18 April 2011

Slow-Cooker "Ugly Duckling"

Dear Lissy,
I've been busy this morning getting the house back together after Sunday. Yesterday was a little taste of Heaven -- wonderful singing and preaching, a Junior Church pizza party, and then a drop in visit from the W's before we returned to church for more singing and preaching -- my heart is full!
I often use either a Crock-Pot or a low oven to have dinner ready as soon as we get home from church. As a bonus, most of the clean up is done ahead of time, too. Ugly Duckling  is one of our favorite meals.  The sauce is reminiscent of the duck sauce served de rigeur with chicken fingers from Chinese restaurants in New England, and everything in this casserole is kid friendly:  chicken chunks, pineapple, cherries, and water chestnuts.  It does live up to it's name, though...keep this recipe for family or close friends!
Yes, it is that ugly...the slow cooker is much more photogenic!

Ugly Duckling
1-1/2 lbs boneless chicken breast or thighs or pork
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 20 oz can pineapple chunks with juice
1 jar maraschino cherries, drained
1 can sliced water chesnuts, drained
12 oz jar apricot preserves
12 oz can Cream of chicken soup, undiluted

Mix soy and cornstarch in a gallon Ziploc bag.  Cube chicken into largish 1" chunks* and place in bag, squishing around to coat.  Marinate 2-8 hours.  Bring chicken to room temperature.
Heat a large wok or chef's pan on high, and add peanut or canola oil to coat pan.  Sear outside of chicken chunks and remove immediately to Crock or baking dish with a slotted spoon.  Do not allow to cook through.**
Mix pineapple chunks with their juice, drained maraschino cherries, drained water chesnuts, apricot preserves and cream of chicken soup in large mixing bowl.  Pour over chicken and stir well.  Bake at  low setting on crock pot for 3-4 hours.  Remove and halve one chicken chunk to be sure that dish is ready to serve.
Serve over rice or noodles.

*Experiment with your crock to get optimum chicken chunk size/cooking time.  Largish 1" chunks bake to perfection on low in my crock while we're at church for 3-1/2 hours.  In my old Crock-pot, the chicken would have broken down into shreds, so I refrigerated the whole crock full overnight before baking and flipped the crock-pot to low just before I walked out the door.

**Fully cook chicken chunks in wok and bake in a casserole dish for 30 minutes at 350 if not slow cooking.

I hope Sundays are always a "Day of Delight" for you, too.  The years with little ones can be difficult, but you'll be surprised how quickly they pass.

Lovin' you, my beautiful swan!

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