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Slow-Cooker Braised Apricot Chicken with Carrots

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Serves 4

  • by from Year-Round Slow Cooker

This flavorful stew is delicious served over couscous or brown rice pilaf with fresh cilantro or parsley. Feel free to use oil for the butter.

  • Zest of 1 lemon (yellow part only)
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄3- by 2-inch pieces
  • 30 whole dried apricots (preferably with sulfur, for a pretty color)
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1⁄8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1⁄8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1⁄8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 20 grinds black pepper
  • 2-1⁄2 lb. bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (about 8 thighs)
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2-1⁄4 cups finely chopped white onions (about 2 small)
  • 1-1⁄2 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 cup apricot nectar, such as Looza
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh-squeezed, strained lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1⁄4 cup toasted pine nuts, for garnish (optional)
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, parsley, or mint leaves, for garnish (optional)
Tip:
To adapt a slow-cooker recipe to a conventional oven, follow these guidelines: add more liquid, to accommodate for greater evaporation; bring the dish to a boil over high heat in a Dutch oven, then cover the pot and put in a 350°F oven. Plan on the dish taking roughly half the time to cook in the oven as it would in the slow cooker.

Place the lemon peel on a piece of cheesecloth, form into a “purse,” and secure with kitchen twine. Add it to the slow cooker, along with the carrots and apricots. Place the flour and all of the spices in a large bowl and mix well. Add the chicken and coat well, shaking off the excess and reserving any remaining flour.

Heat 1 Tbs. of oil and the butter in a 10-inch sauté pan over medium high heat. When the butter is melted, brown the chicken in two batches, about 11 minutes total; add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil if the pan becomes dry. Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker.

Add the onions and garlic to the hot pan, and cook until the onions are softened, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and reserved flour and whisk well until the flour disappears, about a minute. Add the nectar, lemon juice, and stock; bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then pour the sauce over the chicken in the slow cooker. Submerge the chicken.

Cover and cook on low until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender, 5 to 6 hours. Serve, garnishing each portion with nuts and herbs, if desired.

Photo: Andrew Hugh Purcell

I made this last night and it turned out wonderfully! Because of the ingredients I had on hand, I substituted tomato sauce for the paste and good apple cider for the nectar and the texture and flavor of the sauce still turned out very nice. I served it on top of couscous with sliced almonds, raisins and parsley. I will definitely make this again!

So flavorful, and such a reward after a long day! This recipe is a keeper!

This recipe turned out really well -- the dried apricots made the sauce nice and sweet, but not saccharin. The chicken was tender and flavorful.

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