In addition to working full time in real estate trying to keep her two girls in shoes (and hair accessories), my step sister, Meagan, volunteers for several charities, manages to get her kids to hither and yon for various activities, and always has on a fantastic pair of heels. She’s busy. And like most of us, finds getting dinner on the table (again and again) a mighty task. Recently, she told me she bought a slow cooker months ago but hasn’t cracked open the box; she needs a little guidance on the subject. Indeed, Meagan is one of many moms who’ve been asking for crock pot advice and recipes since I started this blog.
I didn’t have much in the way of either since I’ve been a little slow to the crock pot table. The few times I’ve played around with the thing, it was borrowed from a friend. Frankly, since my kitchen is effectively my office, I haven’t felt the need. It’s easy for me to let something bubble on the back of the stove in my giant cast iron pot (which I’ve always sort of considered my slow cooker anyway) while I work on some other cooking or writing project.
But knowing how many moms rely on slow cookers and are seeking good recipes, I thought I’d finally commit. I bought a basic Crock Pot brand version and have been putting it work ever since. I have to say, I get the appeal: throw all of your ingredients in, flip the switch, come home to a warm meal. Done. It’s feel a little bit like magic.
It’s no wonder crock pots are so popular. Whether you are the mom running after a toddler all day, or the one running out the door for the office (or just don’t want to fuss in the kitchen), the slow cooker makes it (practically) effortless to get family dinner from fridge to table. And really nourishing food thrives in the crock pot, notably beans, legumes, and sturdy vegetables.
Since I’m forging new territory here, I asked a few moms whom I know are crock pot die hards for their favorite resources and recipes. One friend handed me a copy of Make it Fast, Cook it Slow by Stephanie O’Dea, a gal who committed to cooking out of her crockpot for an entire year, and chronicled it with recipes here.
I figured a year of slow cooking? She’s got to know her craft. Today’s recipe is hers, with a few tiny tweaks of my own. Vietnamese Chicken may sound sort of exotic for the preschool set, but the only prerequisite is a fondness for soy sauce. If bok choy is new to you, I wrote about it in this post a while back. Feel free to use another vegetable or two instead, and just adjust the cooking time accordingly: any dark leafy greens, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, you name it.
When I emailed Stephanie to ask permission to use her recipe, shes graciously offered to donate her newest book, More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow for a giveaway. How sweet is that? Leave a comment below today’s post sharing your favorite crock pot eats and you’ll automatically be entered to win the book (giveaway ends Sunday October 2nd, midnight PST).
I served Vietnamese Chicken with brown basmati rice and a little side dish of sliced cucumbers and red onions doused with seasoned rice wine vinegar. My kids loved the dinner, and it made a great leftover lunch for me the next day.
Vietnamese Slow Cooker Chicken with Baby Bok Choy
• 6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
• 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
• 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce*
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 4 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar. divided
• 1 ½ pounds baby bok choy
Lay the chicken thighs in the slow cooker with the fleshier side facing down. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, fish sauce, black pepper, garlic, canola oil, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar. Pour over the chicken, put on the lid, and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours. The time may vary a little depending on the size of the chicken thighs.
When the chicken is nearly done, cut the heads of baby bok choy in half down the center and remove the little wedge of core. Roughly chop the bok choy and wash thoroughly. Five or 10 minutes before the cooking time is up, remove the chicken from the pot. Stir the second tablespoon of brown sugar into the sauce and add the bok choy, immersing it in the cooking liquid. Set the chicken back in the pot on top of the bok choy and replace the lid. Set the pot to high and cook until the bok choy is tender (about 8 minutes or so). Serve.
* Fish sauce, also known as Nuoc Cham or Nam Pla, is available in the Asian section of most supermarkets
Adapted from Make it Fast, Cook it Slow by Stephanie O’Dea.