Lately I find myself craving (and cooking) comfort foods. Maybe it’s the weather. Or the lack of sleep. Perhaps it’s spending the holiday so far away from my family. Whatever it may be, I long for simple, good dishes that warm you from the inside out.
My grandmother passed away recently, at the advanced age of 94. She was no chef, but she knew how to prepare a handful of homey dishes she cooked to perfection. When my siblings and I were small, we knew that every time we entered her tiny, spotless urban kitchen, a warm smell would await us. Chicken legs, brown and succulent, and loads of potato latkes (cakes) to absorb all the saucy, oniony goodness. Simple? yes. But believe me when I tell you that even the snobbish of foodies will sigh in contentment after eating this dish.
The only glitch with this recipe is the constant attention it requires. You really need to babysit the pan and turn the legs over and over, making sure they brown evenly and that the amount of sauce is just right.
I, for one, am already busy babysitting a real live baby, but that didn’t stop me from craving my grandma’s comforting food. So I did what I had to do. I cheated. Again. And it payed off. Big time. Slow cookers rule, and so do rule breakers.
The ingredient list is short and simple, but don’t let that fool you. The taste is deep and complex. Go for it, you will thank me later.
Grandma’s braised chicken, slow cooker style
about 1 kg (2 lb) chicken drumsticks (a family pack of about 12 legs) – I skin mine with the help of a paper towel (the best is to convince an unsuspecting spouse to do it for you)
2 extra-large onions, sliced thinly into half moons or chopped small if desired
1/4 cup canola oil mixed with 1 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp water
2 dry bay leafs
salt and pepper
Place all the ingredients in your slow cooker. Cook on high for 1 hour then turn on low for about 5 hours. Or cook on low overnight. The longer you cook, the browner and softer your meat will become.
I of course couldn’t resist opening and mixing the chicken a few times during the cooking process, but you don’t have to.