17 May 2011

the easiest one-pot dinner party meal

I am always looking for easy-yet-delicious things to serve when we have people over for dinner, and I'm even more enthusiastic about recipes that can be done completely in advance, in the slow cooker, so that when guests arrive, the kitchen is spotless and no cooking is happening. Then you can focus on them and having a good time instead of half paying attention to what they're saying while you're stressing to finish up dinner.

That's why I was so excited to find this recipe for simple yet amazing chicken puttanesca, which I adapted from Jesse Ziff Cool's One-Pot Cookbook. Not only is it all kinds of easy, but it's super delicious, full of tomato-y and olive-y goodness, with a little kick from crushed red pepper and anchovies.

You can refer to his book to see how to do this on the stove-top, but I love it in the slow cooker. And since I got a new slow cooker for Christmas that features a metal cooking bowl that can go on the stovetop and then onto the slow cooker base, it's truly a one-pot affair.

It's yummy on any kind of pasta, and we've had it on angel hair and on penne.

Perfect for a side of green veggies cooked in an earthy style, like this pan-roasted broccoli.

And your only dish to clean, besides maybe a knife and cutting board, is the slow cooker pot. Sweet.

But best of all, it will make your guests totally happy. Just see how happy Christy and Che look.

Here's how you make it...

Chicken Puttanesca

4 large or 8 small chicken thighs (skin on or off, your choice; you could also use smaller breasts)
14 ounce can of chopped or diced tomatoes
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup or so of roughly chopped kalamata olives
One 2 ounce can of anchovies, chopped, or a healthy squirt of anchovy paste (optional, but highly recommended)
2 T. sugar
1/2 to 1 t. (or more to taste) of crushed red pepper flakes
1 t. dried oregano flakes or 2 t. fresh oregano, minced
2 t. dried parsley or 2 T. fresh parsley, minced
A handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped, or 1 T. dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Pasta of your choice with olive oil

In a large pot or bowl of your slow cooker (if it's metal), cook the chicken in batches in a few tablespoons of olive oil, turning every few minutes, until both sides are browned. Stir in the rest of the ingredients except for the salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and pasta, and cover the pot. If using a slow cooker, cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or low for 4 to 6 hours. If cooking on the stove, cook for 30 to 45 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Salt and pepper to taste. Once it's done, you can keep it on the "keep warm" setting or at the very lowest stove setting for several hours so long as you keep it covered. To serve, toss cooked pasta with olive oil and divide among bowls. Top with chicken and sauce, and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy with a big goofy grin on your face.

(Note: the recipe also calls for capers, but I'm not a fan and so leave them out. If you wish, you can add 1/4 cup of capers, drained, when you add the tomatoes and olives and everything.)

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  1. You're so right: having something easy, tasty and reliable to cook is really important so that you can relax with guests. I like the idea of using the slow-cooker to get most of it done in advance.

  2. I love one pot meals and a slow cooker is definitely a great appliance to own. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.
    Your table settings look great too!

  3. To anyone who might be scared of anchovies: don't be! (at least in this dish) They add a nice depth without standing out.

  4. That looks delicious! Might have to try it out! :)


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