For years now fall has meant crazy schedules and dinner grabbed on the run at my house. Scout meetings and sports, classes and activities, keep us on a pretty tight schedule most evenings and even if the family is in the same place at the same time for dinner there is no extra time for making a dinner the way I might in more relaxed seasons.
What is my answer to this challenge? Break out the Crockpot. I have this charming gem of a Crockpot that was a wedding present 20 some odd years ago. It passes for not just old but retro these days and since it still works it still does the cooking on a regular basis during autumn. As the leaves turn orange and gold and begin to gather on the ground beneath the trees my family begins to crave hot hearty meals anyway and my Crockpot is great for that type of meal.
I have always made pot roasts and cooked briskets in my slow cooker but a few years ago I bought “Betty Crocker’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” and expanded my repertoire. One of the first recipes I tried was for a simple version of Thai Chicken. It calls for slow cooking inexpensive chicken thighs in a sauce made from salsa, peanut butter, lime, soy sauce and fresh ginger. The recipe page also included tips and ideas that I continue to follow. It suggest serving the Thai Chicken thighs over Coconut Rice and with a side of Cucumber Vinaigrette.
From "Betty Crocker’s Slow Cooker Cookbook"
8 – 12 chicken thighs, skin removed
¾ cup salsa (hot recommended)
¼ cup peanut butter
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh gingerroot
¼ cup chopped peanuts
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Place the chicken thighs in a 3 ½ - 6 quart slow cooker (mine holds 4 quarts). Mix the remaining ingredients, except the peanuts and cilantro, and pour over the chicken thighs.
Cover and cook on low heat for approximately 8 hours or until chicken thighs are cooked through and tender.
Remove chicken from the slow cooker with a slotted spoon and place on a serving platter.
Remove fat from the sauce remaining in the slow cooker. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle peanuts and cilantro over top and serve with Coconut Rice and Cucumber Vinaigrette.
- The soy sauce can be replaced with fish sauce, if you have it.
- If I am going to be at home I often place the chicken thighs in the slow cooker then cover and cook them for several hours. Then I drain the juice from the slow cooker and add the sauce ingredients to cover the chicken. This makes a thicker sauce and reduces the need to defat before serving.
- To make Coconut Rice I use one can of coconut milk in the liquid called for to cook 2 cups of brown rice. Reduced fat coconut milk can be used and is found at Trader Joe's. I have also used Amy & Brian All Natural Coconut Juice purchased from Whole Foods. It contains no fats and no preservatives and still imparts a sweet coconut taste to the rice.
- To make Cucumber Vinaigrette I simply splashed thinly sliced cucumbers with rice wine vinegar and a little salt and pepper. Many Thai Cucumber Salad recipes contain red onion and hot peppers. There is a recipe that sounds good at