Of Sunday Suppers, Slow Cookers, and Dedications

First things first. I know we don’t all have the same DNA for food memories. The best thing you’ve ever eaten might be what you ate yesterday. For me, I’ll reach a little farther back. Decades back. Back to the tiny kitchen on Peach Drive belonging to one of my grandmothers. She always cooked soul-warming Sunday suppers and never, ever ran out of food - no matter how many extra invitations were casually extended during the day. She was a mere 5 foot tall on her tallest days, and she was a powerhouse at the stove.

While her cooking was straight out country cooking, complete with iron skillets in every size, I believe she would have embraced the convenience of the slow cooker, if she’d had room in her kitchen to store it when it wasn’t in use. How she ever put together the feasts she made, I really never grasped. Her kitchen choreography was art in motion. She served one or two meats, with sometimes 3, 4, even 5 side dishes - a true groaning board of offerings.

Chicken was almost always one of the meats and when it wasn’t fried, it was often slow-cooked in a skillet or dutch oven with potatoes or rice. This chicken dish reminds me of her cooking -full and flavorful, and slow cooked for tender goodness.

I dedicated my upcoming book to my grandmothers “Lorraine (Nana), who taught me all the Southern manners and proper hostess etiquette I would ever need to know, and Claudia (Nana Stuffie), who taught me all that really matters is platters of great food and an extra place at the table.” I think they’d both like this recipe.

Rosemary-Garlic Chicken Quarters
Serves 6 - 8 (Hands-on 25 min; Total 4 hours, 25 min)

3 carrots or celery ribs
5 pounds chicken leg quarters
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
12 garlic cloves, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 pounds fingerling Yukon gold potatoes, halved lengthwise

1. Place carrots in a single layer in a 5-quart slow cooker.

2. Remove skin from chicken. Stir together rosemary, paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Rub mixture over chicken.

3. Sauté garlic in 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat 1 minute, or until browned. Transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon; reserve oil in skillet. Cook half of chicken in reserved oil in skillet 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until deep golden brown. Transfer to slow cooker, reserving drippings in skillet. Repeat with remaining chicken.

4. Add broth and garlic to reserved drippings in skillet and cook 1 minute., stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet; pour over chicken in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 2 hours.

5. Toss potatoes with 1 teaspoon oil and remaining salt and pepper; add to slow cooker. Cover and cook 2 more hours.

6. Transfer chicken and potatoes to a serving dish and pour juices from slow cooker through a mesh strainer into a bowl. Serve immediately with chicken and potatoes.

©Sunday Suppers: Simple, Delicious Menus for Family Gatherings by Cynthia Graubart (Oxmoor House, November 2017)