I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’m big on slow cooker meal prep and that this “chicken taco chili” was in the rotation for Hubba Hubby. Well, I’m a recipe tweaker by nature, and this week’s is sliiiiightly different from the recipe linked – and a bit spicier, which makes for a HAPPY Hubba Hubby. You know what they say – happy hubby, happy life. Wait, wait, no, that’s not right…
In any case, my reason for tweaks this week? Well, given that I’m now packing lunch only for Hubba Hubby and not for me, and his dietary goals vary from mine slightly, I decided to boost the protein content by doubling the chicken breasts from 2 to 4. The spice level increase and the tomato content decrease was to cater to his tastebuds and not mine, while the salsa-switcheroo (and reduced tomatoes as a result) came from “what’s in the pantry so I don’t have to go out and buy salsa?” – and finally, I didn’t have any chili powder (I think I used it all up last time I made this), so I cobbled together the blend of spices that I use to make my own (beef-based) chili for regular tacos or for chili bowl nights.
Got all that? Well, no need to really think too hard about it — I actually measured and wrote down the measurements this time, for y’all 🙂
Here are all the ingredients ready to be dumped into the slow cooker. Another reason I like this recipe? I don’t have to chop anything. If you want to mince garlic fresh, by all means, but it spends so much time in the slow cooker it seems like a bit of a waste. Handy dandy pre-minced garlic (“foodies” and “gourmands” avert your eyes; this recipe is more for busy/tired moms on the go than for anyone expecting a gourmet meal) is super convenient for this type of recipe. My blend of spice choices is visible, a can of Rotel is the only tomato as far as I know (I forget if this Trader Joe’s salsa has tomatoes in it, but it’s green in color)… and Trader Joe’s “hatch valley salsa” which has hatch chilies in it. I didn’t taste it (I’m not a spicy-lover), but it smelled really lovely and flavorful.
Also, chicken breasts that I pulled from the freezer and thawed in the fridge overnight on a plate. Yes, these are from December — no frost bite, though, I checked — when I got pregnant, cooked white meat chicken was my first food aversion. It’s not that surprising honestly — I actually only began eating white meat chicken last year, when I buckled down and became serious about my dietary goals and caloric restrictions. It was still a little disappointing that something I’d only been eating for 7-8 months was my first aversion, but at the same time, at least I don’t really miss it (actually the thought of it right now is making my mouth go dry, so…). Err, my point: I haven’t been cooking chicken breasts, but it made sense to make them for Hubba Hubby (who has no such aversion) in a dish that I don’t plan on eating.
Here is everything ready to be mixed! I didn’t rinse the black beans because the recipe calls for added liquid anyway. I don’t think it changes the final result – maybe in a stovetop chili, but not a slow cooker one. BTW – one of my little “tips” to keep track of spices that I’ve already added. First, as I measured and used each container, I would move it from the left of the slow cooker, to the right, so I would know it was already added. Second, I added them in little different spots so I could see how many scoops and if I lost track while counting, I could look down and count how many little piles. I do this while baking too though a lot of those colors are pretty similar. (While most of my measurements for this recipe are ‘1’ or ‘1/2 tsp’, I measured everything using a 1/2 tsp so I definitely had to count higher for some stuff!)
Mixed up with the chicken breasts covered up. Ready to go for 8 hours (or more, since I went to sleep and didn’t turn it off until I went in the kitchen the next morning).
… and post-shredding in the morning. Basically, I took the lid out, and took two forks, and every chicken breast happily fell apart to shreds with some light poking and prodding. Some bigger chunks remained, so those I had to use the forks to pull apart a little, but still really tender and easy.
Since this has some veggies in it, and was slightly-liquidy, I didn’t bother with a veggie side. Though I suppose putting some roasted broccoli underneath would help a bit, it’s high-protein and will keep Hubba Hubby full through his workouts, I’m sure. I didn’t have 5 containers that matched in size, though, so the lunches all vary slightly in size – from 2.9 cups to 3.2, but just the container size. I kept the portions inside reasonably close… I also am not fully certain what size will fill him up best, so I gave a range of sizes for him to pick. On days where he’s lifting heavier or just wants extra protein, he can grab a bigger container.
Also — I tend to send this off to work with him with a small container of sour cream, some shredded cheddar, and toppings, to make it a little less… well, one-note. Plus though he has no white-meat-aversion, I tend to think the white meat in this still has a dry texture to it — the cheese and sour cream help with that.
We’ll see what kind of feedback we get from this week’s lunches!
Recipe adapted from Budget Bytes
- 4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
- Trader Joe’s hatch chili salsa
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 15 oz. can black beans
- 12 ounce package of frozen corn
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 C water
- 1 small can of Rotel
The rest of the instructions are basically the same – or just dump everything into the slow cooker (disposable liner optional), stir a bit to evenly distribute, cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4, and shred chicken with forks. Top with whatever you like your chili topped with, and enjoy!
How do you make your slow cooker chili? How spicy do you like it? And how do you keep everything from leaking everywhere? (I’m still uncertain if those containers are leak proof or if he’ll have to keep them upright in his gym bag…) Would love to hear in comments about your slow cooker chili recipes!