It’s that time of year again. The sun has a kiss of heat. The birds are singing. The flowers are blooming. And your nose can’t. Stop. Running.
For about a week a year, I’m knocked out by allergies and the last thing I want to do is cook. You might think of slow cookers as a winter tool -- stews and casseroles and all that. But I find the slow cooker useful when I’m sick, too.
Slow cookers have a tendency to create murky flavors, but not so with the savory miso, sharp ginger, and assertive garlic. Between the three, they’re enough to make you forget about your stuffed nose and make you feel normal again.
Miso ginger slow cooker chicken is actually the most popular recipe on my blog. Here's the original post. It doesn’t even have real measurements! So this time around, I’m getting more detailed but keeping the same spirit. No cheffy flourishes. No pre-heating or fussing. Just a quick make-ahead dinner you can prepare in the time it takes to make your coffee.
2 lbs air-chilled chicken thighs and/or drumsticks
1 to 3 inch ginger knob (less if you want a milder flavor, more if you want to bring the heat)
1 head of garlic
3 tablespoons miso
Peel and finely chop ginger. Peel and finely chop garlic. Mix miso with enough hot water to loosen it up, about 3 tablespoons. Add chopped ginger and garlic and mix.
Add chicken to slow cooker. Coat with miso mixture. Cook on low for 8 hours.
Taste the sauce. Depending on how watery your chicken was, you may want to reduce and concentrate the sauce. To do so, place the chicken in a separate bowl and add the sauce to a saucepan. Simmer on low until reduced. Re-mix sauce with chicken and serve.
TIPS & TRICKS
Why air-chilled? Unless otherwise noted, all chicken is water-chilled, meaning it was dunked in cold vats of water, resulting in diluted, watery meat. Air-chilling uses no additional liquid, meaning a stronger flavor and better textured meat. Air-chilled is a great way to go all the time, but especially for slow cooking. When sauteing or roasting, excess liquid can escape as steam. But in a slow cooker, the steam is trapped, so a water-chilled chicken will quickly go from water-logged to water-drowned.
For a complete meal, add some veg to the sauce as you reduce it. I like enoki mushrooms, bok choy, or even broccoli. You can also do this if your sauce is too salty. Noodles (or zoodles) would also make a great addition.
Boneless dark meat is okay. I accidentally bought boneless chicken thighs, even though the “rule” is to only slow-cook meat on the bone because the bone helps keep the meat moist. Well, you know what? The sauce and moisture from the chicken kept the chicken moist. It all worked out, so don’t sweat bone/boneless -- as long as you use dark meat.