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Slow-Cooker Provençal Chicken

Enhance the flavor of this chicken dish by topping each portion with fig and olive tapenade. Prepare it from scratch or purchase a ready-made version.

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken, about 3 1/2 lb., cut into 8 pieces (2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 breast-wing portions and 2 lower-breast portions)
  • Salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

For the fig and olive tapenade:

  • 1 cup pitted mild green olives, such as Picholine or Lucques
  • 1 cup pitted black olives, such as Niçoise
  • 2 dried brown figs, such as Brown Turkey, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. brandy
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. minced fresh rosemary

  • 4 cups baby arugula

Directions:

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season the chicken generously all over with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding, add the chicken and sear, turning as needed, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Pour off most of the fat from the pan and return it to medium-high heat. Add the onion and bay leaves and sauté until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tarragon, the 1/2 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper. Pour in the wine and stock and stir to dislodge any browned bits from the pan bottom. Transfer the contents of the pan to a slow cooker and stack the chicken on top. Cover and cook on low according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the chicken is tender, about 3 hours.

Meanwhile, make the tapenade: In a food processor, combine the green olives, black olives, figs, garlic, olive oil, brandy, lemon zest and rosemary and pulse to form a chunky tapenade.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Strain the braising liquid into a small saucepan, let stand for a few minutes and then skim away the fat with a large spoon. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until reduced by about half to concentrate the flavors, about 10 minutes.

In a bowl, drizzle the arugula with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss. Divide the chicken among warmed plates and drizzle with the braising liquid. Top each portion with a large spoonful of tapenade and some of the arugula. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The New Slow Cooker, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, 2010).