In Which We Have a Guest

In fact, in which we have two guests – one houseguest and one dinner guest. But this is more about the dinner guest, though I will say that having a coffee table made out of two futons comes in handy for the unexpected (though of course happily welcomed) weekender.

This was our first dinner guest besides my parents, who would love me no matter what we cooked for them, and the menu was:

Slow Cooker Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Whole Wheat Sourdough Toast
Molten Dark Chocolate Brownie Cake

And, of course, wine, which our guest (we’ll call him E) brought!

The menu gave us our first opportunity to utilize our slow cooker, which in my opinion is an awesome piece of equipment:

Chicken in the Slow Cooker

Dinner slow-cooking away!

I love anything that lets you throw a bunch of ingredients in a pot and pull out dinner three hours later. The chicken and garlic were yummy – amazingly tender chicken and soft garlic, perfect for spreading on crusty bread.

Dessert was, in my mind, less of a success – I don’t think our guests would say so (it was still a moist, yummy chocolate brownie cake), but I expected something a bit more molten in the center. Perhaps I overcooked it? Either way, it looked nice:

Molten Dark Chocolate Brownie Cake

Dessert!

And we had a great time, which is what having guests for dinner is all about!

Slow Cooker Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Adapted from Food & Wine: The Magazine’s Annual Cookbook 2011.

We skipped the saffron on this slow-cooker dish, mostly because it is too frickin’ expensive for two newly independent recent college grads. We also only used four chicken thighs, and I forgot to buy skinless, which meant I had to skin them myself (Buy skinless. Seriously.). I also accidentally used scallions instead of leeks. None of these things, however, made the dish any less good – the only thing I would have changed is maybe to skip the olives, which gave a distinctly strong olive-y taste to the dish. Of course, I also used a different variety of olives…

Yield: 4-6 servings

1/2 cup dry white wine
Large pinch of saffron threads [Optional]
6 skinless chicken drumsticks
6 skinless chicken thighs (bone-in) [We used 4.]
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts only, coarsely chopped [Or 4-6 scallions.]
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/4 cup sweet sherry
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large heads of garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves, or 40 cloves
2/3 cup Niçoise & picholine olives [We used a kalamata mix.]
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Toasted buttered bread, for serving

Pour 1/4 cup of the white wine into a small bowl. Crumble in the saffron and let stand for 5 minutes. On a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle the saffron wine over the chicken; rub it in and let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt the butter. Add the leeks and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and the remaining 1/4 cup of white wine. Simmer for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and sherry and bring to a boil. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the slow cooker. Nestle in the garlic cloves. Cover and cook on high heat for 2 1/2 hours, shifting the chicken and garlic around a few times, until the chicken is cooked through and the garlic is soft. Add the olives, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the chicken stew in shallow bowls, with toasted bread for dunking (and for spreading garlic on).

Make Ahead: The stew can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.

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