This is the time of year when I’m usually trying to figure out if this is the coldest, longest winter that I can remember in Texas. I know it’s not… and it really was barely 2 months ago that I was whining about the lack of a real fall in Texas. But it’s cold. For Texas. And that sends us running for soup and chili and stew.
One of our favorite meals in rotation right now is this Chicken & Sausage Stew. It’s one of my favorites because 94% of the work is done before noon – an awesome thing since I seem to be impressively unmotivated these days. The two picky-ish eaters in the house usually go back for seconds. Voluntarily. For a dish that has the word “stew” and spinach in it.
That’s probably because it doesn’t fall into that “it tastes like every other stew that comes from the crockpot” category. I really hate that category.
I lightened up the recipe a bit by reducing the flour and using low-fat chicken broth and 95% fat-free smoked turkey sausage. It still makes a nice and hearty stew perfect for a busy, cold day.
And the 3 days after that.
Slow-Cooker Chicken & Sausage Stew
A lighter, hearty stew perfect for a busy, cold day.
2 lbs chicken (I used a mixture of boneless breasts & thighs)
1 Tbsp olive oil
14 oz light smoked turkey sausage, 1/2-inch rounds cut in half
2 large onions, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth)
3 cups low-sodium/reduced-fat chicken broth, plus more as needed
2 bay leaves
2 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
Parmesan, for serving
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and transfer (in batches) to the skillet to sear ~2-3 minutes on each side.
Transfer the seared chicken to the slow cooker.
Reduce heat just a bit and pour off all but 1 Tbsp of fat from the skillet (add additional olive oil if necessary) and add the onions.
Cook just until beginning to brown, ~5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and cook 1 more minute.
Stir in the flour and cook for 1 more minute.
Slowly whisk in the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Whisk in 1 cup of the broth until smooth and then transfer to the slow cooker.
Add the remaining 2 cups of broth, the bay leaves, and the cannellini beans. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 4-6 hours on low.
Remove the chicken and shred/cut into small pieces and return to the slow cooker.
Discard the bay leaves and skim off any fat on the surface.
Stir in the spinach and sausage, cover, and let cook another 10 minutes to warm through.
Additional broth can be added to stretch the stew or adjust consistency, if necessary.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with grated parmesan.
For those of you who’ve stopped by here a time or two, or have seen me clog your Twitter feed on a non-bye-week Sunday, you know I’m a big Texans fan. So it’s always a bit awkward and confusing when I have to launch into the “I’ve actually been a Colts fan for the last 15 years” story.
But that magical division realignment pitted my new Texans and my old-ish Colts against each other twice a year (and maybe 3!) in one of the happiest football-related things to ever happen to me. I always (try) to root for the home team.
With the abundance of winter citrus, we picked up a mountain of 5/$1 tangerines and turned several of those into a fun, seasonal twist on the classic pulled pork to christen the new Crock-Pot. A pork roast is slow cooked with tangerine juice, soy sauce, and spices and then the cooking liquid is reduced with more tangerine juice for a citrusy glaze. It’s sweet meets savory meets easy gameday eats.
The Crock-Pot isn’t just a lifesaver during the week, but it’s perfect for tailgating – pulled pork, chili, queso, and fancy meatballs go from counter-to-tent super easily. You can snag a Crock-Pot with your favorite NFL logo and impress the heck out of your tailgate-mates. Or upload a custom design and create a one-of-a-kind Crock-Pot!
Tangerine Pulled Pork with Thai Plum Barbecue Sauce
Pulled pork gets a seasonal gameday makeover with fresh tangerines.
For the roast:
1 large pork shoulder or roast (~7-8 lbs for a crowd)
1/2 cup tangerine juice (3-4 tangerines, 1 rind reserved and sliced thinly)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 garlic clove, smashed
Pinch of crushed red pepper
For the glaze:
2 cups of cooking liquid
1/2 cup tangerine juice
1/2 tangerine rind, sliced thinly
Brown sugar (optional)
For the barbecue sauce:
1/4 cup purchased Thai Plum Sauce
1/2 cup purchased barbecue sauce
Place the roast in the crockpot with the tangerine juice, rind, soy sauce, brown sugar, red pepper, and garlic.
Cook on low 8-10 hours, until the meat is fall-apart tender.
Transfer 2 cups of cooking liquid (fat skimmed from top) to a medium saucepan and add the orange juice and tangerine rind.
Reduce for ~20 minutes over high heat until down to ~3/4 cup and then remove the rind.
Shred the pork roast and place in a large bowl or serving dish and pour the reduction over top, tossing to coat.
In a small bowl, mix the plum and barbecue sauces together and warm in the microwave.
For sandwiches, pile a generous scoop of pulled pork on top of a split roll and top with a spoonful of barbecue sauce.
Hey, look. It’s another super easy way to use up leftover cranberry sauce. And it only involves a little math:
1 part barbecue sauce
1 part cranberry sauce
3. Watch your husband dip a tester sweet potato fry in it and complain about it being too cranberry-y.
4. Add another part barbecue sauce.
7. Get approval from the barbecue sauce snob in the house.
8. Spoon it over pulled pork sandwiches. Or turkey sandwiches! And use the rest as a dipper for sweet potato fries.
9. Eat too much.
10. Declare the entire house a carb-free, lean-protein-only zone ’til Christmas.
11. Forget and eat a brownie for dessert.