Recipe: Spring Chicken

Maybe you’re not one, but you can certainly eat one.

So many flavors of spring are starting to appear at the grocery store, so I threw them all in a crockpot together. I’m especially in lurve with Meyer lemons right now and gorge myself on them until they disappear. And, as always, I embrace asparagus when it reemerges from its wintry slumber. I just can’t eat it in the off-season—something about that seems wrong—so its particular brand of greenyness is welcome these days. These wet, gloomy spring days here in southern Oregon that are threatening to stay until June.

I went the extra mile here and browned the chicken and sauteed the veggies first. Could you be a lazy caveperson and just throw everything in the crockpot? Sure! I’ve been known to do so myself. But I was after some layered flavor, and there’s just nothing like a good mirepoix to pick up all those tasty brown chicken bits left in the pan. You might not be as interested in eating the uncrispy skin when this is done, but be sure and cook with it on anyway—it adds to the luscious broth.

Spring Chicken

8 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)

kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

2 Tbsp. butter

1 small onion, finely diced (if you can find them, pearl onions would be lovely too)

2 carrots, finely diced

2 celery stalks, finely diced

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup tarragon, chopped (sub 1 Tbsp. rosemary if you can’t find tarragon)

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 – 2 cups chicken broth (this will depend on the size of your crockpot)

1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off and chopped into 1-inch segments

Garnish: chives, snipped

1) Sprinkle S&P on both sides of chicken. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down, until browned, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook another 5 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet and put in the crockpot.

2) Add your mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery) to the skillet, making sure to scrape up any browned bits. When onions are translucent (2-3 minutes), add mushrooms. When mushrooms are beginning to release their moisture, about 3 minutes more, stir in garlic, lemon zest, and tarragon. Turn off heat and add contents of skillet to the crockpot. Pour in broth until it reaches halfway up the pile of chicken. Put a lid on it.

3) If you’re cooking this all day and have plenty of time, set the crockpot to low. If it’s a few hours before dinner time, I crank it to high until everything reaches a good temperature, then switch it to low. If using the latter, I’d give it at least two hours.

4) About 20 minutes before serving, stir in lemon juice and dump asparagus pieces on top of the chicken. Allow to steam until crisp-tender.

5) To serve, dig chicken out (tongs are very helpful here, because—say it with me kids!—the meat just falls off the bone!) and put two on a plate (soup/pasta plates with a rim are great for this). Spoon asparagus and broth on and around chicken. Garnish with snipped chives.

Serves 4.

NOTES: You could be REALLY lazy and do this as a stew and get all the same flavors. Just use boneless, skinless thighs, diced up, and do the whole thing in a pot on the stove. Just don’t be tempted to dump the asparagus in at the beginning. Mushy asparagus never helped anyone.

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2 Responses to “Recipe: Spring Chicken”

  1. You are right, I’m not a spring chicken! This looks tasty though. I think I’ll try the stew version.

    • Hope you enjoy it! The stew version would definitely be quicker, but probably very close to the same level of tastiness. I’m trying to get more bones and such in my diet so I go out of my way to use bone-in meat when I can.

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