Recipes: Slow cooker cream of mushroom chicken

When I came to Korea, I had to sadly part with my slow cooker which I was gifted through a secret santa gift exchange in college (it's now being put to good use by my family apparently).

Then two winters ago I was shopping around at a Costco here with my friend Sandra when I noticed they were carrying slow cookers for sale! I contemplated a bit but chose not to purchase one immediately but Sandra must have seen how excited I was looking at it because she ended up surprising me that Christmas with one as a gift!

Slow cookers definitely aren't well known around here in Korea and I've actually had more than a few local friends here initially balk at its premise:

"So... you just leave it on all day? Like, literally all day?"
"What if it catches on fire?"

"Doesn't that eat up a lot of electricity?" 

It's been tough to use here though as many of the recipes found for slow cookers are western dishes and some of the commonly used ingredients for them are either pretty difficult to find (such as Lipton's dry onion soup mix) or comparatively pricier here (an entire block of cream cheese? sigh).

I'm quite certain galbi jjim (braised short ribs) would be a perfect dish to make in a slow cooker but that remains on my list of dishes to try out (I'll make sure to let you know how that goes).

Determined to show my Korean friends here the power of the slow cooker, I came across a slow cooker recipe using canned cream of mushroom soup and chicken as its base, which I had on hand, that I decided to try out.

My feelings towards cream of mushroom soup is quite odd; I remember as a kid growing up in rainy Portland, my mom would sometimes have a hot bowl waiting for me on the table after school with some lightly toasted white bread for dipping on the side and that thought alone brings out some major nostalgia in me.

A steaming bowl on a rainy day with some good bread on the side... yes, please



On the other hand, the grown-up side of me gets a bit squeamish thinking about what actually goes into the canned stuff's making, which is probably why I'm deliberately choosing to not read the nutrition label on a can anytime soon.

But hey, stepping away from all that nit picky nutrition and processed food talk for a moment, my reasoning is that since I'm not chowing down on the cans on a daily basis, using it to cook or eat every once in a while should be OK. If I come across any major health issues stemming from its consumption, I'll let you know.

And look, if you've got the time and energy to whip up your own cream of mushroom and then use it for this recipe, good for you. I'm actually envious. But for the rest of us who already feel there's not enough hours in a day, coming home to a nice meal from work after having chucked in a bunch of stuff in a slower cooker in the morning can't come as relief enough.

This is basically a template recipe. I would say tamper with it to find the taste you want and then you'll end up with a go-to recipe. My experiment had me adding a lot more veggies to try and balance it out, unlike most similar recipes I found online..

Slow cooker cream of mushroom chicken
Serves 5
Total time: 4-6 hours

Ingredients:
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup (substituting with a different cream of ____ soup should be fine)
- 8 or so button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup of frozen peas
- 1 broccoli, cut up into tiny pieces
- 1/2 tbsp of minced garlic (I like garlic so I go with about a full tbsp)
- 1/2 cup of white wine or chicken broth
- 1/2 cup of milk

1. Combine all the ingredients in your slow cooker and give it a mix

2. Cook on low setting for 6 hours or on high setting for 3-4 hours or until chicken is thoroughly cooked 

3. Occasionally give it a stir especially if you're cooking on high

4. Once done, you can either choose to shred the chicken breasts or leave the breasts whole, as is

5. Serve over a bed of pasta and/or rice with some more of the sauce on top and a simple salad with it. I also like to have some Tabasco on hand to dash on top for a little kick. Sriracha should be a perfectly fine addition too

The Tabasco adds a nice kick but feel free to omit. I served it over some pasta and with a simple salad of sprouts and cherry tomatoes in a vinaigrette on the side


Tips: 
- Try and use unfrozen chicken breasts. You can use frozen but just know it will release more water during the cooking process, making the sauce more watery or blander. Just taste (towards the end process of cooking) and adjust with salt
- I've also seen variations in which people will put in a package of onion soup mix or italian salad dressing mix in the slow cooker. I've also seen a recipe which called for putting an entire block of cream cheese on top for the final 30 minutes for a creamier, cheesier version. Try out different variations to see which is to your liking
- Another variation I saw had the chicken breasts first being cooked in a pan before being thrown into the slow cooker with the other ingredients. Haven't tried it myself but I'm interested to try next time
- The vegetables I put in were some of the vegetables I had on hand to put in. Feel free to add in your own such as potatoes, carrots, onions, corn, etc. Just make sure you have a good balance with the ingredients for the sauce then such as the canned soup, chicken broth/white wine, etc
- Leftovers can be frozen and reheated for a nice quick meal in the future

My Korean friends were quite impressed and for a dish that hardly required any preparations beforehand it was gobbled up pretty quickly. 

One of them even mentioned interest in purchasing a slow cooker after the meal too :P