I’m an avid Pioneer Woman reader and recently she posted a recipe for Penne with Chicken Thighs. As I read her recipe I started thinking about the boneless skinless chicken thighs in my freezer (I get the organic ones from Costco in bulk and freeze them). Then she mentioned this uses store bought marinara (I get the low fat stuff in a can from Trader Joe’s, it made me give up making my own it’s so good!) and that you can use a slow cooker. Basically, I had everything on hand and could throw it in a slow cooker– one of my favorite ways to cook– and have dinner done that easy.

Pioneer Woman's Penne with Chicken Thighs

Where I departed from her recipe is that she used chicken with skin and bones. She also browned them with onion and garlic. Instead, I tossed the raw defrosted chicken in the slow cooker (I used my 2-quart size one which easily fit the pound of chicken thighs), poured in half of my large can of marinara, three smashed cloves of garlic and some glugs of red wine. I also had some tomato-basil-onion “salsa” that I had made and added about a cup of that. Then cover and let it do it’s thing for a few hours.

As you can see here, because I added extra liquid in the wine and “salsa” and I was only cooking for three hours on high, I left the lid not on all the way so some of the liquid would evaporate. If I was making this before going to work, I’d probably leave this on “warm” (since my cooker has that setting) or low with the lid on. Once I got home I’d probably switch it to high and remove the lid to let it reduce a little.

At the last minute I added some capers with some of their juice to add a little salty- briney kick and it was much needed. At our house we almost exclusively eat wheat pasta so this is wheat pasta spaghetti under the chicken and sauce. Sorry, my image is unedited– besides Pioneer Woman’s picture looks better because she made it!– but I assure you this was very good. I’m looking forward to trying this again with the all-day cooking on the lowest setting and would imagine the chicken will be even more tender. It could also probably go in without totally being defrosted and will make magic over the course of a few hours.

What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes?