I saw a version of this recipe online and it intrigued me. First of all I love my slow cooker. It has become a more versatile tool than it was years ago when you’d put in some meat and veggies, make some concoction usually comprised of some sort of cream soup and let it cook for hours until you had a tasteless soggy mess. Slow cookers can produce some great meals but you have to know how to use them. And just like your oven, no two brands of slow cookers are alike so you need to know your slow cooker.
I have two All-Clad slow cookers, a 7 quart and a 5 quart. For smaller meals when I cook for one or two I prefer the 5 quart, plus it has the versatility of browning food in its own sleeve which is very convenient. I find the All-Clad slow cookers to have a nice moderate temperature. Some slow cookers boil your food, even on low. I don’t find that to be the case with mine. I get a nice even slow cooking process and so if I gauge my cooking times correctly I do not wind up with dried out tasteless food.
Enough about slow cookers, let’s talk about slow cooker lemon garlic butter chicken…
Lesson Learned 1 – Recipes are designed to be guides, not gospel: The instructor in one of my more recent cooking classes said this and it really struck home with me. When you are making something savory, make the recipe your own. You don’t have to follow the recipe exactly ingredient by ingredient. Now mind you, this is not the case when you’re baking – you need to be precise with those recipes. But savory recipes can take on a life of their own depending upon your likes and dislikes. So feel free to experiment. Some of my most popular recipes were a result of doing just that.
The version I worked from called for 1/3 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. I did not want the heat so I eliminated that ingredient. I also added less butter and more lemon zest than recommended in the recipe and I added some carrots to the slow cooker which served as a base for the chicken thighs.
Lesson Learned 2 – Avoid the common mistake of long cooking times with your slow cooker: This is all a part of knowing your slow cooker as I mentioned above. I find, mostly where chicken recipes are concerned, that slow cooker recipes have cooking times that are too long. The recipe that I based this on called for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. I cooked my chicken for 5 hours on low and the result was perfect. Normally with beef recipes I find the recommended cooking times to be more accurate. But be careful with chicken in a slow cooker. You can really dry it out by cooking it too long. If you’re not sure if your chicken is done take its internal temperature. The safe internal temperature for cooked chicken is 165 degrees.
Lesson Learned 3 – Yes, you must brown your chicken first to get it to look like my pictures: The one drawback of a slow cooker is that it does not brown meat when it is slow cooking. The good news is there are now slow cookers on the market where you can brown your meat in its own sleeve and place the sleeve back in the slow cooker to finish the rest. These slow cookers tend to be a little more expensive but are a great convenience.
I browned my chicken thighs for about 4 minutes with the skin side down. I just browned them on one side and drained them on paper towels before adding them to the slow cooker. Some people don’t care if their meat looks grey and skip the browning process. But it you want your chicken thighs to look like mine, you’ll need to brown them first.
Lesson Learned 4 – I prefer using chicken thighs in a slow cooker: I find chicken thighs to be more forgiving, especially if you overcook them in a slow cooker. So if you feel it absolutely necessary to cook them for 6 hours on low use chicken thighs. The result will be much better.
Lesson Learned 5 – Slice the garlic in thin slices and place the slices on top of the chicken: I found that to be the best way to infuse the garlic into the meat. If you want you can also put some garlic slices under the meat as well. Once the chicken was done I removed the garlic slices and disposed of them. But you can serve them as well. I’m just not a big fan of eating garlic that way. You can also just mince the garlic and sprinkle it on top of the chicken. The choice is yours.
Lesson Learned 6 – Baste the chicken in the drippings before serving: This recipe makes a great lemon butter sauce. Baste the chicken thighs in that sauce before plating them. You’ll be glad you did.
And that’s it. This is a very basic recipe with a minimal amount of ingredients. You can skip adding the carrots if you want, or you can add some onions under the chicken as well. The choice is yours. I definitely enjoyed this recipe and will make it again. Let me know what you think!
Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Butter Chicken...
4 chicken thighs with skin on
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
4 garlic cloves sliced thin
1/2 stick of butter diced
The zest of one medium size lemon (or two small)
The juice of one medium size lemon (or two small)
1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish, optional
Lemon slices for garnish, optional
Heat the vegetable oil and butter in a pan on the stove. Brown the chicken thighs skin side down for approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove the chicken thighs and drain on a paper towel. Set them aside.
Place carrots in the bottom of the slow cooker. Combine the chicken broth, lemon juice and zest. Place thighs on top of the carrots and pour the chicken broth mixture over them.
In a small bowl combine the Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika with some salt and pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken thighs. Top them with the garlic and dot them with the diced butter.
Cook on low for 5 hours. Baste the chicken thighs with the lemon butter sauce before removing them from the slow cooker. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley.