Too Hot to Cook? Make Pineapple Chicken in the Slow Cooker
Sometimes it's just too hot to fire up the oven or even to grill outside. On those super-hot days, try pulling out your slow cooker and making Pineapple Chicken. The main dish is easy, uses cheap bone-in chicken legs, and can be served simply for your family or dressed up for company. The chicken also makes great leftovers, and, if you like, you can remove the meat from the bones and "re-purpose" it for chicken quesadillas or casseroles. I brown the chicken thighs before I put them in the slow cooker, but the browning isn't absolutely necessary if you're short on time. Just keep in mind that the chicken won't look as good. Frankly, given that we remove the chicken skin anyway, it's an extra step I don't always do when I'm making the dish just for my family. You choose. How does the dish taste? It's rich with tropical flavor, a little sweet, and a little tangy. Soy sauce, garlic, and ginger give it a somewhat Asian taste. I use only a small amount of powdered ginger, but, if you want more heat, feel free to grate and add a tablespoon or two of fresh ginger. The chicken is great served on top of rice to catch all the flavorful sauce. Want to dress it up? Sprinkle the cooked dish with a little chopped cilantro or parsley and sprinkle on some toasted almonds.
Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken -- Serves 4+
4-5 pounds of chicken drumsticks
1-2 tablespoon of canola oil
1 teaspoon of salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1 cup of crushed pineapple (with it's juice)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of ketchup
1/4 cup of lime juice
1/4 cup of "lite" or reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
1 teaspoon of ginger
3 tablespoon of cornstarch
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle it with half the salt and the pepper. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. In batches--6-8 legs at a time--brown the chicken on all sides for a total of about 8 minutes. Place the browned legs in a slow cooker coated with non-stick cooking spray and turn the slow cooker on to high. In a large bowl or measure (I use a quart Pyrex measure), combine the pineapple, brown sugar, ketchup, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, the remaining salt, and the cornstarch and whisk everything well. Microwave the mixture for several minutes or until it's hot and steaming. Whisk it again and pour the mixture over the chicken in the slow cooker. Replace the lid on the slow cooker and cook the chicken for an hour on high and then 3-4 hours on low or until the chicken is very tender (or you can cook the chicken for longer on low, if you have the time). Serve the chicken with its sauce.