There’s nothing better than a good slow-cooker meal on lazy Sundays or busy weekdays! In addition to these two, this is a new favorite. I made this smothered chicken on Sunday and my whole family devoured it. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and the sauce was rich and flavorful. I love finding comforting slow-cooker meals that are naturally gluten-free! This dish requires cooking bacon and browning the meat before starting the slow-cooker, but is well worth the effort. It is delicious served with rice or any kind of potato to soak up the delicious sauce.
You can make this dish with any bone-in chicken pieces you like. I think it would be delicious with chicken thighs or breasts. I have come to love dark-meat chicken because it is moist, flavorful, and holds up wonderfully during slow-cooking. Dark-meat chicken also rich in nutrients like iron and zinc.
I think the world is finally waking up to the idea that fat isn’t the enemy when it comes to food (hint: it’s refined sugars and carbohydrates). Still I was raised in the 90s and low-fat yogurt, margarine, and chicken breasts were part of the tastes of my childhood. Dark-meat chicken just wasn’t something we had as much. But my days of shying away from butter, egg yolks, and dark-meat poultry are gladly over. I cut way back on sugar and refined flours, but embrace the deliciousness of these higher-fat foods. Plus my 3-year-old is a huge fan of drumsticks or “meat on a bone” as he calls it!
- 5 pieces bacon
- 4-5 pounds bone-in chicken drumsticks, remove the skin (any bone-in chicken should work)
- 2 yellow onions, peeled, halved and sliced into half moons
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock/broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- In a large dutch oven, cook the bacon until crisp. Set the bacon aside to cool, then pack away and save to garnish the finished dish.
- Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the bacon grease over medium-high heat and brown the chicken on both sides, 4-5 minutes per side. You will probably have to do this in 2 batches. Transfer browned chicken to the slow-cooker.
- Add the onions, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and water to the dutch oven. Scrap the bottom of the pan to get up any brown bits (the flavor!) and cook the onions for 4-5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Pour the onion mixture into the slow-cooker.
- Add the thyme, chicken stock, soy sauce, bay leaves, and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar to the slow-cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- When ready to serve, transfer the chicken to a platter. Discard bay leaves and pour liquid through a mesh strainer into a saucepan, reserving the solids. Remove any pieces of chicken or cartilage from the solids. Transfer solids to a food processor or blender with 1 cup liquid and blend until smooth. Stir the blended mixture back into remaining liquid in the saucepan.
- Heat the liquid over medium heat. In a small dish, mix together the arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) and water. Pour the mixture into the liquid while whisking quickly. Add the cider vinegar and continue to cook until the mixture is thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Pour the gravy over the chicken and top with the fresh parsley and reserved crumbled bacon. Serve and enjoy!
*You can shred the meat off the bones (especially if you're using larger pieces like thighs/breasts) and mix it with the sauce before serving if you like.
*Whenever I make bone-in chicken, I like to save the bones in a bag in my freezer to make homemade chicken stock.
Recipe inspired by these Smothered Pork Chops