Tuesday, July 24, 2012

crockpot indonesian chicken

Several weeks ago, I stumbled upon this recipe for Crockpot Indonesian Chicken.  I've never made chicken in the crockpot before, so I was excited to try it.  The first time around, I followed the recipe pretty closely, and used three large chicken breasts that had been defrosted.  I cooked the chicken on high for 3 hours and then switched to the warming setting until it was cooked.
okay, so that is a lot of peanut butter
Scott came home and thought it smelled amazing, so he was super excited to eat dinner.  We had the chicken with a side of rice and chowed down.  He turned out to not be a big fan - he said the peanut butter flavor was overwhelming the dish and was too strong/pervasive.  I pretty much agreed - it smelled better than it tasted, and it was a little bland for my taste... granted I didn't add the lime, red pepper flakes, or any sugar as she suggested.  So I had some suggestions for the next time around already, but I also knew I would need to make the peanut butter flavor less pervasive if Scott was going to enjoy it, and I had to try and get the chicken to be less dry.
attempt #1
About a week later, when Scott had to work an evening shift, I decided to try and whip together a new sauce to serve with broccoli as a trial run.  I used x peanut butter, x soy sauce, x rice vinegar, x sesame oil, x garlic powder, x ginger, x cayenne, and x siracha.  I liked the result, but it was definitely too spicy for Scott.
This past week I decided to give the chicken another go.  This time, I started with frozen chicken breasts, figuring they would cook slower and maybe the chicken wouldn't be as dry.  My sauce this time had:
all of the various ingredients i got out to mess around with
- 2 tsp peanut butter
- 2 tsp orange marmalade
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp Spelnda
- 1/8 tsp Siracha
- Sprinkled sesame seeds
attempt #2
fresh green beans!
Tasting the sauce before I mixed it in with the chicken and cooked it, I would have said the peanut butter taste wasn't very strong and it tasted more like a sweet sesame sauce with a kick.  I powered up the crockpot, and since this got a late start, I put it on high for a few hours until we got hungry.  Then I made white rice and steamed fresh green beans (tossed in a little salt, black pepper, and garlic powder), and dinner was served!

dinner time
from another angle
The sauce was much better this time, but I think that somehow cooking it brings out the peanut butter flavor, because it was still the predominate flavor of the dish.  Scott had no complaints about the flavor though, so that was a pro.  Con: The chicken was still dry!  I think perhaps crockpots were not made for cooking chicken, or at least mine was not.  When I cook beef or other meat in there, I sear it first.  I haven't tried searing the chicken first, but that seems like a lot of work for chicken breasts.  I'd much rather just bake the chicken.  In fact, I think that is exactly what I will do next time!

I know it's hard to see, but my glass is an etched University of Maryland glass, to compliment Scott's VT glass :-)  And yes, I know I took an excessive amount of photos of this dinner, but it was our first dinner as a couple in our new place, so I was excited!

Have any of you had success cooking chicken in a crockpot?  If so, how did you do it?

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