Thursday, November 6, 2008

What a Crock!

I generally loathe crock pot cooking. It is usually a watered-down, pallid representation of the original dish it was meant to replicate. Stews are grayish brown, and lacking the flavor from browning the meat before hand, and the usual herbiness seems missing, now matter how many seasonings are added. And chicken is even worse; it gets chalky when cooked in a slow-cooker, losing any texture or bite at all. I remember when I was a kid, the moment I would return from school, I would demand to know what was for dinner. I was crestfallen if my mom said crock pot. Ugh!

But now that I am a busy mom myself, I do appreciate the wonders of a meal already prepared and ready to eat, what with all the shuttling we do each afternoon. This afternoon somehow I am to be at the orthodontist, the piano teacher's house and two soccer practices, babysit two families worth of children and have dinner on the table in the midst of it all, so I am giving the ole' crock pot another go.

I found a recipe that looked promising in my Everyday Food magazine from October. My recipe is inspired by theirs and it uses boneless skinless chicken thighs, that should stay moister and hold their texture better than breasts do. So at 9 o'clock this morning, I dumped into the pot the following ingredients:

Easy Chicken Tacos

2 pounds of thighs
1/2 C salsa (my favorite is Salsa Especial from Trader Joe's)
1 can of diced green chilis
1 t of salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1 t of chipotle chili powder
4 sliced garlic cloves

I sqooshed it together with my hands (my favorite cooking tool of all) and set the crock pot to low. By 5 this evening, I should have nice, easy-to-shred chicken for tacos.

I'm optimistic that this will be a recipe to fall back on for those too-busy-to-cook every night.

Update: This recipe turned out better than I expected. The chicken was juicy, not overcooked, and quite flavorful. Next time I would add a sliced onion and bell pepper to make it more like the Chicken Machaca from my favorite Mexican restaurant. This is a definite keeper!

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