Chicken Divine (in the slow-cooker!)

Yeah, no, that's not a typo. This is not your average chicken divan, it's Chicken Divine, people. It's cheesy and starchy and warm, and even though I lightened up the America's Test Kitchen recipe, it's decadent. If you wanted to mess around with this and try the pre-cooked brown rice from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, you could, but I wonder if it'd be starchy enough. But me? I'm not going to bother. Because the alchemy of the instant white rice (yes, you read that right, had to make a special trip to Stah Mahket for that one) and the sauce and the cheese . . . well, you better hustle up to make this before the thermometer slides back up to 50, 'cause what we have here, folks, is certified winter comfort food. Just enjoy it.

Chicken Divine (adapted from the America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution Cookbook)

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. dried thyme
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup 1/2 and 1/2
1 t. dry mustard
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of all visible fat
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 c. instant rice (such as Uncle Ben's)
1 c. grated cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese (1 oz.)
1 lb. broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces

 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and the thyme and cook until the onion is translucent. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and smoothing out any lumps. Transfer to the slow cooker.

Stir the 1/2 and 1/2 and the dry mustard into the mixture in the slow cooker. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and add it to the slow cooker, coating it evenly with the sauce. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Break up the chicken into bite-sized pieces with a spoon (don't be over-zealous - the chicken will break up more as you stir in the other ingredients). Stir in the rice and cheeses, cover, and cook on high until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.

Microwave the broccoli in a covered glass dish, stirring occasionally, until tender; about 3 minutes total. At this point, you can either 1) stir the broccoli into the casserole, re-cover the slow-cooker and let stand until heated through (about 5 minutes); or 2) serve up some broccoli-free casserole for your veg-haters (you KNOW who you are) and then serve up casserole atop broccoli for those of the veg persuasion.

Serves 4 generously.

A note: Fear not the 5 cloves of garlic. Remember, the slow-cooker dumbs everything down, flavor-wise. Neither D. nor I would describe this as garlicky at all, just flavorful. Besides, garlic and onions are GREAT for your immune system, and it is winter, after all.