I'm always baffled by the slow cooker and how it actually cooks things, and cooks them well every single time. I don't have that particular consistency, that's for sure. The tool is ridiculously useful, and every time I use it I think to myself that I should use it MORE, dummy. And then I get distracted with online shopping and forget. Which is fine.
What I especially love about tomatoes in the crock pot is that they actually get better the longer they're in there - kind of briney and tangy, like you used wine in the sauce when you didn't, which is handy. This "recipe" involves a little bit of chopping but other than that you just toss everything into the Crock Pot and call it a day, which is one of my criteria for using the slow cooker - what's the point if you have to brown the meat first? May as well just slow-cook using the oven on a low temperature, which is what effing slow cooking is, anyway.
So let's forget about browning food and make this instead!
You need chicken, chicken bouillon (not stock, since we don't want to add extra liquid to the mix), chicken breasts (frozen! start with frozen!), carrots, onion, garlic, celery, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. You could also use the same quantity of crushed tomatoes or all diced, etc, but I like the flavor of the sauce and the texture of the diced. And it's my party so there.
As prep, dice all of the veggies. I like to do this pretty finely so that when you shred the chicken it kind of blends in with the veggies. But, just cut the veggies all about the same shape and size so they cook evenly.
Then, we just dump everything in the slow cooker! Make a layer of veggies....
Then, use two forks to shred the chicken right in the sauce. At this point the sauce is kind of watery, but we'll fix that, don't worry. The level of moisture in your sauce will depend on how much water you got from the chicken and the veggies, too, so yours might not look exactly like this.
Taste the sauce, and add salt and pepper to your taste. Then, the sauce is ready! If it's still a little thin for your liking, turn the slow cooker to high and let the sauce cook uncovered for 30 more minutes or so to evaporate some of the liquid and thicken the sauce. If the sauce ever gets too thick, just splash in a tiny bit of water to bring it back to life.
Slow Cooker Chicken Ragout
- ⅔ pound frozen chicken breasts boneless and skinless, or equal amounts chicken tenderloins
- 1 medium carrot or handful baby carrots finely chopped
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 ribs celery finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 cube chicken bouillon
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 14 ounces diced tomatoes in their juices
- salt and pepper to taste
- cooked pasta optional, for serving
- parmesan and fresh basil optional, for garnish
- In a slow cooker, layer the vegetables, bouillon cube, chicken breasts, and tomatoes. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours until the chicken is cooked through. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken in the sauce and stir to combine. Taste the sauce, and add salt and pepper to your preference.
- At this point, the sauce is ready to serve. If it seems a bit watery, turn the heat to high and leave the slow cooker UNCOVERED for 30 minutes or so to thicken the sauce. Re-cover the sauce and keep warm until ready to serve.
- Serve with pasta, bread, parm, and basil. Enjoy!