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French Basil Chicken

Updated February 23, 2016
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This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

I call this French Basil Chicken to distinguish it from the well-known dish Thai basil chicken, which is also a staple at our house. This version combines chicken with the complementary flavors of tomato, artichoke and sweet red pepper. A healthy quantity of finely chopped fresh basil leaves is stirred in at the end. I like to serve this with fluffy rice garnished with plenty of toasted pine nuts.

If you prefer, substitute an equal amount of chicken stock for the wine, but be aware that you may need to reduce the amount of salt. Prepared stock varies in saltiness. Taste the stock you are using and if it seems salty, reduce the quantity of added salt. If you are concerned about sodium in your diet, use a reduced-sodium stock or make your own with no salt added (see Homemade Chicken Stock).



If your supermarket carries 19 oz (540 ml) cans of diced tomatoes, by all means substitute for the 14 oz (398 ml) called for in the recipe.

MAKE AHEAD

This recipe can be partially prepared before it is cooked. Complete Step 1. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, continue with Step 2.

Mindful Morsels: Onions are the base for so many soups, stews and sauces that we take them for granted. But onions contain many nutrients, including quercetin, a flavonoid that may stop the growth of colon cancer.


Natural Wonders: HERBS



Culinary herbs do more than add color and flavor to a dish: they also have significant health benefits. For instance, USDA researchers have found that many culinary herbs such as sage, dill, thyme, rosemary and oregano are loaded with antioxidants. It’s also worth knowing that more than half of the vitamin K in this recipe comes from the basil. Fragrant and pungent, basil also contains flavonoids, a group of phytochemcials that may protect cells and chromosomes from free radical damage. Along with isoflavones and ellagic acid, flavonoids belong to the polyphenol family of phytochemcials, which appear to have the ability to fight viruses and cancer. Moreover, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2002 linked a high intake of flavonoids with a lower incidence of heart disease and stroke. Research focused on basil’s volatile oils has shown promising results in another area. Because these compounds restrict bacterial growth, researchers are exploring their potential value in treating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Basil also contains eugenol, which inhibits activity of an enzyme causing inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

MAKES6 TO 8 SERVINGS

Cooking Methodslow cooking

CostModerate

Easy

Total Timeunder 4 hours

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, healthy, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentcrock pot

Mealdinner

Taste and Textureherby, savory, winey

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) herbes de Provence
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) salt, or to taste
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (125 ml) dry white wine (see Notes)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock (see Notes)
  • 1 can (14 oz/398 ml) diced tomatoes, including juice (see Notes)
  • 1 can (14 oz/398 ml) artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and quartered
  • 3 lbs (1.5 kg) skinless bone-in chicken thighs (about 12 thighs)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) diced red bell pepper
  • ½ (125 ml) cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

Instructions

Works in slow cookers from 3½ to 6 quarts

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, herbes de Provence, salt and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add chicken stock and tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil. Stir in artichoke hearts and remove from heat.

Arrange chicken pieces evenly over the bottom of slow cooker stoneware and cover with tomato mixture. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork. Stir in red pepper and basil. Cover and cook on High for 30 minutes, or until pepper is tender.

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