I hope you all won’t judge me for posting another slow cooker recipe. I promise I’m not going to turn into one of those “dump a bunch of cans of stuff into the slow cooker and forget about it” bloggers. I’m not here to bring you processed, gooey, overcooked glop. Yuck. None of us wants that, right?
This recipe is for your slow cooker, but it still requires some sautéing and chopping. You’ve got to boil the cooking liquid to reduce it into a sauce. I’m okay with that. It makes me feel like I still actually cooked dinner. Weird, I know. If you have a slow cooker that adjusts to sauté and boil, you can take care of everything except the tapenade in the insert. If not, you just need one extra pan and one pot. No biggie.
I made only very minor changes to this recipe. The original called for a whole chicken, cut into pieces, skin left on. My family isn’t big on dark meat or skin that isn’t uber crispy, so I used boneless skinless chicken breasts instead. The result was still very good, but a little drier than I would’ve liked; I could’ve reduced the cooking time by half an hour. I’ve noted the adjustments in the recipe below. Next time, I’ll watch my time and try bone-in breasts to keep the meat even moister. And there will be a next time. A dish this flavorful and rich and easy totally deserves a next time.
Slow Cooker Provençal Chicken
For the chicken:
6 boneless or bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed, or 1 chicken (about 3 1/2 lbs.) cut into pieces
salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.
freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
2 TBSP olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1/2 c. dry white wine (Use a wine you like to drink so you can have it with dinner!)
1/2 c. chicken stock
For the fig and olive tapenade:
1 c. pitted mild green olives, such a Lucques or Picholine
1 c. pitted black olives, such as Nicoise
2 dried brown figs, stemmed and chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. brandy
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
4 c. baby arugula
1. Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Season generously with salt and pepper. In your slow cooker or a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 TBSP olive oil. Working in batches, if necessary, sear off the chicken pieces, turning once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a plate.
2. Skim off most of the fat. Keeping the temperature at medium-high, add the onion and bay leaves and sauté until the onions are golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tarragon, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, and desired amount of black pepper. Pour in the wine and stock then stir to scrape brown bits from the bottom of the pan. If using a pan, transfer sauce to slow cooker and place the chicken on top. Cover and cook on low 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the chicken is cooked through but still tender.
3. Meanwhile, make the tapenade by combining all ingredients in a food processor and pulsing to form a chunky mixture.
4. When cooked, transfer chicken to a plate and tent loosely with foil. Remove bay leaves from braising liquid and, if using a slow cooker that doesn’t adjust to boil, strain the liquid into a small saucepan. Otherwise, strain liquid, return to slow cooker, and set to boil. Boil liquid over high heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
5. To serve, drizzle arugula with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Divide chicken among warmed plates and drizzle with braising liquid. Top each serving with a large spoonful of tapenade. Sprinkle arugula over top of the chicken or place alongside alongside. Serve immediately.