Buttery olives, rich chicken, creamy potatoes in a luscious sauce brightened up with lemon and fresh herbs—this isn’t just a tasty dinner, this recipe is also a lesson in great slow cooking. We say this because it uses several techniques to maximize flavor, while still delivering on the hands-off convenience that slow cookers promise. Here’s what we mean: This recipe starts with browning the chicken on the stove—we know, we know, this doesn’t seem very convenient, but bear with us—browning is a chemical reaction that creates flavor, and it can’t happen inside a slow cooker, which cooks at too low a temperature for this process to occur. So yes, you have to wash a skillet, but it will pay off in terms of flavor—and the washing is actually made easy because of the deglazing step. But before we get to that, there are the onions. As long as the skillet is dirty, it makes sense to sauté the onions as well. Onions that go into the slow cooker raw can end up undercooked and acrid-tasting, so browning the onions in the chicken fat left behind in your skillet is setting you up for success. Adding some broth, after you’ve cooked and removed the onions, will allow you to scrape up the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet—and those little bits are cooking gold. Adding the deglazing liquid to the slow cooker means all the complex flavor you’ve developed through the simple act of browning will infuse the finished dish. And like we said, washing your skillet is a breeze after deglazing because you’ve already gotten rid of the sticky bits without any scrubbing. With such a flavorful start, your dish only needs low heat and time to cook up into something truly excellent and absolutely impressive.
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