The Misadventures of David Crockpott

I know, I know, this thing with naming my appliances is truly weird. But after three days in the box, Dave has been broken out and put to use. What was the flagship dish?

Slow-Cooked Chicken and Vegetables, à la I Have No Freakin' Clue

I picked this dish because 1) I had all this chicken left over from when I'd made chicken chili on Sunday; and 2) I had found this selection of totally adorable baby carrots at DeCicco's. I mean, look at them, aren't they swell? 

I'm something of a carrot connoisseur. I grow tons of them in my garden and in all different colors. I was thrilled to find these. DeCicco's so has my number.

Besides the carrots, I had in the fridge some dubious-looking celery (is there any other kind?) and portobello mushrooms. In the pantry was a head of garlic and half a bag of Trader Joe's red, white and blue baby potatoes. In the freezer was a bag of Birds Eye pearl onions. I was in business.

I took a break from working around 10 and got busy.  I prepped all the veggies and fed them to Dave first - half the bag of onions, followed by celery sliced on the diagnol, leaves and all. Mushrooms and potatoes washed and quartered.  Carrots trimmed and peeled. You'll see from the picture that purple carrots are purple through-and-through, while red carrots are only red on the surface; once peeled, they will be orange so either scrub them lightly, or leave a little skin in places to get the effect.

My plan was to add a half cup of white wine and then use chicken broth to just cover the veggies.  But shame on me, no white wine in the house. So I added the juice from one lemon, and then topped it up with broth. I put some thyme and rosemary stems on top, and then sliced 4 cloves of garlic and scattered those on top too.

Then the chicken.  I had boneless, skinless breast and thigh pieces.  I put the thighs on top of the veggies as is, then quartered each breast and put that in. Then I hesitated...something was needed here...I was totally flying blind, making it up. Salt and pepper, OK, some of each. And...garlic powder?  Paprika? I already had sliced garlic down in the veggies, I didn't want to overdo it. In the end I just tapped the garlic powder and paprika bottles over the chicken, just a light dusting.

(This doesn't end well)

The cover went on, Dave got plugged in. I hit the HIGH setting for 6 hours.  Wait, that can't possibly be right. I did some quick consulting online, and selected LOW for 8 hours instead. Done, done and done. 20 minutes of prep time. I poured another cup of coffee, left the kitchen and went back to work.

I was consumed with curiosity and kept creeping upstairs to see what Dave was doing. After the fourth time, he patiently and politely told me to get lost.

What, your small appliances don't talk to you? Odd...

I managed to get lost for two whole hours, then I went upstairs to poke in there with a wooden spoon. First thing I noticed was a very intense rosemary smell, followed by the observation that the cooking liquid had not only risen considerably, but had turned purple from the carrots. I put the cover back and retreated.

Four hours into cooking, I ventured up again to peek. Not looking good. At all. Quite possibly the most unattractive thing I had ever produced in a kitchen to date. Clearly Dave hated me. Or Wolfie, in a jealous rage, had sabotaged things.

The broth looked like squid ink. The chicken pieces looked dried out. My sweet baby carrots were completely leached of color and the potatoes and mushrooms looked decidedly ill.  The dish looked ill. I was going to be ill. I would have to create a new blog category called "Kitchen Disasters" and this was going to be the first tag. I fled the kitchen, an abject failure.

(I've been taking drama lessons from Pandagirl)

I regrouped and decided that no matter what, the chicken would be salvageable. It would've been poached for eight hours in broth, veggies and aromatics, it ought to be edible, for crying out loud.

At 5:00 I declared it done and pulled the plug.

"What is that?" cried Panda with all the charming couth that ten-year-olds naturally possess.

 Boooooo!

Boooooo!

"Army slop," I replied, and fished a piece of dark meat chicken out to taste.  It tasted wonderful. I fished a piece of white meat out. It was slightly less wonderful, but not bad. It didn't taste bad, it just looked bad. In 8 hours I had achieved tender, flavorful meat, pallid vegetables, and some killer, purplish broth.

"Are you going to blog this?" Panda asked.

"I am not only going to blog this," I answered, "I am going to save this."

I started sorting the crockpot. 

(That's the weirdest sentence I ever typed.) 

I picked out the thyme and rosemary stems. I put the chicken in one dish, all the veggies in another. I strained the broth into a clean soup pot. I put it on a medium-low flame, then peeled and sliced six new, normal orange carrots.  When the broth was boiling, the carrots went into the pot along with some of the leftover frozen pearl onions and 1/2 cup of orzo.

P1050359
P1050359

When the pasta was cooked and the carrots were tender, I separated three eggs and slid the yolks into the broth (my dad taught me this; he in turn learned it from the days when his mother's kosher chicken came with unfertilized eggs—the ayelekh—still inside the hen). After the yolks poached I put the chicken back in, some dill, some fresh parsley, some peas.

There you have it, the name of this recipe is now changed to:

Eight Hour Purple Chicken Soup.

Serve it with a $5 milkshake. And then go save your street cred by making dessert.