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Dinner for One: Chicken Pot Thighs

OK..so are we ready, my little starving artisans? Ready for good, yummy, mmmmmmmm good food for just you? With maybe a little bit of leftovers so that you have something for tomorrow or a couple of days from now?

Well, you have come to the right place.

I think one of the barriers to good eating for folks who are living on their own is perceived lack of time. They get up. They are late already. They jump into work clothes and run out the door, grabbing something on the way that will pass for breakfast and the rest of the day, nutritionally speaking, goes downhill from there. And then they get home and stare into the fridge and see what’s left from a take out or whatever and it’s just so damn depressing.

Well, Bunkie, Aunt Toby is here to tell you that it does not have to be this way. As a matter of fact, you can make sure that it is not this way.

First, and we’ve talked about this before, is getting yourself organized so that you have some stuff in the fridge or the freezer that you can feed yourself with. And second, you can make some decisions over the weekend that will make your life more tasty and more nutritious. But for the moment, we are going to do a little magic with the slow cooker. Now, I can hear the eyeballs flipping over from here, but bear with me. Slow cookers come in all shapes and sizes now – I even found several in the .65 quart range at Target. Now, those are really meant to be used for dips and things like that but I’ll bet with a little thought, someone could use them to make some nifty soups. However, I think a slightly larger size would be more useful. Here are two inserts from crockpots. The one on the left is my trusty wedding gift crockpot from (cough) 1978 (you do the math), which is certainly not as big as some crockpots you can get today but certainly makes a whole mess of chili. There are no identifiers on it but I’ll bet it is in the 4-5 quart range. Big enough for a family of 4-6 but definitely much too big for a singleton or even two people who don’t want to end up eating the products thereof for the entire week. This is not meant to end up being this endurance contest of how long you can eat something night after night.

The insert on the right is a two quart crockpot insert. Now, I have seen on the web a 1.5 quart crockpot (made by Proctor Silex); however, I was not able to find one of those in any of my local stores (see what I do for you?), so I went with the next size up which is 2 quarts. The advertising on the box says it will do a two-pound roast, which is good enough for me because that’s a nice size to give someone not only several good meals but also sliced meat for sandwiches and so on. So this is, IMHO a good size.

Combine this with one of the comments I got on the poll (I got so many interesting comments) which was that the person wants to make vegetables a larger part of the diet. And this is something Aunt Toby can not only get behind, but in front of and with side impact air bags as well. All of us should be eating more veggies. One of the barriers to this, though is that some people feel that veggies take too much time and trouble, or their idea of veggies consists of corn and potatoes.

So, tonight’s Dinner for One (or Two – hey, invite the neighbor in…):
Chicken Pot Thighs
You will need:
2-3 chicken thighs (hopefully defrosted)
2 big carrots
2 stalks of celery
An onion the size of a baseball
(or your fist, whichever is bigger – onions are good for you)
2 big potatoes
1 can of cream of something soup (the low salt variety – and it doesn’t matter which one you use)
Whatever spices you can grub up in the house – rosemary, oregano, curry powder, but just choose one.
Note: If you have some frozen veggies in the freezer, put a cup of a combination of those into this too.

Equipment:
Frying pan
2 quart slow cooker
A can opener to open the can

Step one:
Sprinkle the spices on both sides of the chicken thighs
Put a little vegetable oil in the frying pan and, on low and covered, brown the thighs for five minutes on one side, and then flip to the other side and brown that side for five minutes too.

While the chicken is browning, chop up the celery, carrots, and onion into big chunks and throw into the bottom of the crock pot. Open the can of cream of whatever soup. When the chicken is browned on both sides, take out each piece, shake off a little bit and put on top of the veggies in the crockpot. Put on the cover. If you are doing this in the morning and then going off to work, set the crockpot on LOW. If you are doing this on a weekend afternoon, set the crockpot on high. Either way, it will be done at dinner time, ok?

Step Two: At close to dinner time.
Peel and cut up the potatoes into big chunks.
Open up the crock pot and take out the thighs. Take off the skin and take out the big bone in each piece. Put the meat and the potatoes back into the crockpot and turn it up to high.

Step Three: As the potatoes are cooking (and this should not take very long at all – just check the chunks after about 20 min. with a fork), make up this recipe for biscuits:

Biscuits for one or two:
1 cup of flour
2 tsps of baking powder
½ stick of butter
1/3-1/2 cup of milk

Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Cut up the butter into little pieces and work in either with your fingers or a pastry blender (there I go with the pastry blender again). Add the milk and stir up the mixture until it makes a ball of dough. Roll out into a log that is about 8” long and cut in half. Cut one half into four pieces. This will fit on top of the chicken pot thighs in the crockpot if you want something that is more dumpling like. If you these to be more crispy, then I have other directions for you.

If you are looking for dumplings, take those four pieces of biscuit dough and evenly space them on top of the mix in the crockpot. Put the lid back on but stick something like a chopstick under the lid so that the condensation will escape and the tops will firm up. Leave on high for about 15-20 minutes until the tops of the biscuits are firm. Serve it up. If the sauce in the bottom of the pot is a little bit thin, you might want to serve this in bowls.

If you are looking for dumplings, take those four pieces of biscuit dough and put them on the little baking sheet that came with your toaster oven. Set the toaster oven to the highest temperature setting before it says “broil” or “toast”. This is about 400-425. Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden on the top and bottom. Serve with the chicken pot thighs. If you’ve got a bag of salad fixings in the fridge, pull that out (it’s fresh, right – the stuff is still crispy so it’s ok…), put some of that in a bowl with some salad dressing and say, “Oh what a good (xx) am I.”
That’s good eatin’.

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3 Comments

  1. Suzanne says:

    oh yummy! thanks aunt toby — i’m always looking for recipes for one with a bit left over…..

  2. Donna Will says:

    Somehow I missed this one, Toby; my sister-in-law and I were just talking about her chicken and dumplings recipe not long ago. Her recipe is yummy, and I’ll give her this one too!

  3. Duchesse says:

    Anyone who is not at home to cook must have a crock pot! Never understood how they slid out of vogue. If you live on your own and don’t have one, you are at the mercy of expensive cuts or take-out. Also, it’s so promising to walk through the door and smell thicken thoughts, as if, while you were away, someone cooked for you. If you don’t have time to assemble a salad, slice a tomato and drizzle with olive oil.

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