Indian Summer Solution: Slow-Cooker Soy Citrus Chicken

September 4, 2017

What the heck, Colorado? The month of August was, for the most part, cool and rainy, making me think all sorts of Autumnal-leaning food thoughts, like a nice pot of soup or a homey, fall-apart tender roast (with lots of potatoes, naturally). And then, whammo! School begins and you whack us in the face with Indian summer temperatures hovering near or above the 90-degree mark. It hit a steamy 97 degrees this weekend, smoke from wildfires made the air hazy and the wasps were buzzing in full force, sending skittish Minxes indoors. It made us a little bitter.

Isn’t the start of school shock enough to the system? Now I have to crank up the dial on the air conditioning too?

Speaking of shocks to the system, I also decided to kick off the start of the school year by agreeing to foster two adorable kittens, because I’m tender-hearted a moron like that. Perhaps I needed a distraction from the inevitable empty house that comes with the whole back-to-school business? Does anticipatory loneliness atrophy the brain? Well, whatever the reason, when a couple of sad-sack kitties needed a temporary home, I said, “Why not?”

These poor kittens were terrified, traumatized little bags of bones when I picked them up, and it took several weeks of concerted effort to build their trust enough so that they didn’t cower under the bed every time I entered the room. They didn’t bristle or hiss at me, but they were spooked as Hell. I despaired a little that first week and a half, wondering if they’d hate me forever. Luckily, they decided that this weird lady who kept feeding them chicken and chattering in a soft voice wasn’t so horrible after all, and after another week, they were happy to accept pets and ear scratches and nibble treats out of my hand.

Then I had to fuck up the whole affair by taking them to the veterinarian to be “fixed,” which is something you really have to do as a foster, but hoo-boy. I had one of the most harrowing hours of my life trying to wrangle those half-wild kittens into transport carriers Wednesday morning. By the time (with the additional help of my harried husband) those kittens were contained, they were pissed, I was crying and bloody and my husband was exhausted.

                    ^This pretty princess was the most pissed princess of them all. Feisty ball of hiss.

 

      ^Pancho-man turned out to be a girl(!), and she was more terrified than hissy. She is still under the bed, trusting no one.

 

 

They have remained fairly pissed for days, although the blue-eyed Siamese is coming around. She has adopters waiting for her, and as soon as her stitches heal I am supposed to get her back in a transport carrier again. Christ on a cracker, you guys. HOW the bloody hell am I going to do that, you reckon?

Frankly, the prospect makes me green around the gills.

Anyone want to don a Hazmat suit and come help me do this? I’m not sure I can stomach it again.

And then, of course, there was every kind of media bombardment regarding Hurricane Harvey. My husband’s parents and his sister are all in Houston, so there were lots of worried phone calls and hand-wringing. They are okay, thank goodness. I tried to focus on that, and the uplifting stories and the footage of people coming together but Jesus. So many people and creatures fighting for their lives, or what’s left of their lives.

All of this fumbling and clatter and feelingthefeels and drama has made for full days, full wineglasses and sandwiches for dinner. It’s sizzling outside, to boot, so firing up the stove or even the grill doesn’t seem appealing. I will admit to ordering pizza on Wednesday night after the vet debacle, but by Thursday, I decided I needed to do a little better. Shoveling junk into my body isn’t going to improve affairs, is it? Besides, I should spend my pizza money on people who really need relief.

Time to haul out the slow cooker. I know for some of you, that seems odd–isn’t the slow cooker for the winter months? And naturally, it is perfectly suited for snowy weather but the trusty old crockpot works quite well in the summer months, as well. The newer models really don’t heat up the house at all, so there’s no reason to stow it away. Use that sucker!

If you can get organized in the morning, you can be sitting down to a healthy, un-pizza based dinner in a relatively cool house. That sounds pretty good to me. This recipe packs a lot of flavor for just a few ingredients; I always appreciate that in a recipe. This chicken is juicy, slightly sweet and just a tad spicy. I actually doubled the amount of Sriracha called for because I like things fiery, but do as you please.

You can serve this with steamed rice (or those packages of pre-cooked microwaveable rice if you really are pressed for time), cooked rice noodles, or as a base for lettuce wraps. The leftovers are aces, too.

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend, staying cool and spending time with family. Now…who needs a kitty in their life? Anyone?

 

Slow-Cooker Soy Citrus Chicken

serves 4

slightly adapted from Food Network magazine

 

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup sweet chili sauce (you can find this in the Asian aisle at the grocery store)

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons Sriracha

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated

3 minced garlic clove

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds (optional)

 

Lay the onion slices in a 6-quart slow cooker. Toss the chicken with the flour, lemon and orange zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Add to the slow cooker in a single layer. Combine the chili sauce, orange juice, soy sauce, Sriracha, ginger and garlic in a bowl; pour over the chicken.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low, 7 hours. Uncover and transfer the chicken to a plate. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove onion slices. Return chicken to the slow cooker gently stir, breaking up the chicken into large pieces and tossing with the sauce remaining in the slow cooker. Let stand 10 minutes.

Check for seasoning and add salt/pepper if necessary. Top chicken with cilantro and almonds, if using.

 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie September 4, 2017 at 8:41 am

I wonder if you could put food or treats in the transport carrier for several days and maybe they’d warm up to it? I don’t know cats only dogs! Lol.
We’ve been breaking out the instapot and slow cooker a ton too. This looks perfect!

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elizabeth September 4, 2017 at 11:05 am

Glad to hear that your family is doing well in TX–I can’t imagine how terrifying that all must be right now. Sandy was bad, but we were really lucky and missed the brunt of it five years ago.

Smart to use the slow-cooker, especially since it doesn’t generate much heat. I love our pressure cooker for the same reason, but with the added bonus that it’s super-fast too.

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Shell September 4, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Tip to get a cat into a carrier: put the carrier with the opening up so you can drop the cat in. I also used to swaddle my cat in a towel so the claws were contained. Lol

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Mari September 5, 2017 at 9:22 am

Dropping the cat down into the carrier works great but swaddle to avoid a leg or paw to stop progress. Helps if a second person can close door immediately. Treats inside the carrier foe a few days might help and use whatever towel/blanket they have lain on to ease them in.
I can attempt to help you if you want.

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Jen September 5, 2017 at 10:29 am

I remember listening to a podcast that interviewed an animal behavioralist who specialized in felines (maybe on Fresh Air?). They recommended with the carrier issue that the carrier be part of the cat’s environment as apparently the largest source of comfort for them is related to their home environment and its items/smells (rather than like dogs who derive comfort from their human’s presence). Along with that concept they also said putting a blanket from the cat’s bed in the carrier could offer some comfort. In terms of getting them in, I second the recommendation of wrapping in a towel & putting them in through the top portion of the carrier.
Good luck with these first weeks of school!

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Papa Guy September 10, 2017 at 9:02 pm

Shell and Jen have it. Swaddle in a big fluffy towel. They might be scared but they are safe and the “There Will be Blood” scenario will be minimized.
Not sure I agree with “fostering”. I am not aware of your particular situation as that goes, so please pardon me putting my opinion out there. I can see the need though.
All fur babies need a forever home from the beginning. Tramatizing enough without doing it all over again.

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