Did you hear the band of angels rejoicing in the heavens today? Or maybe it was just me singing “Hallelujah the Littles are in school!” The big kids started a new school a couple weeks ago and we are adjusting well to the transition. Littlest returned to the neighborhood pre-school this morning. We are still in a two-week, gradual entrance phase, but it’s a start to reclaiming a routine around The Schell Cafe.
In the next three hours (Dear Lord, please don’t let me forget to pick up Littlest at Noon. Amen.) I have a list of things to accomplish that will naturally never get done in the abundance of time I have this morning. Dinner, however, is done. And, the kitchen smells like a provencal bistro.
More years ago than I can accurately recall, I lived in Paris. The woman who ran the 7th arrondissement boarding house I lived in also had an amazing farmhouse in Provence. When she invited me to visit her country house, I jumped on the TGV as fast as le train à grande vitesse. One of my favorite pastimes was hanging out in the kitchen curing fresh picked olives and learning all I could about the flavors of Provence.
To celebrate the beginning of the new school year I thought I’d make a special dinner borrowing from a French classic. But, since time is more of the essence than a fresh bouquet garni, I’m using my favorite back-to-school kitchen tool — the Crock Pot. As much as I’d love to spend the morning in a glorious French reverie, listening to Les Mis, and cooking, it’s just not in the cards today. Or any day, for that matter.
We can still celebrate the new school year French style! And you can too. Plop these simple ingredients in your slow cooker and bring the South of France to your kitchen. Cheap thrills, I know.
Provencal Bistro Chicken
8 – 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 -3 tablespoons olive oil (I used a rosemary infused olive oil)
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, chopped
4+ cloves garlic, minced
2-3 teaspoons of dried thyme
1 cup red wine (I didn’t measure, but used up Friday night’s leftovers)
28- oz can of diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
salt & pepper
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet (a great time to use your cast iron!), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, in batches if necessary, and brown on both sides.
Transfer the chicken to the crock pot. Melt the butter in the cast iron skillet and add the onions, garlic, and thyme. Saute the onions until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the wine and the tomatoes. Scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until well combined, just a minute or two. Transfer the mixture to the slow crock pot to coat the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 -8 hours.
I’m serving Provencal Bistro Chicken with Oven Roasted Potatoes and a simple green salad. Très français.