What’s for dinner: Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans

Click on the photo to go to the recipe on the Everyday Food website.

There is something enticing about the prospect of using a slow-cooker for meals — mainly, that you leave the house and it does all the work for you.

Well, all of the cooking work, anyway. The food prep is still up to you, however, which is how I found myself in the kitchen at 7:30 a.m. today, chopping onions and red peppers at a time when I am usually eating breakfast. (OK, when I am usually lying in bed thinking about eating breakfast.) My roommate Chris, who is teaching a class in East Mesa this weekend and thus must leave the house early, walked into the room, saw me at the kitchen island and said, “Did you take today off?”

If I had today off, I would not be up at 7:30 a.m., getting the smell of onion all over my hands before I had even put in my contact lenses.

My friend Heidi suggested assembling all ingredients the night before and keeping them in the refrigerator, but I was afraid that the onion odor would take over the fridge, so I decided this was the best option.

(I never realized the extent to which contact lenses protect your eyes from tearing up while chopping onions until the first time I did it wearing my glasses instead. And was reminded of that this morning when I, still bespectacled, sliced up this one.)

Cost of ingredients: Do I get to count the cost of a slow cooker? Otherwise, $8.43. I already had flour, the chicken thighs, salt and pepper.

Substitutions: Sweet onion instead of red onion. (“No! More! Red! Onions! Ever!”) I also had a larger portion of chicken thighs, so I ramped up the amount of salsa and chipotles accordingly.

As easy as they said? Once the prep was done, it was just a case of setting the temperature setting to “low” before leaving the house. Oh, and writing a Post-It note that said “DO NOT OPEN OR STIR,” just in case Mr. Brooks got curious.

How’d THAT go over? When I walked in the door after work, I was greeted by the delectable scent of this dish; I have no idea how Mr. Brooks, who was in the house most of the day, did not open or stir, because he said it started to smell really good around 10 a.m. and continued unabashed throughout the day. When I got ready to serve it up, I didn’t even have to remove the chicken from the pot — I just poked at it with a serving spoon and it fell to shreds by itself. A few more stirs to incorporate, and it was ready to be ladled out with sour cream and cilantro.

Would I make it again? Oh, yes — I give this dish highest marks. Because I had included extra chipotles and adobo, the sour cream became an almost-mandatory addition, to cool the spice down to a more reasonable level. I also had been worried about using dried pinto beans instead of soaked and rinsed ones — how would the, uh, gas factor turn out? As it turns out, no worries.

WHAT SAM WORE: 03-17-10
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
The sweater: Extra-fine merino wool V-neck vest from Uniqlo, New York.
The shirt: Long-sleeved cotton button-down from H&M, Scottsdale.
The pants: Boot-cut corduroys by 7 for All Mankind, from Last Chance.
The shoes: Leather slip-ons from Bacco Bucci, from Last Chance.

One response to “What’s for dinner: Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans

  1. I’m so going to try this! looks fabulous. I have a ham and pea soup in the crockpot at home now…

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