Lemon chicken with apples – slow cooker

As main dish, or served over rice or quinoa, this dish combines the sweetness of apples with a little tartness of lemon.  Like chicken soup with rice, only better.

1 1/2 Lbs. boneless chicken breast or tenderloins, fresh or defrosted
3 Tablespoons (Approx., or to taste) McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak seasoning blend, or blend an equal portion totaling – 3 Tablespoons – of salt & pepper
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
4 McIntosh apples, cored and cut into 1 inch chunks
4 celery stalks, chopped into 1 inch chunks
4 carrots, chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 large yellow onion finely diced, -OR- in 2 inch chunks
4 cups broth (I prefer Maggi “Tu Sabor Latino! Chicken Bouillon” or “Knorr Caldo con Sabor de Tomate Y Chipotle Bouillon.”)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (approx one lemon)
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (approx one lemon)
2 teaspoons finely diced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder

Season both sides of the chicken with the Montreal Steak seasoning (or salt & pepper).  Rub chicken with rosemary and place in the bottom of a slow cooker (8 quart or larger).  Layer some of the onions and vegetables on top of the chicken, then add another layer of seasoned chicken.  Add remaining celery, onion, broth, lemon juice, sugar and lemon zest.  Top with apples.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  After 8-10 hours, or when chicken is done, taste test.  You may need to add more seasoning (bullion, chipotle, water, lemon, or more salt.)  If the seasoning is too strong, you may need to add more broth, or a little applesauce if you like it sweeter.

Variation: for chicken soup with rice, add extra broth, extra carrots before cooking, and when cooking is complete, a few cups cooked rice.  Do not add the rice at the beginning of cooking, it will get soggy and mushy.  Only add the rice at the end of the process.  Also good with yellow corn cut off the cob or hominy.

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