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Smothered Chicken (aka Chicken Etoufee) Cooked in a Slow Cooker

I've found myself cooking a lot of things in the slow cooker (aka crock pot) lately. One dish I really like is smothered chicken. It's a wonderful dish that is truly comfort food. You find it all over the South, and in Louisiana, where the variation there is called 'etoufee' (French for 'smothered').  I've cooked it any number of times in a skillet, but I wanted to try adapting it to the slow cooker. It seemed like a natural for the slow cooker since it cooks for a couple hours in a skillet.

As with a lot of these homestyle recipes, you can adapt and use what you like for ingredients. In this case, I used:

6 bone-in chicken breasts
3 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper
1 onion, chopped
garlic, minced, about 1-2 tbsp
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of potato soup
water - 1/2 to 1 c
about 2 tbsp butter
about 1-2 tbsp oil
seasonings to taste
about 1 c flour
paper bag

Put the flour in the paper bag, and add some salt and pepper (or other seasonings as you like).   Then put each chicken breast in the bag and shake for a few seconds to coat.

I usually use breasts in this dish, but you can also use a whole chicken cut-up, or legs and thighs, you name it.  You're the cook!  However, I don't recommend boneless meat since it will probably get overcooked.

Heat a large skillet (I prefer cast iron but use whatcha got) over medium-high heat.  Melt the butter and add some oil - I used about a tablespoon of oil but your mileage may vary.

We're going to brown the shikken before it goes in the slow cooker.

This entire browing step is optional.  I did it this time because it's part of the traditional method, but for the slow cooker method you could just toss the chicken in the cooker without browning.  You could also remove the skin.  I don't, because I think the cooked skin adds a lot of flavor to the finished dish.

You could also just brown the chicken without dredging it in flour.

Then add your breasts skin side down.  Cover them with a plate, face down.

Then put some weights on the top of the chickens.

I learned this dish from Craig Claiborne's 'Southern Cooking' book.  He says this method of browning the chicken is what makes the chicken 'smothered.'   (You'll see later that it's just part of it).  He says to use about 5 pounds of weight - I use another cast iron skillet.

Brown the shikken for about 20-25 minutes.
When the chicken is nicely browned, turn it over, replace the plate and weight, and cook for about 5-10 more minutes.

While the chicken is browning, you can hack up your vegetables...

 ...and den t'row dem in de slow cooker.

When I cook southern like dis, I talk like a Cajun.  It's from watching Joostan Wilson, I garontee.

You got to read it wit de same accent.

When the shikken is browned, but it in the slow cooker on top of the vegetables.  Then pour the cream-of-soups on the chicken.  I thought the whole mixture was a little thick, so I added about 2/3 of a cup of water.  I should have used chicken stock probably, and I will next time.

Cook the chicken for 6-8 hours on low.  When it's done, it should be very tender and beginning to fall off the bone.

The traditional accompaniment is rice.

I used the honorable Zojirushi NS-ZCC0-10 rice cooker to cook de rice.  You hafta do a little bow and say "honorable Zojirushi" in a Japanese accent when you use it so it cooks good.

The finished dish.  There is a chicken breast in there somewhere.

You can see why the Cajuns call this 'etoufee.'

Now that's eating!


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