Slow-Down Sunday

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

Chris and I had a crazy hectic week this past week.  We only had time to sit down to dinner together a few nights, and even then we were preoccupied with our Blackberry devices and reading for work, etc. I have been waiting all week for us to just slow down and just enjoy life a bit.

Yesterday (Saturday) was a hot one -- mid 80s and probably the last warm day of the year. I had some potatoes left from my organic box and wanted to make something homey for dinner.  Chris was working in the city all day, so I figured I could make a mess and heat up the already humid kitchen a bit more in his absence and make a roast or a gratin, or something that required using the stove and/or oven (I've been in a bit of withdrawal not having 3+ hours of cooking to do each day, now that I've finished my course).  But, the day got ahead of me and after running some errands, I realized I still hadn't settled on what to make--and it was late enough in the day that it probably would end up being for Sunday dinner instead.

I started to brainstorm, and then I glanced up to the shelf above our kitchen pantry and saw our slow cooker, and I knew what I wanted.  Roasted, lemony, garlicky, olive-y slow-cooked chicken with rosemary, baby carrots and those lovely fingerling potatoes: Fancy Chicken Stew. So, I covered the bottom of my slow cooker pot with baby carrots, some small potatoes, rosemary sprigs, half a dozen peeled garlic cloves, some sliced shallot and a couple handfuls of olives (use a nice briny kind). Then, I stuffed/tied a roasting chicken with more rosemary, about 12 garlic cloves (peeled) and 2-3 lemons, seeded and cut in wedges. The chicken went on top of the veggies (breast side down is best but either way is fine) and then I poured 2 cups of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of lemon juice over it, then sprinkled on some salt/pepper and Herbes de Provence, then dotted the whole thing with 1/2 a stick of butter and put on the lid. I put the cooker on the 6 hour setting, cleaned up the now semi-cooler kitchen and fixed myself a cocktail while I waited for Chris to come home.

I also started another batch of bread -- this time, I used bread flour (you can use all purpose, too) and added in 1/4 cup of dried rosemary to the dry ingredients.  By 10 p.m. the house smelled lovely from the slow-cooker, and this morning, after I made the bread -- it was heaven on earth. Rosemary is under appreciated, I do believe.

Today, about 40 minutes before we wanted to eat, I took the chicken out of the slow cooker insert, separated the meat from the bones and put the rest of the stew and chicken in a big pot on the stove. The slow-cooker does marvels for a chicken -- it literally just slides off the bones and becomes almost instantly shredded once you gently stir it. It's also unbelievably tender and juicy. I slowly re-heated it to a low simmer, then ladled it into bowls and served with the fresh-baked rosemary bread and some white wine. Chris and I took our time as we savored some lazy Sunday evening conversation and this lovely chicken stew.  Terrific.

Life is good.