I now understand why there are a bazillion crock-pot salsa chicken recipes floating around Pinterest.
This is hands down the most flavorful, healthy and "easy" meal I've ever made. Sure, the crock-pot is a miracle worker, but many slow cooker recipes call for super-processed ingredients, which I try to avoid and don't even buy anymore.
Not this! The salsa, hatch chiles and seasonings add an immense amount of flavor to the chicken, which further absorbs the sauce once you shred it into the crock-pot.
Many recipes, like the one I adapted it from, call for a cream of condensed soup, 1/2 to 1 cup of sour cream and flour tortillas. This will give you a super creamy filling for burritos, but it sounds kind of heavy.
If you're still thinking about the creamy alternative, I suggest omitting the condensed soup, adding organic sour cream at the end and using homemade corn tortillas.
Nevertheless, you don't need any of those things to create a delicious meal. Trust me! I wanted to use Greek yogurt to bump up the protein and creaminess, but at the last second decided not to. Why? Because I ate a forkful and decided it was already delicious enough.
And guess what? My boyfriend raved about how good it was AND went back for quadruple helpings!!!
Seriously?!? It's normal to get an "it was all right" response out of him after I spend an hour cooking a meal. I'm positive it's not my cooking (most of the time). I have decent taste buds and can recognize when something is off or lacking. This doesn't happen too often. Only sometimes when I experiment with new recipes or ingredients.
Instead, his normal response comes from a lack of pizza, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, potatoes, cheese or crusty bread in the meal. :P Sorry!
Still, yesterday afternoon I dumped a few ingredients into a crock-pot set on high, came back four hours later and shredded the chicken. Then, I microwaved a bag of instant brown rice, plated it and ladled the chicken with sauce on top. Done.
Honestly, I'm thinking about making another batch tonight. Two nights in a row? Yep. It's that good.
Crock-Pot Chicken Breasts with Salsa, Black Beans & Green Chiles
Adapted from Semi Homemade Mom
Lean chicken breast, jarred salsa, black beans, roasted hatch green chiles and spices blend together in a crock-pot for a flavorful meal. This is unbelievably tasty and quick, not to mention healthy! Pair it with whole-grain brown rice, cauliflower rice or corn tortillas. Warning: highly addictive! Make extra, cause everyone will want seconds or thirds!
Serves: 3-4 (probably more if you're not feeding ravenous post-workout folks)
3 large boneless skinless pastured chicken breasts (or 4 regular sized)
1 1/2 cups of chunky salsa (I recommend fire roasted tomatillo salsa)
1 can of hatch fire-roasted green chiles (4 oz)
2 cups of homemade cooked beans (I love black and pinto)
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon granulated garlic
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
--I recommend Pink Himalayan, Celtic or Utah sourced salt--
1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt or sour cream (optional)
2 cups of homemade brown rice, cauliflower rice or homemade corn tortillas (optional)
Note: Look for a salsa that isn't super salty. However, if the one you love has lots of sodium, omit salt in the taco seasoning, otherwise the chicken will taste overly-salty.
digital thermometer (optional)
Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of a crock-pot. Pour in the salsa. Open a can of green chiles. If you're using homemade beans, there's no need to drain them. The juices, or what's fondly referred to as "pot liquor" is full of flavor! Dump both the chiles and the beans into the crock-pot.
Measure and add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and sea salt to the slow cooker. Stir everything together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, then push the chicken to the bottom of the crock-pot so the liquids cover most of it. This will help keep the breasts moist while cooking.
Place the lid on the slow-cooker and turn on high. Cook for 4 hours. Check on it after 2-3 hours and stir. Some crock-pots cook faster or slower than others depending on the size, so make sure to pull out the largest chicken breast and cut it in half. It should have no pink with the juices running clear. To be utterly sure, you can use a digital thermometer. It's safe to eat at 160 degrees or higher.
When chicken is done, pull breasts out and shred with tongs or forks, then add the chicken back to the pot and mix into the sauce. If you want a creamier version, stir in 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt or sour cream.
If using homemade rice, pour 1/2 to 1 cup onto each plate, then top with a few ladles of the shredded salsa chicken.
Notes & Tips
- Check if the chicken is done after 3 hours in case your crock-pot cooks faster. That way you can turn it to the low setting or take the chicken out if it's already cooked through.
- If you want a saucier version, add in an extra cup of salsa or diced tomatoes and another can of fire-roasted green chiles.
- You can roast your own hatch green chiles if they're in season (usually August through October) and freeze them for later use. Check out my pan fried hatch green chile burgers post for more info on hatch chiles. Otherwise, the canned versions are available year round in most local supermarkets.
- Don't use an expensive salsa. Some bottles I've seen are 4-6 bucks a pop. Use less expensive brands. They don't taste great with chips (I'm a slight salsa snob), but after 4 hours in the crock-pot with other spices, it transforms into deliciousness.
- I haven't tried this yet, but I bet you could put the cooked rice in at the beginning. I'd probably add in an extra cup of salsa, though.
- Try topping it with a small amount of shredded cheese, chopped cilantro and chopped white onion.
Real Food Resources
Real Food Survival Guide For Busy Moms
"This e-book is perfect for busy folks who need help maximizing their time in the kitchen so they can fix nutritious, real food snacks and meals to eat at home and on the go. In addition to realistic advice, this book provides recipes for real food staples you can make in bulk ahead of time, which ensures you always have nutrient dense foods at hand. And it’s especially helpful if you’re interested in implementing homemade fermented foods into your diet."
From Scratch: Easy Recipes for Traditionally Prepared Whole-Food Dishes
"If you're looking for a cookbook that is as entertaining as it is delicious, then look no further. From Scratch is a breath of fresh air when it comes to learning how to traditionally prepare and cook nutritious food. Shaye does not disappoint in her recipes and this cookbook reads like a letter from a close friend. These meals are easily prepared and yes, easily devoured."
Question for Discussion: What's your favorite go-to crock-pot meal?
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