Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cooking for the Big Family with Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Poor Sauce on the Wall! You have been so neglected whilst I have frolicked around the country, living it up with the family. We just got back from a week and a half in Pittsburgh. My extended family met up at my grandmother's big farm home outside of Pittsburgh. We drove in from Boston, New York and Nashville and flew in from Seattle and Denver. We took turns tickling Emmett, explored Pittsburgh, sweated our brains out in the humidity and ate a lot of amazing food. 

I volunteered to cook most of the big family dinners under the guise of "needing material for the blog" but mostly because I love feeding loved ones and I love spending time in the kitchen with my aunt, mom and sister when they come in to help!

After the rest of us had been there a couple days, my aunt, her family and my sister drove from the Northeast to join the party. I thought that it would be great to welcome them, after a day of driving, to the family fun with a Fiesta Night.

We had latin-inspired, refreshing summer drinks and a chip n' dip happy hour waiting for them. We bought a few containers of pico de gallo, made queso [yes, good ole Velveeta melted with salsa] and Mom made her to die for mango nectarine salsa.

I wanted time to be with my family and didn't want to be in the kitchen all day cooking for 15 so I turned to my go-to slow cooker salsa chicken for the main course. 

This chicken is awesome because it is flavorful and can so easily become the basis for a healthy, easy latin meal. 

We chose to make a burrito bar. We bought tortillas, grabbed the leftover salsa from happy hour, chopped tomatoes, lettuce and onions, shredded some cheese and put out some sour cream. We supplemented with some pan-roasted fresh corn [my roasted corn with cumin and feta from a few posts ago, minus the feta and with the addition of a little lime juice at the end].

Mom made homemade refried black beans [chop and saute a little onion and garlic, add in cumin, salt, pepper and a little chili powder, then add in a few cans of black beans and mash together].
 Mom mashing her refried beans with a potato masher.

 The beginnings of our burrito bar in Mamah's retro kitchen.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
*I have made this chicken before simply by covering chicken breasts in some store bought salsa, throwing then in a slow cooker on low for 6 hours and calling it a day. I amped this one up a bit for the fam.

2-3 pounds of chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 T ground cumin
1 tall jar of salsa [I chose to make a more verde style of chicken this time so I used Pace salsa verde to top]
1/2 t black pepper
3 roma tomatoes roughly chopped
2 anaheim peppers, broiled until charred then chopped

*This is a great pantry can add in anything latin-flavored that you need to use up. Chuck in some cilantro or green onion before serving. Add in a spare can of canned tomatoes. Throw in some beans in the last couple hours of slow cookery. Chop up any veggies that you want to use up....zucchini, carrots, additional onions and peppers.

Place chicken in a slow cooker, cover with all remaining ingredients. Cook on low for at least 6 hours. Before serving, pull chicken breasts from crock pot and shred with 2 forks. Return shredded chicken to the crockpot and stir to mix into the juices and vegetables. At this point, you can leave the entire chicken mixture on warm until ready to serve.

*This is also a great way to stretch chicken, and your budget. I probably used 8 chicken breasts and fed 15 people with leftovers for the next couple of days. My fave re-use of the chicken was when we stuffed quesadillas with it! Mmmmm!

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