oil)
1 1/2 cups low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 cups clover honey
3/4 cup ketchup
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (you can add more if you want it spicier)
Salt and pepper
In a cast iron skillet, heat the butter and olive oil until the butter is melted. Pat dry the chicken thighs and season them with salt and pepper. Place them skin side down into the hot pan. Sear them until light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the chicken thighs from the pan and set aside.
Whisk together the soy sauce, honey, ketchup, garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Place the potatoes, carrots and onions (if using frozen pearl onions, add them during the last 30 minutes of cooking time) in the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the chicken and vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours (this time depends on your slow cooker and its default temperatures). Half way through the cooking process baste the chicken with the soy sauce mixture.
One half hour before serving add the green beans and baste the chicken again (add the frozen pearl onions at this time). If desired, before serving, place the chicken thighs on a baking sheet and put them under the broiler for approximately three minutes. Serve immediately.