A real classic given the slow cooker treatment. Chicken thighs remain more succulent than breasts after a long cook and are cheaper too. Don’t worry if you don’t have any brandy handy, just leave it out. Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans, garnished with freshly chopped parsley.
Trim any excess fat off the chicken thighs with kitchen scissors and re-form into a neat shape. Season the chicken all over with a little salt and plenty of pepper. Cut the bacon into short, roughly 2cm-wide strips. Peel and finely chop the onion, peel and crush the garlic and peel the shallots.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry the chicken for about 5 minutes, turning the thighs occasionally until lightly browned. (Browning smooth side up to start with will help set the shape.)
Transfer to the slow cooker. Return the pan to the heat. Add the bacon strips and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until beginning to crisp, turning often. Scatter on top of the chicken.
Next, add the chopped onion to the pan and cook over a medium heat for 4–5 minutes until golden brown, adding the garlic for the last minute of cooking time and stirring often. Tip the onion and garlic into the slow cooker with the chicken pieces, sprinkle the flour over and toss gently together.
Deglaze the frying pan with the brandy, if using, stirring well to remove as much of the tasty sediment from the bottom of the pan as possible. Add half the red wine and bubble for a few seconds more. Pour the hot brandy and wine, and the remaining wine, over the chicken and vegetables.
Stir in the canned tomatoes, shallots, mushrooms, bay leaf and thyme. Cover with the lid and cook on HIGH for 3–4 hours or LOW for 5–7 hours, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasoning to taste before serving.
353 calories per serving
Extract from Slow Cooker Without the Calories by Justine Pattison, Orion, £14.99.