You know how slow cooker recipes always say you just “throw” stuff in the Crock-Pot and boom, six to eight hours later you have dinner? And then you read the recipe and whoops you have to sear something first, or you have to cook it on high for this many hours and then turn it to low for another couple hours, or you add this ingredient after one hour but these three ingredients after four hours? Yeah.
I do love my Crock-Pot. I’ve had one ever since I moved out of my parents’ house. The first one was a gift from my cousin and it was the tiny, personal size Crock-Pot with no dials or settings, just a plug. I used it to make football dip*, mostly. At some point I graduated to a four-quart version (more or less exactly this one…still the same after all these years). I don’t remember when or why I got it, but I’ve had for at least ten years. Maybe closer to 15? Anyway, it’s served me very well and I’ve used it a lot more the last few years than I ever did before. Sometimes I think I’d like to have a larger one, but there’s nothing wrong with the one I have, so I won’t be Crock-Potting any Thanksgiving turkeys for the time being.
Anyway: I mostly use the slow cooker to make broth or soup in the winter, but duh: it’s actually a great summer cooking tool when you’re trying to avoid using the oven, which I do from approximately mid-June through oh, the end of September, or whenever it stops being 90 degrees outside. Yeah, we have air conditioning, but not on the first floor and the house is old and it just gets too hot for the stupid oven, so I’d rather not!
We do use the grill, we use the range, but honestly sometimes I don’t even want to do that (if it’s not clear by now I really really hate the heat). So imagine the late-to-the-party brainstorm I had (when I was reading Food52 this weekend) about all the reasons a slow cooker rules in the summer. Sure, you don’t want to eat a lot of heavy, hearty things, but you do probably want to eat chicken tinga tacos and pulled pork sandwiches and light, spicy soups!
It’s not super hot here yet, at least not consistently, but I decided to go ahead and launch Crock-Pot Summer with Food52’s slow-cooker Mediterranean chicken stew. Remember those stealth complications I mentioned earlier? The searing, the timing, the whatnot? This recipe really actually only takes about 10 minutes to put together in the morning, and that’s including the time it takes if you choose to make your own Greek seasoning.
My variations: I used a can of artichoke hearts (drained), and skipped the dill in the Greek seasoning blend (my husband is allergic!), I also omitted the olives because I hate them and tossed in a tablespoon or so of capers instead.
Mine cooked in about 5-6 hours on low and we will 100% make it again.