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Why was chicken cooked in slow cooker bland? [Moved from Cookware]

I made curried chicken [thighs and legs] in the slow cooker. The recipe called for onion, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cloves, cardamon, and crushed red pepper flakes. Spices were good so that was not the problem. But when the chicken was cooked the sauce was bland and without flavor. I followed the recipe which called for adding spices, etc at beginning of cook time. Should I have added them later? At the end? What happened???

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  1. What was the age of spices? Usually those are spices that will hold up for long cooking, so my thought would be that they might be suffering from sitting around for ages disease like half my spices.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Nocturnalbill

      Actually the spices were really "fresh" - smell and taste were fine. We have a store here that sells spices in small amounts [bulk foods type place] and I had just bought all the spices.

    2. No browning .....therefore no caramelization....less flavor

      4 Replies
      1. re: fourunder

        Would that explain the total loss of "spice flavor"? The recipe did not include a browning step and presumably there was some curry flavor or why call it curried chicken?

        1. re: Bethcooks

          With due respect.......I am not familiar with crockpot cooking.....other than you combine a lot of ingredients into a vessel, turn a knob and come back 8 hours later and you have a meal. I have a couple of different crockpots and i have used them for corned beef, pot roasts and stews...but they never seem to come out as good as a braise on the stove top or in the oven...

          I suspect it has to due with the first steps of sauteing the mirepoix , then browning the meats.....steps that are generally skipped when using the slow cookers. Adding the spices to the higher heat in the beginning, with olive oil, releases more natural oils in the spices....or at least that is how it is explained to me.....also, bruising any spices also releases the oil content, rather than just throwing them in.

          1. re: fourunder

            That is a very interesting point - spices may have needed to be sauted in oil. I usually do it that way. I am new to slow cooker cooking so just blindly followed recipe. Will try that.

            1. re: fourunder

              Even if you're not a slow cooker person, fourunder, you hit the nail on the head. If you want good results from a slow cooker, you can't just throw everything in there and turn it on. For me, it's more work but being busy in the late afternoon, I can come home to dinner that's cooked.

              Thighs and legs are the way to go but chicken skin turns out mushy in the slow cooker so I remove those first. I'd rub the chicken w/ spices and sear and then add to crockpot. In the pan where I seared the chicken, I add aromatics, vegetables, etc. and sautee them in chicken fat, residue. Add wine or alcohol to deglaze and burn off. Then add the stock, much less than you'd use if you were to braise on the stove or in the oven. Then, add all that to the slow cooker. To make it more complicated, to thicken the sauce, I remove the chicken/meat, transfer the sauce to the stove and thicken it, either w/ an immersion blender, if there are enough vegetables, or add beurre manier or cornstarch w/ water and then season to taste.

              I know people claim to get great results just throwing everything in but I haven't found that to be the case. Before I pick up any slow cooker cook book, I look at the recipes and see the methods first. That all said, I don't find the results from the slow cooker to be better than the stove or oven but it's convenient.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Forgot to say salt. There was salt but nothing really acid.

            2. Probably not enough salt, possibly not enough acid.

              Also, all of the spices you added are fine to add early in the cooking time. But if you want any of them a little sharper and more distinct in the sauce, you might want to add them just and hour or so before you're finished cooking.

              Browning adds its own flavor, but shouldn't do anything much to intensify flavor that should already be there.

              It also might have helped to reduce the sauce more.