RECIPE: Casbah Chicken with Walnut Sauce
I started throwing a whole chicken in a slow cooker last year. I was always hesitant to do it. I prefer roasting a whole bird in the oven. But I quickly warmed up to the cooking technique. It is a super easy way to get a nice, rich protein for your family with little effort. The one thing I don't like about using a slow cooker for chicken is how the chicken looks when it comes out. It also tends to be overdone and falls apart, and doesn't have the nice browning that happens in the oven. So there are some adaptions I have come up with as I perfected cooking chicken in the slow cooker.
One is bringing. Brining pushes salt and water into the muscle so it stays moist and tender as it cooks. The second is flipping the chicken breast down toward the end of cooking time. The third is to brown the pieces of chicken in a pan on high heat in a little oil right before serving. It kind of finishes off the chicken, browns it and you can push together pieces together (the slow cooker makes pieces fall apart). The browning of the skin helps to hold parts together too for serving.
This spice blend is very middle eastern and very subtle. The mint and basil with walnuts cools and enhaces the spices. It's a very unique, fun dish.
Casbah chicken with Walnut Sauce
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
4 pound whole chicken, innards, and neck removed and set aside
1/4 cup salt dissolved in a big bowl of cold water
1 medium onion, cut into half-inch slices
1 quartered lemon
For the rub
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
4 tablespoons of marjoram
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2/3 cups of walnuts
half a cup of mint
1/4 cup of fresh basil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of salt
slaw or chopped salad mix prepared according to package directions (I like the southwest chopped salad at Aldi with this flavor combo)
garlic naan, warmed according to package directions
Brine chicken in salted cold water, enough water to cover the chicken. Brine for 1-2 hours.
Rinse and pat dry.
Lay the bottom of the crockpot with the onions and the neck and organs. Fill the chicken with some quartered lemons. Loosen the skin so you can put your hand under.
Mix the dried spices for the rub with the olive oil, and mix until an oily paste forms.
With the spice rub, spread the past under the skin and over the skin. Place chicken breast side up in the crockpot and cover cook on high for four hours. The last hour turn the chicken upside down so that the breast side is down and will stay moist.
Pull the chicken out gently. In a large saute pan, heat some olive oil. Place the chicken in the heated oil, and brown the chicken pieces on all sides in the pan. Just have a nice brown crust before serving.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Strain a cup of the slow cooker juice with some of the onions (defatted) and added to a small food processor. Add the walnuts, mint, basil and lemon juice. Pulse and blend. Taste and add salt as needed. Pour the sauce into a serving bowl and serve with the chicken pieces, the garlic naan (warmed according to package directions), the prepared slaw or chopped salad and the walnut sauce.