Sunday, December 23, 2012

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken and Dressing

A super easy and moist crockpot chicken and dressing, made using a packaged stuffing mix like Pepperidge Farm, adding in sauteed onion and celery, cooked chicken and cream soup, blended with chicken stock.
A super easy and moist crockpot chicken and dressing, made using a packaged stuffing mix, sauteed onion and celery, cooked chicken and cream soup, blended with chicken stock.

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken and Dressing

The concept of slow cooker dressing certainly isn't unique to me - you'll find a multitude of recipes online and at other blogs and websites, all slightly different from one another.

This method actually dates back to the late 70s in my recipe box, a time when convenience products and crockpots were all the rage with us working women. I used to rely on my crockpot a lot back then, but then fell away from it for years because I got bored with the way they cooked. Then I started blogging, finally upgraded my slow cooker, educated myself a little bit better on slow cookery and slowly started to build up my collection of recipes again.

This is a great shortcut recipe because it uses cream soups and packaged stuffing mix (such as Pepperidge Farm), but don't scoff at that, because they are both great time savers. Packaged stuffing mix is simply cornbread or bread that has already been crumbled or cubed, toasted and tossed with seasonings - nothing weird, that's it. Using them makes this not only super easy to make, but also results in a wonderfully tasty and moist dressing, whether you use it with chicken or turkey added in, or not.

You can certainly make up your own cornbread and bread for this recipe, breaking it up and toasting it, or even use my recipe for homemade chicken and dressing and layer that in the crockpot too, but this version just saves a few of those steps. Now.... there is one very important thing to note.

As with any packaged product today, you do need to take into consideration the seasonings that are included, and the higher sodium levels of a packaged product - which frankly, seems to have gotten a lot more salty to my taste-buds the past few years. Everything packaged - from boxed convenience meals to chips - all taste so highly salted to me, and I'm guessing that the salt is replacing some of those nasty preservatives that consumers demanded be removed. Luckily, I've experimented with the cream soups and discovered that while the reduced sodium and fat versions may not work as well with some casseroles, they do seem to work well with this slow cooker dressing. I also recommend using a lower sodium chicken broth when using the packaged stuffing, but not using freshly toasted bread or cornbread.

I had a package of Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing in my pantry that needed to be used, so that's what I used today, but their herb bread stuffing is just as good, if you prefer that. A combination of the two is also very good. Like so many other products today, the large bags of stuffing have also shrunk from its original 16 ounce bag to now 14 ounces, but the recipe still seems to hold its own, despite the loss of a few ounces. I do not recommend the cubed style version of stuffing mix because the liquid to bread ratio has not been adjusted for that and your dish may be too dry. If you use a boxed stuffing (like StoveTop) please understand that those are generally only about 6 ounces, so you will need several of them.

If you prefer to use fresh bread or cornbread instead, make a 9 x 13 pan of your favorite, crumble the cornbread or whatever breads you are using and toast them first. Use the regular great for cooking cream soups and regular chicken broth, rather than the low sodium products, add a little poultry seasoning and bump up the herbs to make up for the loss of seasoning in the Pepperidge Farms mix.

Like my regular oven baked stuffing, I use a bit of the Bell's seasoning in place of plain sage. Bell's is a mixture of several seasonings, including rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, and marjoram, and really adds a nice flavor punch to any dressing. If you don't have access to Bell's, or you don't feel like making up a copycat batch, just use plain sage, or add a couple tiny pinches of some or all of those seasonings.

Sage is a highly pungent, musky herb and it only takes a little to add flavor, so unless you already know you love an extreme sage flavor, go very light with it. You'll only need about 1 teaspoon of dry rubbed sage for this recipe, or about 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped sage leaves. As always, season lightly first with all seasonings and herbs, then taste and adjust. You can add, but you cannot take away.

Because it's usually only me and The Cajun eating this, I usually make a half recipe the same way it was originally written back in the day, with a 3-1/2 quart, round slow cooker, and still do for just The Cajun and me. Since most everybody uses a 6-quart these days, I've written the recipe for the larger cooker, with the understanding that you can certainly halve it for the smaller 3-1/2 quart cooker.

While a lot of folks rely on their slow cookers for dressing on the holidays when the oven is otherwise occupied, you really don't have to wait for a holiday to enjoy a nice chicken and dressing supper. Let the slow cooker do the work for you, add a green vegetable and a salad, and some sweet tea, and you've got a nice and easy meal anytime of the year.

This really is the easiest dressing ever, it's always well received, and there's nothing to it. Frankly, nobody but you needs to know just how easy it was. Step by step photos are of 1/2 of the recipe. Here's how to make it.

First, I prefer to saute the veggies, so add the chopped onion and celery to a skillet with the melted butter, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together the soups and chicken broth; set aside.

Add the stuffing mix, poultry seasoning and sage to the sauteed veggies and toss. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

Spray a 6-quart crockpot with cooking spray and add a thin layer of the soup in the bottom of the cooker. Add 1/3 of the stuffing mixture, topped with 1/2 of the chicken, topped with 1/3 of the soup mixture.

Repeat, ending with the remaining soup.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, high 3 to 4. Transfer to serving dish if desired.

For more of my favorite slow cooker recipes, visit my Pinterest page!

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Posted by on December 23, 2012
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