When I first moved out of my mom’s house and came to Virginia for graduate school, I went to a terrible big-box appliance store called BrandsMart USA and bought myself a toaster and a slow cooker. These seemed like two staple items that any person living on their own should have, so I braved the garish signs and loud TVs that played in seemingly every corner of the store; I braced myself for the sensory overload that is BrandsMart USA in the interest of low prices, and I bought my little toaster and very basic, small slow cooker.
The first dish I tried in my slow cooker was orange chicken. I came home after the chicken had been cooking for about six hours to find a pot full of burnt, black char. The sugar (probably honey) from the orange chicken had burned, and the chicken was barely recognizable. I threw the mess in the trash can and never used that “slow” cooker again.
But recently, I’ve fallen back in love with the slow cooker, and thanks to a cookbook that Amanda owns, Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, I have found a few full-proof slow cooking recipes that I really like. We made this one a couple months ago, and yesterday, I made it again for dinner. This dish, Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Chickpeas and Cumin, incorporates a few of my favorite things: cumin (the smell! the taste!), bell pepper (calls for red, but I used yellow yesterday), peanut butter, and cilantro. And this recipe was a revelation of sorts; it calls for golden raisins. During the course of cooking over 6-7 hours, the raisins rehydrate, and when you eat them, they look a bit like chickpeas. But then you bite down, and they release their sweet juices, and that sweetness, amid the hearty, smoky flavor of cumin, red onion, pepper, and a little cayenne, is a burst of glorious freshness. I like it so much that I doubled the amount of raisins called for in the recipe. Check out the recipe below. Continue reading »