Last week, I started a new job. Although the hours are the same as my previous one, the commute is a little longer, so I’ve been getting home about 15 minutes before our normal dinnertime. Not cool.
It’s been really hard for me to think of meals that can be made in a minimal amount of time. One thing I’ve started doing is prepping as much as I can in advance, whether that means trimming and pounding chicken at 6am, forming burger patties as my morning eggs cook, or assembling a baked pasta dish the night before that my husband can pop into the oven when he gets home.
And then, of course, there’s the slowcooker. So many people swear by them and, while I’m definitely using mine more frequently and finding more meals I enjoy from it, it’s still a struggle. It’s not just about finding a recipe that doesn’t use processed ingredients, but finding one that won’t dry up or turn into a pile of mush by the time you get home.
This recipe is a winner on so many levels. At the most basic – everyone in our family loved it. Always a huge success. The other great thing is there is no rice or pasta or really anything that has the potential of overcooking. While the original recipe calls for cooking the chicken on low for 4-6 hours, let’s be real. Most people can’t do that, and I’m one of them. Since the only thing really cooking all day is chicken, it’s not an issue to let this go the entire time you’re at work. Using chicken thighs, which have a much lower tendency to dry out than chicken breasts, really helps, too.
My stew is thinner and also redder than Josie’s, and that’s because I used tomato sauce in place of the diced tomatoes. You know how you always just assume you have staples around? Yeah, well, I definitely thought I had diced tomatoes and chicken broth and of course I realized at about 9:30pm the night before I made this that I had neither. I ended up subbing tomato sauce and Better Than Bouillon, which worked out fine, but the tomato sauce obviously made this more of a soup than a stew (which we were okay with).
The original recipe calls for microwaving the vegetables but I opted for sauteing them since it’s not much more difficult. I actually cooked them the night prior so that in the morning all I needed to do was dump everything into the slow cooker and turn it on.
I’m always SO happy when I find a slow cooker recipe that tastes great and is enjoyed by the whole family. I’m definitely glad to have this recipe in my back pocket!
Update: I have since made this using dried beans, which are perfect if you have a long cooking time, like we do. I added about 1/2 lb. dried beans in the beginning as well as 2 cups of water.
Tex-Mex Chicken Stew/Soup
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, minced (seeds/ribs removed to your preference)
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained OR 1 (8 oz. or 14.5 oz.) can tomato sauce, for a more soup-like consistency
1/4 cup Minute Tapioca
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
2 cups frozen corn
1 (14.5 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed*
2 chipotles in adobo, minced
cilantro to taste
Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add the oil. Once hot, stir in the onion, bell pepper, jalapenos, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add in tomato paste and garlic and stir about a minute longer. Empty the skillet into the slowcooker.
To the slowcooker, add the chicken broth, tomatoes, tapioca and brown sugar. Stir to combine, and then add the chicken thighs. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or longer (I cooked mine for nearly 10). Remove the chicken from the slowcooker and shred or dice into bite-sized pieces.
Add the chicken back into the slowcooker along with the corn, beans, and chipotles. Cover and cook on high for about 10 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.
*I have since made this using dried beans, which are great if you have a longer cook time like I do. I added about 1/2 lb. dried beans in the beginning as well as 2 cups of water. If you do this, you will have to cook everything for longer, about 8-11 hours.