Similar to the celebrated Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, this is a meal that, for my money, didn’t kick it right out of the starting gate, but turned up the flavor factor over the next 24 hours.
I’m wary of crock pot recipes with chicken, and you should be too, because the bird tends to dry out before the cook time is done. People are always stopping me on the street and saying, “But Gary, how do I keep my crock pot chicken from drying out?” Actually, they more often say things like, “You’re too old to wear a t-shirt that tight.” or “Hey you psycho, put my baby down!”
But asking me how to prevent chicken from drying out is definitely in the top five.
There are a couple changes I’d make to this recipe the next time out. Give them a shot and let me know how it goes in the comments.
1.) Don’t shred the chicken at the end. Keep the breasts whole or, at most, slice them in half.
2.) Spill about 1/4 cup of oil over the chicken when you first put it into the crock. This is the trick that helped me out when I made Lemon Garlic Chicken. I used thigh bones and the meat was plenty juicy when I served it up.
3.) Thicken the sauce a bit so it adheres better to the chicken and the pasta. I thought this mixture was too watery. There are a lot of great ways to do this. You can add in an equal mixture of corn starch and water. Start by combining a teaspoon of each, and check it over the next half hour, adding more if needed. Another way to go is to add in a cup of Italian breadcrumbs. Or if you’re really itching to sew this sucker up in record time, you can just drop in a cup of jarred pasta sauce. As Julia Child reminds us in the video at 2:55 below, “Whoooo is going to see!?”
Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Pasta from Damn Delicious
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 pound penne
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Place chicken into a 6-qt slow cooker.
In a large bowl, combine crushed tomatoes, onion, basil, oregano, parsley and red pepper flakes, if using. Stir into the slow cooker and gently toss to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours.
Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred, using two forks.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
Stir pasta and chicken into the slow cooker; top with cheeses.
Cover and cook on low heat for an additional 10-20 minutes, or until the cheeses have melted.
Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.