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Slow and easy

Agriculture.com Staff 02/17/2008 @ 11:00pm

Slow cookers are an amazing invention. Place several ingredients in one pot, let them simmer for several hours, and voila -- you have an incredible meal! Not only do you get a complete dinner, but there's only one pot to clean up. It's as simple as that.

Slow cookers aren't a new invention. They've been around since the early 1970s when Rival introduced the Crock-Pot, which is the trademarked name for this kitchen appliance. But like most trends, it seemed to lose popularity and got pushed to the back of the pantry.

As today's busy families look for ways to do things quicker and easier, the slow cooker is being dusted off and is finding its rightful place back on the kitchen counter.

The three chicken recipes that follow are from the Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Chicken Recipes. One chapter in this cookbook features over 50 recipes for your slow cooker.

So pull out that slow cooker, toss in some ingredients, and come back in a few hours to a delicious meal.

Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 4 to 5 hours on high-heat setting

Nonstick cooking spray
2 tablespoons finely shredded lemon peel
1 tablespoon ground sage
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
8 small whole chicken legs (drumstick and thigh) skinned and fat removed (5 pounds)
1/4 cup butter
4 cups quartered or sliced fresh crimini, baby portobello, shiitake, and/or button mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 cups sourdough baguette cut into 1-inch pieces (12 to 14 ounces)
1 cup coarsely shredded carrot
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup snipped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Step 1: Lightly coat the inside of a 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside 1 teaspoon of the lemon peel. In a small bowl combine the remaining 5 teaspoons lemon peel, the sage, seasoned salt, and pepper. Remove three quarters of the sage mixture; sprinkle over chicken legs, and rub in with your fingers. Place chicken in prepared slow cooker.

Step 2: Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and garlic; cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes or just until tender. Stir in remaining sage mixture. In a large bowl combine bread cubes and carrot; add mushroom mixture. Drizzle with chicken broth, tossing gently.

Step 3: Lightly pack bread mixture on top of chicken. Cover and cook on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.

Step 4: Using a slotted spoon, transfer bread mixture and chicken to a serving platter; discard juices in slow cooker.

Step 5: In a small bowl combine reserved lemon peel, walnuts, and parsley; sprinkle over chicken and bread mixture. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition facts per serving: 412 calories, 17 g fat, 146 mg cholesterol, 1,450 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 39 g protein.

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 to 6 hours on low-heat setting

Nonstick cooking spray
10 3/4-ounce can condensed cream of chicken with herbs soup
8 ounces dairy sour cream
6 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
28-ounce package frozen loose-pack diced hash brown potatoes with onion and peppers, thawed
3 cups chopped smoked or roasted chicken or turkey (about 1 pound)
Crushed croutons (optional)

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