Do you have a slow cooker? I never have, until now. You see, I have these rules…and one that I take very seriously involves kitchen unitaskers. If you think about it, the best kitchen tools are those that do lots of tasks. Like a knife. Best tool. You can use it to cut, peel, scrape, defend yourself…see my logic? You already know I own an old, cracked, food processor and a tragically beaten, refurbished standing mixer and I use them for lots of things. But I shun things like rice cookers and ice cream or yogurt makers. Don’t worry, I won’t lose respect for you if you are the proud owner of an apple corer; I’m just not likely to run out and get one.
I realize it’s a very arbitrary rule and many things (like the mixer) fall into a questionable category. And the slow cooker is one of them. Granted, you can only use it to cook slowly. Or more slowly. But you can use it for lots of different dishes including desserts. And I’ve been curious for years.
Ultimately, I caved when I concluded that neither this winter nor our renovation are ever going to end. We eat one pot meals most nights and both the toaster oven and the hot plate are difficult to regulate. We are trying to be frugal (understatement of the year), but I discovered that I could buy a new, well-rated cooker for less than twenty bucks. Finding an unoccupied electrical outlet in the basement was more of a challenge than purchasing this little appliance! I have now done some experimenting and I think this simple little device is going to be my friend. And if I don’t use it once I have a new kitchen, I know either Megan or Brian will be happy to inherit it!
One last note before I get on to the recipe. Check out my crispy chicken post. Notice the picture of raw chicken? I was ambivalent about including it. I don’t think raw meat is pretty, and I like the blog to be attractive, what with all the nice pots and everything. But I also wanted to show you how to cut the strips of meat. After I published the post, my wonderful daughter appeared to disapprove of that photo, and when I asked her why, she gave me a suggestive look. I didn’t get it. She explained: “vagina.” Well. OK! That takes my favorite hashtag (#foodporn) in a whole ‘nother direction! Maybe not so much with raw chicken in this post!
Slow Cooker Soy Honey Pulled Chicken
I love to use cilantro stems and roots to flavor sauces. I often keep some in the freezer. But if the cilantro you buy is rootless, just mince up stems and leaves instead.
2 packages boneless, skinless chicken thighs (preferably organic)
¼ head cabbage (I like red, but white, savoy or napa are fine), finely shredded
½ can tomato paste (I like Muir Glen organic)
2 scallions, minced
1 tbs. minced fresh or candied ginger
3 tbs. hoisin sauce
1 tsp. asian sesame oil
3 tbs. soy sauce (gf if that is a concern)
2 tbs. honey (optional)
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, washed and dried
pinch hot red pepper flakes
Garnishes: extra minced cabbage, extra sesame oil and/or hoisin, hot sauce or sriracha, peanuts, sesame seeds, scallions, cilantro leaves.
Put the cabbage in the bottom of the cooker insert, then lay the chicken on top. Mix all the rest of the ingredients up to and including honey in a bowl. Pour that over the chicken. Mince up the cilantro stems and a few leaves and put them and some pepper flakes on top.
Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6. Shred the chicken with a pair of forks. Serve.
This is delicious over your favorite grain, noodle, or rice. Or you can make a great sandwich with some sliced pickle and extra cabbage. We like it over arugula salad.