I’ve had friends ask me to write Slow Cooker (i.e. Crock-Pot) recipes over the years, but my “recipe” test usually turns into me adding a cup of grains, handfuls of veggies and then nondescript amounts of herbs and broth. Before I know it, I have a soup of all the odds and ends from my fridge. Don’t get it twisted, the outcome is delicious 98% of the time but I couldn’t tell you how I got there. So when I was visiting my friend Christy in Arizona and she made Slow Cooker chicken for tacos, my mind was blown. She added chicken breasts, a jar of salsa, dried pinto beans, water and presto-chango! We were making hand held tacos by dinner and had enough for a family of four plus leftovers!
For those of you who grew up eating meals from the Slow Cooker, you’re thinking, “Ahhh ya! This isn’t news, girl!” But for me, we never cooked that way. In fact, I don’t think my mom even owned a Crock-Pot until I was 25 and by then I was eating at her house far less. So take a walk in my shoes… you’re cooking for one or two, a busy foodie on the go, and you know Slow Cookers are efficient for soups and other stuff. Then you go visit a friend in Arizona and you see this salsa chicken situation happen before your eyes and suddenly, the Slow Cooker isn’t just for soup! It’s for tacos!
So now that I’ve built up this story, I’m writing a recipe for you that’s not even for tacos. Shoot, now I feel bad because now I’m in the mood for tacos and that’s not where we’re going. My apologies; taco recipe coming soon. The good news is that this is a recipe for something equally delicious, “same same but different” as they say. I had this revolutionary taco experience under my belt and riffed off the idea a bit. The outcome is similar to Greek Avgolemono soup. A thick and classically Greek soup of lemon, chicken and rice.
Without further adieu, my first Slow Cooker recipe, Slow Cooked Chicken with Lemon, Capers and Rice.
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs (about 1.3lbs)
1 bunch lacinato kale, cleaned and sliced width-wise into 1″ pieces
Juice from 1 lemon (plus 1 lemon to serve)
1 teaspoon preserved lemon peel (or substitute the zest of one lemon)
1 large shallot, cut into 1/4″ slices
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 poblano pepper (your choice to keep or discard the seeds; I omitted them) chopped into 1″ chunks
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups water
1 cup brown or Arborio rice, rinsed under cold water
fresh parsley to garnish (3 tablespoons)
Foodie note: If using chicken breast tenders (chicken breast meat that has been cut into smaller pieces), you’ll want to reduce the cooking time in step #2 to 1.5 hours.
1) In a Slow Cooker/Crock-Pot, add half the chopped kale to the bottom of the dish. Add chicken breasts, lemon juice, lemon peel, shallot, garlic, capers, cumin, olive oil, poblano pepper, salt and the other half of the kale. Add enough water so you can see it coming up the sides of the pot (about 4 cups).
2) Put the lid on, set to high and cook about 2 hrs.
3) Remove lid, stir to incorporate any veggies that are floating on top. The chicken should be intact but easily shredded with a fork. Add brown rice, stir and put the lid on. Cook on high about 45 minutes, until the rice is soft.
4) To serve, portion into bowls, add a squeeze of fresh lemon, a few cracks of pepper, pinch of salt and a sprinkling of fresh parsley. Enjoy!