Slow cooker chicken dinner.
You know how sometimes you start a project without realizing just how involved it's going to be, but then once you've started you can't stop? That's this dinner.
In response to my pathetic whining all the time about being rushed in the evenings, my mother tactfully presented me with a new slow cooker cookbook.
I looked through it last weekend. It's a beautiful book, filled with artistic pictures and the earnest insistence that Crock Pot cooking is not careless or sloppy. The author believes it can be just as delicious and even artful as the best cooking, as long as you choose your ingredients carefully and do the right prep work. Maybe I should have sensed that the author's goals and my goals for a slow cooker are not the same.
Immediately, I saw several recipes I wanted to try, and I vowed to be organized enough to put up dinner in the slow cooker at least once this week. (That's the thing about the Crock Pot. You have to put food in it in the morning, or even the night before, which means you have to think far ahead of when you want to eat it. Is the meat defrosted? Are the vegetables in the fridge not rotten? Is it safe to chop onions before you've had your coffee?)
Anyhow, I went and bought the ingredients for the chicken dinner recipe: chicken parts, potatoes, carrots, onion, celery. Then, I figured, on Thursday morning before work, I could assemble them in the crock, and we would all come home, at our various times, to a lovely dinner.
I should have known when Step One was "make a spice rub" and the recipe emphatically suggested pre-boiling the potatoes. (Why, when they're going to boil for the next eight hours, I have no idea.) But I had already unwrapped the chicken, which was approaching a week in the fridge anyway. Too late to stop, I thought.
So I stupidly pressed on and forty minutes later, there I was in my dress, with my apron on, browning chicken and vegetables, watching the clock. Slow cooking indeed. I grew resentful as I cooked. Is there any point at all to a kitchen convenience device if using it is wildly inconvenient? (Deanna came over to watch Eli and about burst out laughing when she saw me. Working hard to keep a straight face: "Do you usually wear an apron?" Oh dear.)
At least there was an upside.
The flavors were delicious, the chicken and veggies were tender, and the cooking liquid reduced into a rich gravy.
But maybe the slow cooker is best for busy weekends, when you have the mornings to set the thing up.