Slow-Cooker Braised Chicken with Bacon, Brussels Sprouts, and Root Vegetables
Inspired by coq au vin, this colorful dish balances the earthiness of mushrooms, bittersweet notes of Brussels sprouts, and smokiness of bacon. Feel free to use any type of mushroom. If you don’t eat pork, omit the bacon—just swap in oil or butter to cook the chicken and use a bit more salt.
6 whole bone-in, skinless chicken legs (scant 4-1⁄2 lb.)
1⁄2 cup plus 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1-1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
14 grinds black pepper, divided
1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg
12 oz. center-cut, uncured smokehouse bacon, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
4-1⁄2 cups 1⁄2-inch diced peeled celeriac (about 1)
1-3⁄4 cups 1⁄2-inch slices peeled carrots (about 6 small)
1 yellow onion, halved and cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick slices
6 cloves garlic
2 Tbs. tomato paste
3⁄4 cup brandy
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 tsp. honey
1-1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, halved and cores cut out (about 4-1/2 cups)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1-1/4 lb. cremini mushrooms, de-stemmed and quartered
In a large bowl, coat the chicken with the flour, shaking off and reserving the excess. Sprinkle the chicken all over with a total of 1 tsp. of the salt, 10 grinds of the pepper, and the nutmeg. Place the bacon in a single layer in a cold, 10-inch, heavy sauté pan. Heat over medium and cook until most of the fat renders, about 9 minutes. Raise the heat to medium high and cook until golden brown and a bit crisp, stirring, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bacon to the slow cooker (don’t leave any bacon bits in the pan).
Add half of the chicken to the hot pan and cook until lightly golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining chicken, about another 5 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. Pour all but about 2 Tbs. of the bacon fat into a small bowl and reserve. Add the celeriac, carrots, onions, and garlic to the hot pan, and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 7 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker and top with the chicken.
Add another Tbs. of bacon fat plus the tomato paste and any remaining flour to the sauté pan. Cook, stirring, until no flour is visible, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, carefully add the brandy, then return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, whisking, until the sauce is smooth and a bit thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in the stock and honey, and cook for another 2 minutes, whisking, until the sauce is smooth. Pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on low until the chicken is tender, 4 to 4-1⁄2 hours.
Meanwhile, bring a covered pot of heavily salted water to a boil. When boiling, add the Brussels sprouts and cook over high heat until they’re tender but still have a slight bite, about 7 minutes. Set aside. Heat 2 Tbs. of the bacon fat and the butter in a 10-inch, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the mushrooms, the remaining 1⁄4 tsp. salt, and 4 grinds pepper, and sauté until browned and tender, about 9 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the slow cooker, mix in the cooked vegetables (let them sit in the slow cooker for about 10 minutes if they’ve cooled), and add back in the chicken. Serve.