FOODIE FRIDAY: SLOW COOKER PULLED CHICKEN
We are sitting at a dock on the Hudson, at the bottom end of Manhattan, and rolling our guts out with all the ferry traffic constantly going past. The waves come in, smash against the far wall of the boat basin and then it sloshes (us) around as if creating waves in a bathtub. This is making cooking more of a contact-sport for me. Good thing I work on core strength and stability all the time because 2, if not 3 points of contact is becoming crucial…and I just don’t care to burn, stab or crush myself at this stage of the game!
Back to the food. I must admit that for me, limiting my proteins to lean chicken and fish etc is not really my idea of a good time for 90 days. BUT, if you are doing this, then I thought perhaps I can toss an idea out there for your food prep which can be low in fat, takes almost zero prep time and can cook a hell of a lot of chicken all at once. You could also use the same template and cook pork tenderloin (also lean) if you are tired of grilling it. I am sure it will turn out reasonably the same.
All the flavor in this preparation is coming from whatever herb and spice blend you are adding to the slow cooker, so you can get creative and change things up from week to week. You could also just use salt, pepper and some garlic to keep things simple, then add other flavors later as you are going to eat the meat.
5 lbs of skinless, boneless chicken. I used mostly thighs and a few breasts. You can use all breast meat, if you like. I find that thighs have a bit more moisture. (please, people with dirty minds, we ARE NOT going there!)
1 to 1.5 cups of chicken broth. Homemade would be awesome. If you go store bought, this stuff has a tiny amount of sugar, but no fat and no scary corn-based and soy-based junk in it.
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, onion powder, salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
Mix all the spices together in a bowl.
Put the raw chicken and all ingredients in the crock pot. If using thighs, you could just use 1 cup of the broth, if using the breasts, maybe use a bit more.
Mix the chicken and spices and broth around together in the crock pot (no sense in getting anything else dirty).
Set the crock pot on high setting for 6 hours if you have that setting, or on 8 for low.
Come back at appointed time. Using a couple of forks, shred the meat. That is all.
This seriously could not be any easier. When I made this yesterday, I started with 8 lbs of mostly thigh meat. I threw a pack of breasts in there because that’s what was defrosted. Once it had cooked and cooled slightly, I spooned it into a storage container and weighed for the hell of it. Cooked, it was down to 5.1 lbs; slightly drained of the liquid. For a more accurate measurement, you could drain it completely (save the water as you strain it through the colander just because you will need some of it in there for the flavor and the moisture). I am just suggesting this weighing and measuring for those who are having to eat this way right now. Then you can portion as required.
This spice blend gives you a nice Mexican-type flavor that would be awesome in tacos, on salad, on rice. You could add salsa to it if you wanted a bit more tomato action. If you made the chicken with just salt, pepper and garlic powder then here are some ideas to flavor:
squeeze lemon and douse with pepper for lemon pepper chicken, would be good on a salad
if you can eat mayo, then I first suggest you read my blog on how to make that, and you could add mayo for a chicken salad, cut up some celery, red onion…maybe some grapes. Presto: chicken salad.
No mayo? How about some smashed ripe avocado (which you have measured for your macros). Mix it in there…yum. With lime and cilantro and some jalapenos, even better.
Make it plain and then add in some curry powder, a squeeze of lime. If you need fat, then some coconut milk. (I suggest you do this whilst heating it up on the stove over medium heat).
Want pasta? Cook some onions and garlic, toss in the plain chicken, dump a small can of crushed tomatoes and about 1 TBSP oregano. Pasta Sauce Done.
Stir fry a bunch of vegetables and throw some chicken in for a one-dish meal.
The possibilities are endless and only limited by your own creativity and whatever dietary/macro requirements you currently have. I made the 5 lbs batch because we are hosting a party on the weekend on the boat and requested were chicken, pork and shrimp tacos (and a lot of apps). I made the pulled chicken and am making pulled pork in advance to get it done. There will be 25 mouths to feed. You can scale this up if you don’t want to make it every week. So make a double batch then portion and freeze some for later. Saves time down the track!!
Our season in New England is coming to a close…We are on our last guest trip of the season (I think) and then weather and storms permitting, we will be headed south back to Florida. I wish I could say we were going to get a stop in Savannah as we did on our way north in June, but unless we are seeking shelter from a hurricane, it is highly unlikely. I am going to keep on posting though, so come back and read on!
Fair Winds and Following Seas!