provencal chicken

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The Laid-Back French Supper

It doesn't get much easier than this Provençal chicken dinner: Scatter chopped onions in the bottom of the slow cooker, top with chicken thighs, place a lemon slice on each and toss in pitted green olives, a dash of white wine vinegar, some dried herbs and chicken stock. In a few hours, you'll have a simple yet satisfying dinner that goes well with nearly any side.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Provençal Lemon and Olive Chicken
pulled pork

Photo: Christina Holmes

An Effortless, Meaty Classic

This throw-it-all-in-the-pot pulled-pork recipe eliminates the 12 hours of brining and 10 hours of smoking we've seen in some recipes, but still yields terrific results. It combines onion, bay leaves, crushed and whole tomatoes and boneless pork shoulder with one magical game-changer: chipotle in adobo sauce. The pepper adds just the right amount of smoky heat, which you can temper by serving it with coleslaw and pickles.

Get the recipe: Pulled Pork
French Onion Panade

Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson

An Unexpected—and Delicious—Meatless Main

Here's a vegetarian dinner that anyone will love (especially you, since it's easy to make). It's part soup and part bread pudding, a sort of slow-cooker riff on traditional French onion soup that also includes greens. The slow cooker's low heat transforms half-moon slices of onions into a sweet, caramelized slump, to which you add beef stock (or vegetable or mushroom stock), dry sherry and baby kale (or another leafy green). To finish this savory dish, you arrange toasted slices of rustic bread over the onions, broth and kale, sprinkle grated Gruyère cheese over the top and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Get the recipe: French Onion Panade
Smoky Beef Chili

Photo: Jonathan Meter

The Reason You Bought a Slow Cooker to Begin With

If there's one dish that's practically synonymous with Crock-Pots, it might be chili: There seems to be no end to the number of hours the dish can simmer away, getting better as the minutes tick by. And this recipe is one of the best we've tried. It calls for cut-up pieces of beef chuck, instead of ground beef, which hold their shape and texture nicely. There are also kidney beans, diced tomatoes and a handful of flavor-boosters, from onion and garlic to soy sauce and cumin.

Get the recipe: Smoky Beef Chili
Coq au Vin

Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson

A Timeless Burgundian Classic (Requiring Little of Your Time)

The French dish known as coq au vin has been a mainstay on the dinner party circuit for years—and with good reason. Slowly cooking chicken in wine is a nearly foolproof way to render the meat fork-tender, so that humble chicken thighs wind up tasting incredibly decadent, surrounded by a velvety sauce. This straightforward recipe might be the only one you'll ever need. After some quick browning and sautéeing, the slow cooker takes over and you're hands-off for 5 or 6 hours, as dry red wine, bacon, mushrooms, garlic, onions, carrots and thyme all cook together with the chicken. The finished dish needs little more to accompany it than crusty bread and a green salad.

Get the recipe: Coq au Vin
Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

Photo: Carrie Vitt

The No-Brainer Beef Supper

Busy weekends don't have to end with takeout on a Sunday night. This tried-and-true pot roast is perfect for days when you're running from one thing to another, since it's warm and filling yet doesn't involve hours over the stove. And while the basic recipe calls for carrots, you could also swap in parsnips, sweet potatoes or turnips. Their sweet taste is a nice complement to the rich beef.

Get the recipe: 6-Ingredient Slow-Cooker Pot Roast
Un-Screw-Up-Able Granola

Photo: OlgaMiltsova/iStock/Thinkstock

Un-Screw-Up-Able Granola

Making your own mixture of oats and dried fruits is cheaper, healthier and more customizable than buying granola at the store. But we've charred more batches in the oven than we care to admit; because, while spreading it thinly on a baking sheet does help it crisp up nicely, it also seems to make the cereal go from beautiful to burnt in a matter of minutes. Then we realized how easy it is to make in the slow cooker. Thanks to the low, moist heat, there's (almost) no chance you'll toast that coconut into oblivion.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Tropical Granola