Thursday, December 22, 2016

Adventures in Slow Cooking, Part II: Cream-of-Mushroom Chicken With Broccoli

Gentle reader, for my second-ever foray into slow-cooker cooking, I had the urge to go old-school-Americana with that classic creamy combo of chicken and Campbell’s canned cream of mushroom soup. (I have a perverse taste for this, as evidenced by the Company Chicken recipe.) I checked out a few recipes online, and they were all pretty similar—as Andy Warhol could’ve told you, Campbell’s soup cans do not really lend themselves to variation. I settled on a pretty simple take on it. You just dump all of the following into the cooker:

- 2 big boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sprinkled with garlic powder and paprika. (I did not add salt, figuring the soup mix contained enough sodium.)

- A smattering of diced onion.

- 2 10 1/2-oz. cans of cream of mushroom soup.

- About 1-2 cups of white wine.

Then I panicked and poured in a bunch of water to fully cover the chicken by an inch, because of my paranoia about not adequately covering the chicken and CAUSING THE SLOW COOKER TO EXPLODE AND COMING HOME TO FIND THE BUILDING BURNED DOWN AND DROPPING TO MY KNEES AND SCREAMING “WHAT HAVE I DONE? DEAR GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE?”

Well, it turns out what I did was, I added way too much liquid.

After leaving the cooker on LOW for like 6 hours, I returned home to find that in lieu of the creamy texture I had craved, the chicken—while perfectly pull-apart tender and moist—was in a bathtub of non-thick liquid. (I later cooked down this liquid in a saucepan to make an absolutely lovely gravy.)

I served it over rotini (that would be those spiral noodles) with some broccoli florets that I steamed over boiling water before adding the noodles, and grated Parmesan cheese generously in an effort to thicken up the liquid and add a little more flavor. It was a perfectly nice dish—again, the chicken was quite nicely cooked—but really, it was nothing to blog about. (Oh. Wait.) It would have been much more flavorful, textureful?... had I not paranoically added water.

The leftover chicken, I shredded to put in sandwiches, along with bacon, deli-sliced provolone, and—obvi—mayo, for my man’s lunch. (I had some nice day-old long rolls that I bought for $1 in a precious little cheese-and-overpriced-jars-of-artisanal-crap shop in Park Slope, because I felt uncharacteristically ashamed that it was patently obvious to the clerks I had only come inside to dodge the cold while waiting for the B69 bus and eat all their free cheese samples.) I paired the sandwiches with sour-cream-and-onion potato chips, and you can’t go wrong with a lunch that includes those, cheese, and bacon. So, the lunch probably improved upon the dinner.

Yeah, so, so far both attempts at slow cooking have taught me an important lesson about overcoming my paranoid fears, because then things will be more delicious. But hey, these were only two attempts, and neither meal was actually bad, just one was too dry and one was too liquidy. Perhaps my next effort will be juuuuuust right. (And if I do perfect this one recipe, I will sure blog about it.)

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