Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed in the United States on the third Monday in January. Since it’s a fairly new holiday, having been first observed in 1986, traditions are just being established, and celebrations vary depending on the area of the United States one happens to live in. While there are parades and various gatherings, it’s the perfect day to serve delicious “soul food” dishes. These dishes, which were mostly developed by black slaves who worked on the early southern plantations and later the black maids who cooked for the wealthy southerners after the emancipation, often use cheaper, leftover, or “throwaway” ingredients. The joke was actually on the wealthy, since the dishes were (and still are) more flavorful and delicious than anything the wealthy were probably served.
Since the slow cooker is such a timesaver for those who are busy (and who isn’t?), Southern Chicken with Hot Slaw is a great one-dish meal to serve for the MLK holiday (or anytime for that matter). It’s based on cabbage which always seemed to be available in the early south and which was often prepared as Southern Hot Slaw (where a hot sweet and sour dressing was poured over just before serving), as well as the ubiquitous chicken which was raised on every farm and plantation.
To save time when preparing this dish, coleslaw mix is available at most grocery stores and eliminates the need to slice the cabbage; bacon comes already cooked and crumbled in packages. Even better, boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs if preferred) come frozen – no need to catch and kill a chicken or pull out the feathers. Since the newer slow cookers cook faster, Slow Cooker Chicken with Hot Slaw can be ready in 2-3 hours (no need to stick around), and the actual hands-on time is minimal.
2 to 3 tablespoons bacon drippings, or vegetable oil
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cleaned and cut into serving size pieces
Flour, for dusting
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound coleslaw mix
3 tart apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup crisp crumbled bacon
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings in a large skillet over high heat.
- Dust the chicken pieces lightly with flour and brown them, adding salt and pepper to each side.
- As they brown, remove them from the skillet. They should be browned on the outside but raw in the middle.
- Meanwhile, place the coleslaw mix in a 4-6 quart slow cooker.
- Top with the apple slices.
- Arrange the browned chicken pieces on top of the apple slices.
- When the chicken pieces are browned, add the 2 tablespoons flour to the skillet, adding more bacon drippings if necessary to make a roux.
- Whisk in the salt, caraway seeds, vinegar, water, and brown sugar; cook until thick, bubbly, and smooth.
- Pour the mixture over the chicken; sprinkle with the bacon.
- Cover the slow cooker, set it to the low setting, and let cook until the chicken is cooked through, 2-3 hours. Because vegetables cook slower, the cabbage will be crisp tender, which is as it should be.
Amount Per Serving:
Calories 400 Calories from Fat 139
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 35% Protein 42% Carb. 23%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 15 g
Saturated Fat 5 g
Cholesterol 120 mg
Sodium 294 mg
Total Carbohydrate 23 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 42 g
Vitamin A 5% Vitamin C 53% Calcium 0% Iron 13%