Cilantro Lime Chicken for the Crock Pot

Sometimes my recipe inspiration comes from unlikely sources. In this case, I first saw this recipe from my friend Samantha (not her real name, but her chosen alias. I’ll give you a second to digest the fact she has a need for an alias). Sam is one of my oldest friends, and once upon a time, she was the Lucy to my Ethel. I could (and probably should) write a whole book devoted to Sam, but today I’ll just share this one story.

Sam’s mother wasn’t much of a cook, so she was not trained in the art of Thanksgiving since childhood. I helped talk her through her first Thanksgiving back in 1993 or 1994. I had thought I covered all of my bases. We went over the recipes and the shopping list and the How To’s, and I believed my little birdie was ready to fly. Then around 5:00 pm, while I was entertaining my own guests, the phone rings.

Sam: I don’t understand! The turkey has been cooking FIVE HOURS and it’s still not done. It’s still pink and bloody and not brown like the pictures.

Me: Wait, FIVE HOURS? I thought you had an eight pound bird. That doesn’t sound right. Maybe your oven is broken. Did you set it for 325 or 350?

Sam: Uhhhh. I thought I was supposed to set the oven for 165 degrees. That’s the number you kept saying. Is that not right?

Me: SAAAAMMMM!!!! 165 is the INTERNAL temperature. Remember? I said you needed a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of 165. The OVEN needs to be at 325. No wonder your turkey is raw. I didn’t even know an oven could be set so low.

Sam: I thought internal meant INSIDE THE OVEN, not INSIDE THE TURKEY.

Me: We will laugh about this one day. Enjoy your Thanksgiving pizza!

Perhaps the above illustrates my surprise and delight that my little Sammy has come so far and is now picking out recipes on Pintrest and posting them on Facebook. Hey, it’s a start.

This recipe has all of my winning elements: crock pot, flavorful, easy. Added bonus: My whole family loved it. The only change I made is that I used boneless chicken thighs, as I absolutely hate boneless breasts done in the crock pot. I firmly believe that if you are crockpotting chicken, you either need to go for bone-in breasts or boneless thighs. Not everyone agrees with me, but I feel compelled to share this opinion with you. I served this over rice with a dollop of sour cream, and it was perfect. The author suggests using it for chicken tacos, and I think that’s a brilliant idea.

Cilantro Lime Chicken for the Crockpot (original recipe by Megan from Pip & Ebby here)

In crock pot, mix together:

One 24-ounce jar medium or mild salsa

Juice from one lime

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

One 1.25-oz. package taco seasoning

2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (optional)

2 to 3 pounds of boneless chicken thighs or 3 – 4 bone-in chicken breasts

Directions:

Mix together first five ingredients in crock pot. Cover chicken with mixture. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Shred chicken with a fork (removing any bones if necessary) and return to the crock pot for at least another 20 minutes. Serve with rice or as a taco filling. Top with more fresh cilantro.

I have a thing for cilantro and try to grow some every year. This should be ready in a few more weeks.

I also have a thing for limes, lemons’ classier green cousins.

Ina Garten’s Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken

I will admit I was a bit skeptical about this recipe when my friend Tess insisted that it created the perfect roasted chicken. The wine, the lemons, ALL THAT GARLIC, and most of all, the bacon? I just didn’t know. I do love all of those ingredients separately (and God knows I love bacon to the point of unhealthiness), but I had my doubts that they would work in their stated quantities and on a chicken. Tess has never steered me wrong, and rarely has Ina, so I gave it a shot. I am so glad that I did! It really did produce a wonderful roasted chicken with skin both crispy and flavorful.

Personally, I loved the gravy. My kids weren’t crazy about it due to the wine (philistines! what do they know, anyway?) and it is definitely jazzier than your traditionally flavored chicken gravy, so next time I make this I will just buy a jar of whatever is on sale for the kids. The chicken itself was moist and tender. Roasted chicken is a big family favorite around here, and this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Ina Garten’s Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken (original recipe here)

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 to 6-pound) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
  • 4 lemons
  • 3 heads garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 pound sliced bacon
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, reserving enough thyme to garnish the chicken dish, 1 lemon, halved, and 2 halves of the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Cut 2 of the lemons in quarters and scatter the quarters and remaining garlic around the chicken. Lay the bacon slices over the chicken to cover.

Roast the chicken for 1 hour. Remove the bacon slices from the top of the chicken and set aside. Continue roasting the chicken for an additional 1/2 hour, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil while you prepare the gravy.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the bottom of the pan. Add the wine and chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until reduced by half.

Slice the chicken on a platter. Garnish the chicken platter with the bacon slices, roasted garlic, reserved thyme and 1 lemon, sliced. Serve with the gravy.

This is what the chicken looks like after one hour with the bacon on it. Not very appetizing, I know. But you just wait…

This is what the chicken looks like once it’s finished cooking. Beautiful, eh? Tess, Ina and Mom Mom know what they’re talking about.

Mexicasserole

As much as I like to fancy myself a highfalutin foodie, the sad reality is cooking for kids has knocked me down off my high horse many years ago. A nice example of how my children have humbled me: decent casseroles and crockpot dishes excite me as much as truffle oil. More so, in fact.

Years ago my friend Bonnie shared a recipe which won a contest in the Sunday Parade Magazine (that’s a division of Food & Wine, no?), and its many incarnations have been a hit with the family ever since. I rarely make this the same way twice, but this is a very forgiving recipe which allows much room for improvisation and substitutions. Leftovers are always rare.

Mexicasserole

1 pound of chicken, poached and shredded

2 cups restaurant style tortilla chips, crushed

1 can red kidney beans, rinsed well and drained

1 can black beans, rinsed well and drained

1 can of corn, drained

8 oz. can of tomato sauce

1 cup salsa

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1 red or green pepper cut into 1/4 inch dice

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 clove of garlic, minced

12 – 16 oz. grated cheddar

Diced tomatoes to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of 13 x 9 inch baking dish and line with crushed tortilla chips. Combine everything but the cheese in a large bowl and mix well. Place half the mixture atop the tortilla chips, and sprinkle half the cheese over the mixture. Cover with the remaining half of the chicken-bean mixture, and then top with remainder of cheese. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Hungarian Chicken Paprikash for the Crockpot

This dish represents The Great Marriage Compromise. Ed always had an affinity for heavy ethnic dishes that I would pooh pooh, such as Beef Stroganoff and Turkey Tetrazzini and (shudder) Tuna Casserole. All of those dishes represented bad cafeteria memories from school, and I could not imagine eating them willingly as an adult unless forced to at gunpoint.

But one day he suggested Chicken Paprikash, and somehow that made it on to my acceptable list. More amazingly, the kids loved it, and it is a much requested family favorite. Despite the fact that there is a major heat wave in the Northeast at the moment, they asked for it again this week. Since it’s a Crockpot meal, the heat isn’t too much of a factor in preparation. Warning: This is NOT a pretty dish, as evidenced below, but it is good old fashioned comfort food. I am serving it tonight with brown rice and green beans from our garden.

Hungarian Chicken Paprikash for the Crockpot

2 Onions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 Tablespoons Hungarian paprika

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

1 garlic clove

3 pounds chicken (breasts or legs, bone in)

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

½ cup chicken stock

½ cup sour cream

Stir together onions, ½ teaspoon salt, paprika, cinnamon, sugar and cayenne. Spread in the bottom of Crockpot.  Rub garlic over chicken, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. In frying pan over high heat, heat butter and oil. Add chicken and brown, approximately 3 minutes per side. Transfer to Crockpot atop onions.

In same unwashed frying pan over high heat, bring stock to simmer, scraping up brown bits. Pour over chicken and cover. Cook on low five to six hours. About 30 minutes before serving, remove chicken from bone in large pieces and return to pot. Stir in sour cream right before serving. Serve over rice.