Thursday, 25 July 2019

My Slow Cooker Chicken, Vegetable and Broad Bean Casserole to Comfort the Soul

This casserole cooked in my slow cooker is brilliant for time poor people trying to feed a busy family with nutritious food and with minimal fuss. I've aimed to make it as uncomplicated as possible, with minimal chopping and preparation. I grew up eating a lot of chicken and beef casseroles prepared by my Mum, one a week probably, and I generally just make one for us now using what I have on hand and not sticking to a particular recipe. However when I sat down to write up a recipe and test it out I was quite challenged because I wanted it to work for all cooks, those that have time and love to cook and those that are challenged just to get a meal on the table. So this is a recipe with options. I hope you enjoy it and I urge you to try it. Casseroles are really a cinch to make.

This recipe are is easy on the budget and easy on your time. When I was in Perth last week I made an off the cuff simple chicken casserole in the slow cooker for my son's family and my daughter in law said she really enjoyed it. She is French, and I had never thought before about casseroles originating in France. French casseroles were called a Cassoulet,  a beautiful word don't you think so it was the perfect meal to cook for them, particularly during their chilly Winter and with a very young family needing to be cared for. Cassoulets traditionally used meats such as sausage, pork, duck fat and legumes such as white beans, so instead I have used chicken and Broad Beans but the the concept is the same, long slow cooking for maximum flavour.

Our darling grandson is like a lot of children, he can be a fussy eater when it comes to eating vegetables unless they are hidden, and the beauty of a casserole is that the vegetables can be chopped very finely, too soft and small to be picked out, which he will do. So this recipe is for all of those young and older people who need a nutritious meal at the end of the day, with a simple approach, and with the option to chop up all the vegetables finely for fussy kids and adults, if you have the time.

Some people who don't particularly like cooking, also don't like handling raw meat. For this recipe I suggest buying chicken thigh cutlets with the bone in which gives the dish more flavour, but the skin removed if you can buy them that way. Sometimes you can but they are more expensive. Otherwise the skin will need to be removed which is very easy, it just pulls off in a flash, no need to try and cut it off, just pull it off. Wear plastic gloves if you must. There are also people who are good cooks, but still don't have a lot of confidence cooking a simple casserole. This recipe is also for you. A casserole  can  be cooked in a covered earthenware or Pyrex casserole dish in the oven for 1 1/2 hours at 160 degrees if that is what you prefer, it is just as easy except it definitely needs to be taken out after 1 1/2 hours, and checked for seasoning, that it hasn't dried out, or if it needs to be thickened,  and the ingredients will need to be halved to fit in the dish.  A casserole is traditionally cooked in a covered dish in the oven, whereas a stew is commonly cooked in a saucepan on the stove top or over a fire, long and slow.

This recipe serves 6 people as the ingredients will fit into a slow cooker pot, and I try to cook enough to freeze some for another meal. I cook from scratch as much as possible, but I don't want to spend more time in the kitchen than I need to, and this makes it a very economical way to cook, maximising the value of my freezer and the use of my time.

If you like your casserole juices a little thicker, I  suggest dusting the chicken pieces with 2 tablespoons of flour so that the juices will thicken as it cooks. Or the whole thing can be thickened after cooking by adding water to 2 tablespoons flour until it is slightly runny with no lumps, and then stirring this through the mixture while it is still very hot and letting it simmer for 5 minutes or so to thicken. The best way though is to flour the chicken and add a little to the chicken stock as well.

Season the dish to taste and serve with vegetables of your choice such as broccoli and cauliflower, or even brown rice to soak up the juices.


Serves 6 people, and with leftovers

2 kg skinless chicken thigh cutlets, with bone in, skin removed (10 thighs)
3 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
20g butter
1 large brown onion, chopped coarsely or a chopped leek.
4 crushed garlic cloves, or equivalent garlic from a bottle
1 1/2 cups cups low salt or homemade chicken stock, or replace 1 cup with a cup of white wine
3 carrots sliced thickly, or finely chopped (whatever you prefer and have the time for)
3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons French Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups frozen broad beans or 1 can white cannelini beans
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon plus extra parsley to serve (or just use all parsley) I have fresh tarragon growing in my garden so I use it.

Optional vegetables can be added: 500g button mushrooms cooked whole, or a couple of chopped zucchinis, or some small new potatoes, 2 per person


This is a special note for my "time poor" cooking friends:-
The following is the method I would use for cooking a casserole when I have plenty of time, and for maximum flavour.  However, not all the Steps are absolutely essential, and when you just need to get a meal on the table, with minimum work, please  eliminate steps 2, 3, 5, and even 7, if you can't be bothered with Broad beans.  It will still work and taste delicious. If you aren't going to toss the chicken in flour for browning and thickening which is fine, reduce the amount of chicken stock to 1/2 a cup, a casserole generates a lot of its own juices anyway. You can also dust your chicken with flour and not brown them, and add 1 cup of chicken stock, that will work just as well.

*Step 1.
Wash the vegetables, except the onion, and chop either finely for hidden vegetables in your dish, or into small bite size portions.

Step 2. Toss the chicken in the flour in a large plastic bag, shake off the excess and reserve the excess flour.

Add oil and butter to a frying pan and fry the chicken thighs quickly on moderately high heat until browned. (You might be able to do this in your slow cooker if it has the settings.)  Set chicken pieces aside.

Step 3. Cook the onion, carrot and celery in the same fry pan stirring until softened. Add the garlic until it is fragrant.

*Step 4. Place half the vegetables in the slow cooker pot. Add the chicken pieces and chopped herbs on top, cover with the rest of the vegetables and onion. If you haven't browned the chicken and cooked the vegetables, at this point pour the chicken stock, tomato paste and mustard  over the vegetables straight into the pot.

Step 5.  Add the stock or white wine, tomato paste and  mustard to the same fry pan with any extra flour,  stir and bring to the boil and thicken slightly, loosening all of the delicious brownings in the pan with your spoon. Then pour this over the contents of the slow cooker.

Step 6. Cook on low temperature for 3 hours.

Step 7. Meanwhile place the broad beans in a medium heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Stand for 2 minutes and drain. Peel away the grey skins.

Step 8. Remove the lid of the cooker and add the broad beans to the cooker pot. Close the lid. Cook on low for another 30 minutes. I have a Stew/Curry program on mine which I use for the last 30 minutes. Test at the end of this time that the chicken is cooked and the vegetables are tender.

Step 9. Season to taste.

Step 10. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and even some chopped nuts such as walnuts and some green vegetables or serve it with brown rice. The Aussie way is to also just eat it on toast for real comfort food.

Serves 6 with approx 320 calories per serve.

Another quick tip to save time,  the chicken can be browned off the night before, the vegetables sauteed, and the stock and sauces made. Store them in the frig overnight in separate containers, and then just assemble in the slow cooker in the morning or when you have time. We all know that the morning is when the mayhem starts.

So my friends do you prefer to cook a casserole in your oven or in your slow cooker if you have one? Do you eat casseroles very often? I'd love to hear from you.

Bon appetit.

Best wishes,



  1. I make soups more often than casseroles. Even now I have a vegetable soup in the pressure cooker. 😊

    This casserole looks delicious, just like everything else you make.

    1. I make a lot of soups as well Nil, theya re great value and so nutritious. Thanks, Pauline

  2. Slow cooking is definitely the way to go for me, Pauline. I like having dinner cooked for me at the end of the day. I must be getting lazy in my old age. LOL!

    1. Not lazy Chel, just smart. I know what you mean about it being cooked for you, and delicious.Thanks Pauline

  3. i do love a chicken casserole. i don't have a slow cooker (not even sure what it is) so mine definitely go in the oven. cheers sherry

    1. An oven cooked casserole does the trick, however I do love my slow cooker. Thanks Sherry.

  4. This looks very tasty. I love chicken with the skin on and always try and buy that just for the added flavour :D

    1. Thanks Lorraine, yes the skin tastes so good.Where would we be without chickens?
      Thanks, Pauline

  5. I love this dish, what a lovely way to fragrance the house with delectable aromas and feed a hearty dish to your family. Win, win :D

  6. This is my kind of winter cooking. Luckily for me my grandchild loves vegetables.

    1. This is perfect Tandy as you head into Winter in the Northern Hemisphere.A child that likes vegetables certainly makes cooking for them easy. Thanks for dropping by.


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