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I love using my slow cooker all year long. However, when the cool weather of fall and winter arrive, you can find slow cooker meals on my menu a couple times a week. There is nothing like coming home to the warm smells of dinner when cold winds are blowing outside. With busy school and sport schedules, I can serve a delicious, healthy, warming meal to my family with minimal work on my part when I use my slow cooker. Slow-cooked meals also help keep my grocery budget in check. Bean and lentil dishes cook up wonderfully in a crock pot giving time for seasoning to work their way through the dish. Cuts of meat that are more economical can be used as the slow braising renders those cuts tender and juicy.
Slow Cooker Pulled Italian Chicken and Kale is one of my family’s favorite meals. I use boneless skinless chicken thighs as they hold up better in a slow cooker than chicken breasts. Chicken thighs also have more iron and zinc than chicken breasts, a bonus for your health during cold season! Stirring in kale near the end of cooking time keeps the hearty green from over-cooking and gives the dish a pop of color. This meal is a great introduction for family members who may not like to eat greens. The herbs, garlic, and chicken help balance the flavor of the kale to win over the pickiest of eaters.
Serve Slow Cooker Pulled Italian Chicken and Kale in gluten-free buns for shredded chicken sandwiches, over baked sweet potatoes, cauliflower puree or “riced” cauliflower, or use as a topping on gluten free pizza. My kids even like it warmed and put into a thermos bowl with a side of broccoli in their lunch box. This recipe freezes wonderfully. After allowing the chicken to cool, package the leftovers in a freezer safe container, removing as much air as possible before labeling and freezing.
Other ways to use your slow cooker this season:
- Creamy CrockPot Pumpkin Risotto
- Make-Ahead Slow Cooker Apple Cranberry Oatmeal
- Burgundy Mushroom Stew
- Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter
What do you like to make in a slow cooker?
Slow Cooker Pulled Italian Chicken and Kale
Serves 12, or six for two meals
- 3 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 cups of your favorite gluten and dairy free spaghetti sauce
- 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning, purchased or homemade
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 cups lightly packed diced kale, cleaned with stems removed
- salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- In a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker, place chicken. Add sauce, Italian seasoning, and garlic. Stir until chicken is evenly coated with sauce. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
- When done cooking, take chicken out of slow cooker and put on platter. Stir diced kale into sauce in slow cooker. Set temperature to high setting and leave lid OFF of the slow cooker during this step.
- Using two forks shred cooked chicken thighs. When all the chicken is shredded, add it back to slow cooker. Stir to evenly distribute the kale and sauce. Cover slow cooker for 10 minutes until chicken is warmed through.
- Serve on gluten-free buns, baked sweet or russet potatoes, over quinoa, gluten free noodles, or as a topping for pizza.