Monday, May 26, 2014

Cheesy crockpot chicken chili

Over the past two years, I have been an on and off sometimes pescetarian. Sometimes I'm really good at it too -- I've gone up to 7 months without eating any meat!

Today is not one of those times...

I know I'm about to horribly offend some people, but the real reason I first became a pescetarian was because I honestly just don't like red meat. As thoroughly as my parents tried to teach me the value of a beautifully cooked steak, I just could never like it. It doesn't matter if it's fillet mignonette or bacon (#sorrynotsorry), I just don't like red meat. 

However, chicken's another story. I don't love it, I don't even particularly like it.. I just find it sort of unavoidable. From soup bases, to salads, tons of delicious foods seem to have chicken, which made giving up chicken considerably more challenging for me. 

So today we're making chicken. Freaking wonderful chicken. Because why else would you ever want to cook in a crockpot? 

I actually think crockpots are pretty nifty for vegetarians (crockpot lentils = A++), but what makes these contraptions particularly wonderful is the way meat just softens and pulls so easily after an afternoon bath in the slow cooker. In fact, crockpot salsa chicken (literally just chicken + salsa) is one of the easiest meals I can think of, and it's sooo good. 

But today we branched out a bit more. We went Mexican. I'm not actually a huge fan of most Mexican food, but this recipe is.... healthy. God forbid. Yes, there's cheese, but besides for that, this recipe is light and full of good or you ingredients. No fried tortillas here. 

If you don't have a crockpot, you could still make this meal but your chicken will be chewy, and I would recommend adding some broth to make it more of a soup. Either way, the flavors in this dish are bold and comforting. They might even cause you to consider eating meat again. 

Cheesy crockpot chicken chili
Serves: 8
Cook time: 7 hours

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 cups salsa, divided
1 cup water
2 tsp cumin
3 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
3 chopped bell peppers (I used red, green, and orange)
1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed and minced
1 14 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
4 oz light cream cheese
6 oz reduced fat pepper jack cheese, shredded or diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1. Combine chicken, half of the salsa, water, cumin, chili powder, and salt to the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours (you could also do this on high for 3... but come on). When done, shred the meat into thin pulled pieces with two forks in the crockpot
2. Use a paper dryer to pat minced peppers dry and place in non-stick skillet WITHOUT oil on high. Cook for 4-5 minutes on one side without stirring and then flip. You want them to be roasted on the outside.
3. Repeat step two with the corn and jalapenos (I did them together)
4. Add roasted peppers, corn, jalapenos, cream cheese, and balckbeans to crockpot and stir. Replace lid and cook for 5-10 minutes.
5. Add in cheese and cook for 5 more minutes
6. Serve with cilantro and tortilla chips for dipping. Seriously. Dip tortilla chips in this. 

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