Slow and Sweet Honey Ginger Chicken

or kicked up sweets in a weekday pantry dinner.

So, yeah, here we are again.  Back from a lovely vacation with absolutely nothing in the house to eat.  You've been there - pushing the trip up to right when you have to go back to work and then flat out refusing to end your time off with a trip to the grocery store madhouse on Sunday night to keep it from sucking out all the relaxation you managed to build up while away.  A quick run to the store after work on Monday yielded chicken thighs, three types of bread, and boneless pork chops.  Ok, not the best thought out trip but since I wasn't feeling well I considered it a success that I came home with anything!  Then I had drive through soup from the local Coney Island for dinner.  Don't judge, you know you've done it.

Back to work and it's day two: with my husband out working at their corporate office this week I couldn't rely on him to whip together some form of out of the box meal while I laid on the couch trying to recover from whatever this cold/flu season has so inconsiderately thrown at me, so I was stuck trying to come up with something the required minimal effort and could come magically from the nonperishable ingredients I still had in the pantry.  This time it actually helped that I was already hungry that morning.  I openned the refridgerator and pulled out the chicken and grabbed the soy sauce, rummaging through the pantry I came across some honey and rice vinagar, I grabbed the slow cooker out of the cupboard and set to work.  Ginger seemed like a likely compliment so I pulled it out of the freezer, I've found that a solid piece of fresh ginger keeps longer in a bag in the freezer and grates much easier - bonus - I get to add a little extra flair to my meals even when the supplies are running bare.  Then I set to work assembling what I hoped would be a satisfying dinner for the evening.  Definitely a different flavor than many of my meals but the sweetness of the honey with a bit of tang from the vinegar created a surprisingly subtle blend of flavors that I am now excited to make again.

6 chicken thighs, no bones or skin
3 tbsp dried minced onion
⅓ cup chicken broth
½ cup honey
½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
½ tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp minced garlic
4 tbsp rice vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce 
Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp ketchup
White rice

1. I prefer to use homemade chicken stock that I store frozen in muffin cup sized portions so it makes for a nice base to "stand" the chicken on at the beginning.  If you are using stock that is already in liquid form  it will work just fine, but you may want to spray the interior of the slow cooker with non-stick spray before starting.  Place the stock in the slow cooker first then add the chicken in a single layer.  Season with the salt, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, and ginger making sure you cover the chicken evenly.

2. Next add the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, onion, and minced garlic. Cover the chicken evenly with the honey and sprinkle the rice vinegar over the top.  It should have a nice shine over the chicken.  Do not worry about mixing the sauce at this point, let each part have its independence and it will all come together in the end.

3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  If you are going to be around the house feel free to flip the chicken halfway through, not necessary but if you don't want the top to get a bit of the caramelized crispy texture from the honey (one of my favorite parts) then this would help.  The chicken will be moist either way.

4. Remove the chicken to a separate dish and drizzle some of the sauce over top.  In the slow cooker, turn it to high and whisk in the ketchup until well blended.  This should help thicken the sauce a bit.  Return the chicken to the cooker and spoon some of the sauce over each piece.  Continue to cook on high for 10-15 min while preparing the rice.

5. Serve hot over rice with extra sauce drizzled on top.

The chicken pulls apart on its own as you lift it out of the sauce, this gives it the opportunity to pick up even more flavor as it makes its way to the plate.  Add more or less sauce depending on how strong you want the flavor to be, and don't forget to add some salt or soy sauce to taste if needed.  I like to sneak a pat of butter between the rice and the chicken, you can't eat rice without butter right?  Or maybe that's just me... Anyway, serve it up as you wish, add your own little twist.  But most of all, as always, enjoy!

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