People and Food: Slow Cooked Chicken Ragout

For days spent at a dock, here's a meal that can cook itself while you're busy with boat chores.

Slow cooked chicken ragout
A meal that cooks itselfLynda Morris Childress

When my husband and I are cruising out of our Florida home port on Sasha, our Island Packet 40, we don't go into marinas unless we have jobs to do — tasks that are easier to accomplish from a secure slip. Whenever we are at a dock, we're busy, so we try to make cooking easier (and take advantage of shore power). When we first went cruising, I impulsively packed my slow cooker, feeling a bit silly, but whenever we're at a dock, it pays off! We're not away from home, but when we're at a slip, we're too occupied with boat chores to cook. At the end of a busy day, we can relax over a dinner that prepared itself. This is one of our favorites. If you don't have a Crock-Pot or slow cooker, this can be slow cooked for a shorter time in the oven (with adequate fuel). When slow cooking, never leave the boat unattended — and enjoy that delicious aroma as your meal cooks!

Slow-Cooked Chicken Ragout

  • 2–3 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2–3 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2–3 ribs celery, sliced
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 package dry onion soup mix
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
  • Parsley, for garnish (optional)

*Chicken breasts tend to dry out with prolonged slow cooking.

In a large bowl, toss ­veggies and chicken with oil. Add onion-soup mix. Toss or stir again to combine. ­Lightly oil the Crock-Pot or slow ­cooker, if desired. Empty the can of soup into it. Add wine and chicken broth, and stir ­until smooth and lump free. Add veggies, thyme sprigs (if ­using) and pepper to pot. Add chicken and stir to coat in sauce. Cover and cook for 6 – 8 hours on low heat or 2½ – 3 hours on high, until veggies are tender and chicken is cooked to between 165°F and 175°F when tested with a meat thermometer. Garnish each serving with a bit of chopped parsley. Serves 2–4. NOTE: Temperatures of Crock-Pots and slow cookers can vary slightly, along with cooking times. Follow manufacturer’s instructions; average temperatures are between 200°F (low) and 300°F (high).

Test for doneness and ­adjust cooking time ­accordingly.

Preparation: At anchor or dock
Time: 3 1/2 to 8 1/2 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Cook's Notes: It's vital to follow the manufacturer's safety instructions when using a slow cooker, especially on board. I recommend using one with a removable crock for easy washing and in a size that's easy to safely stow when not in use.