Over three months ago I wrote about Sour Cherry Conserva and then vanished into the void. I can’t feign apology, because I don’t think many people noticed, and I’m not saying it to be all , don’t make me sing! I mean that in the sense that we are all busy and have a lot of things going on. And the living—the real kind, that is—is made up of human interaction, not bits and bytes via a series of tubes. And these months, I’ve been focusing on exactly that with a tiny human who has enough energy to power a small town.
One quick aside before I cut right to the chase: many of you have asked what I feed Avi now that he’s older and eating solids. I’m happy to write about various things I’ve cooked for him, but I don’t want to sound at all condescending or suggest that there’s a right or wrong way to feed babies. So, if you’re interested, I’m happy to share what works for us.
Anyway—let’s get right to business, shall we?
I think you should make this. I think you will like it. And I think you’ll be glad that you have this in your back pocket for those times when you’ll need to make dinner, but have absolutely no time or energy to make it happen. I wasn’t going to post it, because I’m a little embarrassed by how simple it is and how lazy it feels. PEOPLE, IT COOKS WHILE YOU SLEEP!! It’s unabashedly lowbrow—and I’m standing by it one hundred percent. It contains—and I’m almost (almost!) ashamed to admit it—garlic powder, onion flakes, and skinless, boneless chicken breasts!
I found this recipe via the wonderful Jenny Rosenstrach who found it via Skinnytaste where it lives under the name “Crockpot Santa Fe Chicken”. I don’t recall the circumstance that prompted me to make it, but I do remember that the first few tweaks I made to the recipe were guided by what I had on hand. Out went frozen corn and in went chickpeas (I did make it with frozen corn once and much preferred the chickpeas version). I made it with soaked dry beans instead of canned (found zero difference in results, decided to make life easier for self); I tried chicken breasts, thighs, and drumsticks, and in the end found that skinless, boneless chicken breasts worked best for us (I can’t believe I’m writing this about skinless, boneless chicken breasts); I gave real garlic a go and found that garlic powder gave it a mellower, more pleasant flavor (who am I, really?); and because I never have onion powder on hand, but had onion flakes left from testing recipes from a book I wrote last year, I threw those in to see what happened next.
While I was on my maternity leave and in the throes of postpartum anxiety and was barely able to boil water, I made this a lot. It would feed us two, if not three, comforting and filling meals. I make it now that the weather is turning cooler and I’m back at work. I throw the ingredients in at night and when we wake up in the morning, it’s ready for me to portion out and refrigerate, and it doesn’t hurt that the house smells like pure comfort. As you might have guessed, this crockpot chicken chili is also imminently freezable and only gets better with time. And if you bring this to a newly-minted mom—or dad or a sick friend—you’ll get serious brownie (or is it chicken chili) points.
2 to 3 chicken breasts (about 1 ½ lbs / 700 g)
2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock
2 cups or 1 (14 oz / 400g) can cooked black beans
1 cup (7 oz / 200 g) cooked pinto beans
2 cups or 1 (14 oz / 400 g) can cooked chickpeas
1 (14.4 oz / 400 g) can diced tomatoes with chipotles
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
1/4 cup chopped scallions, plus more for serving
1/4 cup onion flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
salt to taste
Cooked brown rice, for serving
Sour cream (optional), for serving
Grated cheddar cheese (optional), for serving
Combine chicken, broth, beans (drained), chickpeas, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, onion flakes, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt in the slowcooker.
Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Remove chicken from the slow cooker, and, using forks, shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning to taste.
Serve over rice, with sour cream and cheese, if using, and garnished with cilantro and scallions.
Serves 6 to 8