Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs in Blood Oranges with Meyer Lemons and Sherry is the perfect pick me up dinner for winter! Warming, slow cooking, yet bright and cheery with citrus to combat the grey days, this meal is pure comfort food!
Oh snow days. Shockingly they have become the norm. I saw a tongue in cheek map on Facebook the other day, dividing the country up into various extreme and amusing epithets describing the cold weather, and Ohio was actually included in the most extreme one. They sell White Lily flour (traditionally used by many Southerners to make biscuits and not sold further north in Ohio) in the grocery stores here for heaven’s sake! This is not the frozen tundra! She says as she stares at the glossy white landscape.
Ah well, it is not like we are not all dealing with it. So may I recommend some good food for comfort? This dish was a real pick-me-up, because of the cheerful color of the blood orange if nothing else! And its flavors are reminiscent of southern Spain, where I doubt the landscape ever becomes glossy white. Take a bite, close your eyes, pretend you feel the sun beating on your face, smell the orange groves….
I wanted to serve this dish over some kind of starch, and I decided on farro. When I saw this recipe from Eating Well for Farro with Pistachio and Fresh Herbs, I could not help but think about how much I love pistachio with citrus in baked goods. I figured the combination would work well in a savory dish, and I was right. My only change to the recipe was to use cilantro instead of parsley (because of what I had around) and I cannot recommend the dish enough. You can find the recipe through the link.
This dish is the latest addition to my slow cooker repertoire. Like the others, it could also be made in a Dutch oven, but it worked quite well in the slow cooker too. I maintain that browning the ingredients before braising creates the best results, and is not that much work, but if you are pressed for time you could brown the ingredients the night before and refrigerate until morning. Despite everything I just said about taking the little steps to ensure better flavor, I confess I prefer boneless chicken. Inevitably, when I braise bone-in chicken, one of my kids gets a tiny bone and it just freaks me out. So while I prefer bone-in beef, I do not prefer bone-in chicken.
- 1-2 T Spanish extra virgin olive oil
- 8 chicken thighs
- juice of 1 Meyer lemon, approximately ¼ cup
- juice of 2 blood oranges, approximately 1//3 cup
- Spanish medium dry sherry, approximately ½ cup, divided
- 3 medium onions, diced
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- 1 sweet bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 t cumin
- ½ t smoked paprika
- ⅛ t ground ginger
- zest of one blood orange, peeled off in wide strips
- segments of one blood orange
- ¼ cup low sodium chicken stock
- 2-3 T honey or agave syrup to taste
- Chopped cilantro, about ½ cup, for garnish
- 1 blood orange, thinly sliced, for garnish
- Sprinkle some salt on the chicken thighs and set aside.
- Heat the oil in the slow cooker insert or a sauté pan over medium high heat. When it is hot add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 8-10 minutes.
- While the chicken is browning, juice the lemon and oranges (zest the oranges first with a peeler). Pour the seedless juice into a liquid measuring cup. Then add sherry to the 1 cup line. Set aside.
- Remove the chicken to a bowl and set aside. Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook until starting to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Add the celery and bell pepper. Continue cooking another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with a little water if it begins to scorch or stick.
- Add the garlic and spices and stir. Let cook for one minute, stirring. If the pan needs to be deglazed, add a few tablespoons of sherry and scrape up the bottom of the pan. If you are using a separate pan, scrape this mixture into your slow cooker insert.
- Add the juice mixture with the peeled zest from the blood oranges and the segments from another blood orange. Add the chicken stock. Place the slow cooker insert onto the slow cooker base and cover. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
- When the chicken is finished cooking, add the cilantro, reserving some for garnish and 2 tablespoons of honey or agave. Taste for more honey/agave or salt.
- Serve over Farro with Pistachios and Fresh Herbs and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and raw slices of blood oranges.
For the collage fans…