Cooking Low And Slow

The downsizing continues in Ann Kelly’s Kitchen for both mind and body this week with a new recipe I just tried out for a slow cooker version of Pineapple Chicken. Not tough, easy prep but I definitely will be tweaking this the next time I make it. Just because I lower the calories does not mean I lower flavor. The spices in the pantry, the fresh garlic, ginger and onions in this dish make the difference between decent and I want seconds. I’m more aware of that then ever with since this all began last March and getting way too comfortable with the wrong foods.

I found the original recipe on one of my favorite sites at The Spruce Eats. The list of ingredients is pretty basic:

Pineapple Slow Cooker Chicken

1 pound chicken breasts

1 (20-ounce) can unsweetened chunk pineapple (undrained)

1 cup red bell pepper (chopped)

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 clove garlic (minced finely)

Sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup green onion (chopped)

Start with putting the chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker, then add the pineapple, ground ginger and garlic. Here’s where I would make the first changes. I used fresh pineapple and drained the juice to lower sugar and calories, and compensated with a little more broth. Add that and if you can, keep the garlic and ginger fresh, and I would add 3/4 tsp garlic and another half clove of garlic. I want more spice in the dish for two reasons - not enough in the original recipe for my taste and I add more vegetables to it as well. But that addition will only come at the end of the cooking time to keep them from getting over cooked and soggy. Let the chicken cook for 5 hours on low. So easy!

Now the sauce. I did use a low-sodium soy sauce, but after the dish was done it definitely needed more salt. Too much salt can be as bad as too little so I wait to taste at the end before adding any. Maybe a teaspoon, or let your guests salt to taste. But I think the addition of more spices will make a difference. Put all the ingredients in a small pot and take some of the liquid out of the slow cooker and add that to make a smooth, thick sauce. It doesn’t take long over medium-high heat so keep an eye on it. Then that goes right back into the slow cooker with the chicken and there’s dinner. This recipe says it make four servings but I divided it up to five and have those in the freezer for lunch or dinner later.

Now about the added veggies. That’s been one of the things I noticed when tracking my food. I was really slacking on those so I look for easy ways to incorporate more without feeling like I’m a kid again at the dinner table and being told to sit there until I finished my green beans. The first veggie addition to the menu was to add about a third of a cup of chopped broccoli to each serving, and instead of serving it over rice or pasta I used Butternut Squash noodles I found in the produce section. Oh, and I do have a spiral slicer so I can make my own. If you do buy them premade pay attention to the directions. They cook quickly and can turn to mush if you’re not careful. But they were delicious! So I’ve added something good instead of something heavy and really enjoyed it.

That’s the beauty of cooking; adjusting a recipe to your own tastes and needs is easy. Unlike baking where it’s a little more on the scientific side but you can eventually have a lot of fun with that as well. But that’s a whole other blog. So enjoy the Pineapple Chicken, especially with the weather turning a little cooler this week. Of course if you’d like to share some of your favorites with me just send those to me at ann.kelly@cmg.com. I love to share in Ann Kelly’s Kitchen.

WORDS OF WISDOM FROM ANN KELLY’S KITCHEN

The best comfort food will always be greens, cornbread, and fried chicken. – Maya Angelou



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