Recipe Substitutes – Slow Cooker Chicken and Cherries

Every other week I do my best to introduce a new recipe into our meal list. This keeps us from feeling like we’re eating the same thing day in and day out. My husband sometimes feels like a guinea pig, but I can attest that there have only been a few truly terrible outcomes from my new recipes.

Before getting into the recipe, I should first let you guys know how I cook. Basically, I tend to start with a recipe, realize I don’t have half of the ingredients, and then I just start throwing ingredients and herbs into the pot. Maybe not the best way to use a recipe, but I’d rather use what I’ve already got than go out and buy a bunch of ingredients that I’ll only use for one recipe.

The recipe in question is one from The French Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone; Chicken with Figs. Because I don’t want to cut down on Michele’s profits, I won’t post the exact recipe. Instead, here’s the list of ingredients the book asks for:

  • Bone-in chicken things, skin removed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Medium shallots, sliced
  • Bay leaves
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • Dry white wine or chicken broth
  • Sherry vinegar
  • Honey
  • Dried Black Mission figs

I have a confession to make; I’m a picky eater. I also don’t have the kind of income that would allow me to have fresh ingredients on hand often. Looking at that list, I already knew that I was going to make quite a few¬†substitutions. I was also interested in using up some cherry preserves that I’d had in my refrigerator for a while. I figured that they would be an alright substitution for the figs, since they’re both fruit (such a scientific method, I know).

Here is my list of ingredients:


  • 3 Chicken breasts
  • Salt and coarse black pepper
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Marjoram
  • Bay leaves (dried)
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 tbsp Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Honey
  • 1/2 jar Cherry preserves

For the herbs, I didn’t really measure (because in my mind, measuring is a waste of time). I’ve discovered that when you’re adding herbs to a slow cooker, a little goes a long way. Don’t over season, or you won’t taste the chicken at all. Trust me, I’ve done it.

I didn’t follow all of the steps Michele specified, so I don’t mind posting the instruction information. Those steps are below:

  1. Sprinkle chicken all over with salt and pepper, place in slow cooker.
  2. Scatter herbs over the chicken.
  3. Mix liquid ingredients (except cherry preserves) together in separate bowl and pour over chicken.
  4. Cook on low for 5 hours (6 if you start out with frozen chicken breasts).
  5. Heat preserves in a small saucepan or pot. Stir in cooking juices from crock pot until liquid is reduced and saucy.
  6. Place chicken on plate and pour sauce over the chicken. Serve with French bread.

Despite the fact that this recipe is almost completely unrecognizable compared to the original, it turned out really well! I was a little bummed that I had to use more than just my slow cooker to make it, but it was worth it to include a flavor that is so different from what we normally eat.

Are there any substitutions that you often make? How important is measuring, really?

Chicken and Cherries – Serves 3-4, Cook time 5-6 hours, Active time 20 minutes


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