I don't think I've made any secret of the fact that I'm not a fan of alcohol. It's not a judgmental thing; it's a I'm-pretty-sure-I'm-allergic thing. Once, in college (of course), having drunk what to another person would be a moderate amount of alcohol (two shots and two beers), I broke out in splotchy redness all over. Not to mention beet-red flushing after just a few swallows of wine. Or the fact that after a few sips, any alcohol simply tastes like poison. So while I often regret the fact that I can't drink socially, sticking out like a sore thumb, I know my limits.
Luckily, alcohol in food doesn't bother me. In fact, I'm a huge fan of using it in cooking. If you saw my full liquor cabinet you'd never think that I any kind of issue. You might even think me a bit alcohol obsessed. Of course, what I know is that it's all used for my big passion -- food!
This chicken in Guinness red sauce recipe is probably my favorite Crock Pot recipe of all time. It's not just that it's simple (which it is, ridiculously so). It's not just that it's delicious. It's also that it doesn't look or taste like it came out of a slow cooker. You know how some dishes, by either a certain kind of flavor or a certain kind of look, just has that Crock Pot feel? This isn't one of them. In my opinion, at least.
I use bone-in chicken thighs. Thighs are my favorite part of the chicken -- they're tender and flavorful. I like using bone-in pieces because, just like making stock, when you cook it for that long, it adds an extra dimension of flavor. I also keep the skin on, then remove them and skim off the fat from the surface after the dish is done cooking. But I think this recipe would be good no matter what you use. If you want to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, more power to you. After cooking, the meat will be tender and falling off the bone at the slightest provocation.
The sauce is simply tomato paste, Guinness, and the juice from some green olives. It's incredible how, after hours of cooking and simmering with the juices from the chicken, this turns into a sauce that's complex and delicious. The olives don't turn to mush, but are soft while still maintaining their olivey-ness. Their sharpness and tang, however, definitely mellows into the sauce.
I like to serve this chicken on top of a long pasta like spaghetti, but other starches such as rice or potatoes would probably work as well. I've often doubled the recipe with great success.
Chicken in Guinness Red Sauce
- 4-6 chicken pieces (I like bone-in thighs)
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- 3/4 cup Guinness (or other dark beer)
- 4oz green olives along with juice (about 24 olives + juice)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- If you like, wash and pat dry the chicken. I don't unless they're really bloody or dirty for some reason. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, or any other preferred spices -- paprika, garlic salt, etc. Err on the side of underseasoning; if it needs more after it's cooked, you can add it then. Place the chicken pieces in the slow cooker as evenly as possible.
- Mix the tomato paste with the Guinness and pour on top of the chicken.
- Add the olives and their juice on top.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours (I've gone as long as 12 and it was fine, but not as ideal), or high for 3-4 hours.
- Taste and adjust for seasoning, then serve hot on top of pasta or rice.