Sweet Balsamic Chicken & Thymed Veggies

Well, if you like slow cooker meals, it’s your lucky week. And you can thank my softball-playing daughters. (If slow-cooking isn’t your thing, you can blame them!) I just haven’t had time to prep for meals and get them cooked after work because of traveling softball players. So it’s been worth the little extra time at night to plan something to throw into my crock pot in the morning. I usually have chicken thighs in the house and this works just about any veggies that you have around the house. Veggies that take longer to cook, like carrots or sweet potatoes, should be cooked for the full amount of time with the chicken. Softer cooking veggies like green beans or zucchini can be thrown in about 30-40 minutes before the end of cook time. Your veggie choices are yours: I usually go for those with a lower glycemic index like green beans, white sweet potatoes, and zucchini. But the kids were asking for baby carrots and red potatoes. So that’s what you see here. I also threw in some fresh green beans towards the end of time and served mine over brown rice. I used a Korean red pepper spice in this dish but you can use just crushed red pepper or cayenne. Or you can leave it out. It doesn’t come across like a spicy dish at all. I used the Korean Gochugaru pepper blend just to give a counterpoint to the sweetness of the balsamic sauce. But by no means would I consider this a spicy dish. 

Note: I make this with honey. But you don’t have to. It’s just as delicious without it. I only use 3 tablespoons for the whole dish. And I find it balances and mellows the slight spiciness of the Korean red pepper spice nicely. But feel free to do it either way. Also, and just because, it would be a shame to waste the delicious sauce leftover at the bottom of the pot after you get all the goodies out. So I quickly whisked it into a “gravy” using a little tapioca flour. That just took a minute. I didn’t even have to heat it in a pan. So worth it!!

Enjoy and, as always, let me know how it turns out with a comment or even some photos in a post!!

Ingredients-

• 1-2 pounds of chicken thighs (or breasts)

• 2 tbsp olive or avocado oil

• 3 cloves garlic, minced or roughly chopped 

• 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 

• 3 tbsp honey (optional)

• 1 onion, rough sliced

• 1–2 tsp salt, or to taste

• 1 tsp black pepper

• 1 tsp McCormick Korean Gochugaru red pepper flakes (or 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper) (also optional, but recommended)

• 2 tsp dried thyme

• 2 tsp dried Basil 

• 1/3 cup chicken or veggie broth

• 8-16 oz baby carrots

• 8-16 oz small red potatoes or white sweet potatoes (halved or quartered) 

• 8-16 oz green beans (cleaned & trimmed)

• 2-3 tbsp tapioca flour (for gravy)

Directions-

1. In the bottom of the crock pot, add the oil and garlic. Season it with a little salt & pepper. Add the garlic. Then place the chicken on top of it. Season the chicken again with a little more salt, pepper and some thyme. 

2. Layer the onion on top of the chicken. 

3. In a bowl, whisk together the balsamic, honey (if you’re using it), red pepper, basil, thyme, salt & pepper. Pour half of the balsamic mixture over the chicken and onions. 

4. Add the carrots and potatoes to the crock pot. Season again with a little more salt, pepper, & thyme. (I love thyme on potatoes, so I’m generous with it here). 

5. Pour the remaining balsamic mixture over the veggies. Add the chicken stock over the veggies as well. 

6. Cook for 4-6 hours on high. (The chicken will be done at 4 hours but I think the extra hour or two is perfect for finishing the veggies). 

7. At 30-40 minutes before the end of cook time, add the green beans to the crock pot. 

8. When time is done, remove the veggies and the chicken and place into serving dishes. Then, with a ladle, transfer most of the leftover balsamic sauce into a large measuring cup or small pitcher. Add the tapioca flour and whisk it into the sauce, creating a gravy. I only needed 2 tbsp to make a nice, thick gravy from the drippings. It was perfect just like that. And still hot!! 






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