I thought it time I got over my phobia about crock pots. I don’t know what it is about them but… I get the concept, but I don’t see a reason for actually doing it.  I know, I know… put the stuff in before you go to work and dinner’s ready when you get home. It’s like sous vide cooking. Again, I get the concept. I don’t get a reason for actually doing it.

So today I decided to break my phobia. I went to the official Crock Pot website and found their number one-rated recipe for chicken.

First off – the recipe as written would require a crock pot the size of a bathtub! 8 Chicken breasts, cubed, 4 Sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed, 4 Yellow potatoes, cubed, 4 Carrots, sliced, 56 Ounces whole tomatoes, canned… and 2 cups of chicken broth. Who has a crock pot that big?!?

But I did kinda like the idea. It also called for a bit of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, paprika… The concept was sound even if the amounts were not. I started gathering up the ingredients and realized that it would actually taste better as a slow braise in the oven.

I chopped an onion and browned it a bit with the chicken. I splashed in some white wine and cooked it down a bit and then started adding the other ingredients – a bulb of sliced fennel, carrots, a single 14 oz can of diced tomatoes, sweet and gold potatoes, chicken broth, cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg, celery seed, dried basil,  and salt and pepper. I brought it to a boil, put the lid on, and put it into a 300°F oven for about three hours.

It came out great!


And whilst that was cooking, I made rolls.


These were really easy. I followed the James Beard recipe for Cuban Bread and divided the half-batch into 12 rolls, rolled them in caraway seeds, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds.

James Beard Bread Rolls


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (100° to 115°, approximately)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • Seeds of your choice


Combine the yeast with sugar and warm water in a large bowl and allow to proof. Mix the salt with the flour and add to the yeast mixture, a cup at a time, until you have a stiff dough. Remove to a lightly floured board and knead until no longer sticky, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary. Place in a buttered bowl and turn to coat the surface with butter. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours.

Punch down the dough. Turn out on a floured board and shape into a long rope. Cut into 12 pieces and roll each into a ball.  Roll each ball into seeds of your choice – sesame, poppy, caraway, whatever. Place on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with the cornmeal but not buttered. Place in a cold oven, set the temperature at 400° and place a pan of boiling water in the oven beneath the rolls. Bake about 35 minutes or until well browned.

So… I didn’t get over my crock pot phobia. Hell – I probably made it worse. But it doesn’t matter. We had a great dinner – that’s all that counts!