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Slow-Cooker Chicken and Mushroom Farro Risotto

Fall is arriving in Nashville! The mornings and evenings are becoming delightfully crisp and cool, which is getting me excited for hearty cold-weather food, like stews, soups, and risottos. I recently came across this recipe for Slow-Cooker Chicken and Mushroom Farro Risotto and was intrigued. I love risotto and I really love slow-cooker meals, but I had never tried combining the two. The recipe was doubly intriguing, as it uses farro for the risotto, instead of the traditionally-used arborio rice. For those of you unfamiliar with farro (like I was until recently), it’s a hearty, nutty, wonderfully-textured ancient grain. So, this recipe got me to make risotto in the slow-cooker for the first time AND cook with farro for the first time. Gotta love trying new things in the kitchen!

Everything about this is SO delicious: the juicy, fall-apart tender chicken, the wonderfully flavorful mushrooms/onions/garlic, and the cooked-to-perfection farro, all in a truly divine, amazingly creamy parmesan sauce. I first made this on a night when my husband was not home for dinner, as he’s not a huge mushroom fan, so I didn’t think he’d dig it. After I made it + raved about how much Fearless Baby and I loved it, he asked if I’d be willing to make it again for him to try, too. I did a week later, and even though he admittedly didn’t devour every single mushroom, he said it was one of the best slow-cooker meals (and one of the best mushroom meals) he’s ever had. If this can win over a mushroom-hater, it must be truly amazing, right?! You’ve gotta give it a try + report back!

Slow-Cooker Chicken and Mushroom Farro Risotto

serves 4-6, adapted from Real Simple

Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole farro
1 3-inch piece Parmesan rind* AND 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus more grated for serving
1 bay leaf
pinch ground nutmeg
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds), (OR substitute boneless skinless chicken thighs if preferred)

*Amy’s tip: Whenever you finish up a wedge of parmesan cheese, save the rind! They are great for flavoring soups, stews, and risottos. Simply pop ’em in a ziplock bag + keep them in the freezer until needed.

Directions

In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms, and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Transfer to a 4- to 6-quart slow-cooker.

To the vegetables in the slow-cooker, add the broth, farro, Parmesan rind, bay leaf, nutmeg, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring everything together. Top with the chicken.

Cover and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours until the chicken is fork-tender and cooked through. Discard the parmesan rind and bay leaf. Remove the chicken from the slow-cooker and, using two forks, shred into large pieces. Return to the slow-cooker. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and grated parmesan to the slow cooker, and stir everything to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes more, until butter and parmesan are melted.

Serve the risotto hot with additional grated Parmesan, if desired.