“Since hunger is the most primitive and permanent of human wants, men always want to eat, but since their wish not to be a mere animal is also profound, they have always attended with special care to the manners which conceal the fact that at the table we are animals feeding.” - John Erskine

07 September 2011

Creamy Chicken & Potatoes

Have I already mentioned how crazy my life is now that my baby is in kindergarten?  I left the house at 7:50 this morning, spent the morning volunteering at school, grabbed my littlest, had lunch at McDonald’s in Wal-Mart and shopped for a birthday present and milk while they changed the oil.  Now I’m trying to rush this blog post off before running to pick up the rest of my kids, dropping off our carpool, taking my oldest almost back to school for a birthday party (what are they thinking, having a birthday party from 4:30-8:30 on a Wednesday?!?!?), and then rushing home to try to scrape up something for dinner before homework and baths, and then back to almost school again to pick my oldest up from the party.  Whew!  So if you don’t hear from me for a while, I’m off in a crazed-induced coma getting some much needed down time.

Anyway, is it any big surprise that I just shoved a bunch of stuff in the crock pot yesterday and cranked my bread machine to dough for rolls?  (They almost didn’t get done – I was still rolling the dough into rolls to rise when I was supposed to be leaving to pick up kids.)  Not that anyone complained.  They seemed to think it was one of the best dinners ever invented.  So it’s definitely worth trying on those days you know you’ll be running yourself ragged.

Creamy Chicken & Potatoes
serves 6
2 cups peeled baby carrots (half 16-oz. bag)
1 pound red potatoes, each cut into quarters
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed with press
1 cut-up chicken (3½ to 4 lbs.), skin removed from all pieces except wings OR 3½ to 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper
10 ounces frozen peas, thawed
½ cup heavy or whipping cream

In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine carrots, potatoes, onion, and garlic.  Place chicken pieces on top of vegetables.

In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, with fork, mix chicken broth, cornstarch, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper; pour mixture over chicken and vegetables.  Cover slow cooker with lid and cook as manufacturer directs, on low 8 hours or on high 6 hours.

With tongs or slotted spoon, transfer chicken pieces to a warm deep platter.  With slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to platter with chicken pieces.  Cover platter to keep warm.  Stir peas and cream into cooking liquid; heat through.  Spoon sauce over chicken and vegetables on platter.

Ok, by now you know I didn’t exactly follow the recipe, right?  I’ll have to tell you the story of my baby carrots one day when we’re not talking about food.  Needless to say, I did manage to salvage just about 2 cups of them (pitched the rest in the trash, but, again, that’s a story for another day) which I dumped in the bottom of the crock pot.  They were a little fat, so they were still almost crunchy when the rest of the dinner was done, but I like them that way, and the rest of the fam seemed to as well.  Then I took about a pound and a half of potatoes and washed them.  One pound only turned out to be 4 potatoes.  Seemed pretty skimpy.  I quartered most of them, but sixthed (how are you supposed to say that, hexa-ed them?) the ones that were big and dumped them in with their skins on.  My husband doesn’t believe in potato skins, but I was in a hurry and there was no way I was going to peel them.

I have to admit I skipped the onion altogether.  When cooking a stew or something similar I usually just halve an onion and stick it in there (very easy for me to avoid eating) but I didn’t have an onion.  Forgot to add it to my shopping list.  I didn’t even use onion powder, just doubled up on the garlic.  Onion lovers didn’t even know the difference.  Placed about 6 pounds of thawed frozen chicken on top, which only came out to 6 very large chicken breasts.  And now I know why my sauce was so runny.  I decided to add a little extra chicken broth, but I thought the recipe called for 2 cups.  Oh well, the fam seemed to like it runny.  Mixed my broth and corn starch, but was in too much of a hurry to hunt down my time so I resorted to my old standby – you guessed it – season salt.  I even added a little more with the peas because it wasn’t quite salty enough.  Anyway, poured that over the top and turned it on.

When everything was done in the crock, I checked on my rolls and saw that they had actually risen!  Popped them in the oven, and it was time to mix up the peas.  Thought it was kind of stupid to pull everything out of the crock, so I just took out the chicken (the heavy part) and then held the lid on the crock fairly tightly with a couple of hot pads and poured the juice into a cooking pot, putting the chicken back with the veggies in the crock on warm.  Dumped my peas into the juice – they were in a 16 ounce bag, so I just used them all; seamed like the recipe was a little skimpy on the peas – and the cream and stirred until warm.  Had I felt like it I would have added a little more cornstarch to thicken up my thin sauce, but I was tired just didn’t want to.  So I poured all that back over the chicken and veggies in the crock.  Just in time to pull the hot rolls out of the oven, and everything stayed warm in the crock for my late husband while the kids and I ate. 

Totally yum for those of you who like chicken and don’t have a lot of cooking time.  Let me know what you think when you try it.

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