Greetings, party people, how are you? Do anything fun this weekend? I know I sound like a broken record but we kept thing pretty low key around here. Ben was still recouping on Saturday so my Mom and I took Lincoln to the mall for some lunch, Christmas shopping, and running out his crazies in a fairly unused entrance hallway in the mall. I don’t think he’s ever run for that long in a continuous stretch (at home he’s got to dodge tables, chairs, etc.) – he was looooving the freedom!
Note to self: do this more often. Someone was absolutely exhausted and took an epic nap afterwards!
While he napped I – dunh, dunh, dunnnhhh – WORKED OUT! My heart is so happy. It’s been exactly a year since I committed to getting back into a fitness routine post-baby, and, well, that didn’t happen even a little bit. Frankly my health hasn’t been great since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease last winter and most days it’s all I can do to stay awake until 8pm. That said, I refuse to live this way forever so I’m hoping getting back in the gym will jump start my commitment to achieving better health in the new year. All I can do is try!
Anyway, later that night Ben and I watched two movies on Netflix worth mentioning – Tiny Furniture with Lena Dunham (filmed pre-Girls but has half the cast,) and Drinking Buddies with Olivia Wilde and Nick from New Girl. Both were kind of about nothing, but entertaining nonetheless!
The boys had a man-day on Sunday while I blasted Christmas music on Pandora and knocked out some work, including typing up this blog post featuring Crock Pot Ranchero Chicken!
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are slow cooked in homemade Ranchero Sauce then shredded and stuffed into everything from tacos and enchiladas, or piled high onto nachos and tostadas, like I’m showing here today. This is an awesome low-fat crock pot recipe!
Honestly, a lot of crock pot chicken recipes worry me. I’ve made a couple where the chicken has turned out so try it’s like eating dust. Has that ever happened to you? This chicken is anti-crock pot chicken dust. Juicy, tender, full of flavor, and healthy, too! There’s no extra fat in the recipe besides a tablespoon of oil in the Ranchero Sauce for sauteing a few vegetables.
So Ranchero Sauce – let’s talk about it. Think thick, simmered salsa made by sauteing onions, bell peppers (oh yes, they’re so good in here that I’m even eating ’em!) jalapenos, and spices then simmering them with chicken broth and tomato sauce until thick and concentrated in flavor. Have you heard of Huevos Rancheros? This is the sauce that’s used in that dish. I actually spooned some leftover sauce over a couple eggs and bacon I had for a fourth meal a few days ago and it rocked my face clear off.
While there’s jalapenos, cayenne pepper, and red chili pepper flakes in Crock Pot Ranchero Chicken, I didn’t find it to be too spicy and Lincoln even inhaled a decent portion the night I made it for dinner without a problem. That said, if you or whoever you share your food with (whoever you share your food with?) doesn’t like spicy food then, by all means, halve the jalapeno and/or omit the red chili pepper flakes. I used to HATE spicy food – it just always seemed to overwhelm the flavor of the dish – but I’ve slowly come around these past couple of years. Siracha is still on my no fly list though – I can’t taste anything through it.
Start the Ranchero Sauce by sauteing 1 large shallot or 1/2 onion, 1 green bell pepper, and 1 jalapeno that’s been seeded and minced in 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive in a large, deep skillet (10-12″.) Season with salt and pepper then saute until the vegetables are tender, 5 minutes.
Add 3 cloves minced garlic, 2 teaspoons cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon (or more or less) cayenne pepper then saute for 1 more minute.
Add 4 cups chicken broth and 15oz crushed tomatoes then bring the liquid to a boil. Turn the heat down just slightly then boil until the mixture has reduced by half (about 3 cups,) which will take around 20 minutes. A splatter screen is really handy especially towards the end when the Ranchero Sauce get’s really thick. Most grocery stores sell them for a couple bucks these days but if you can’t find one just place a lid partially on top with the open part facing the back of the stove.
After reducing, the Ranchero Sauce will be thick and flavorful. YUM! Taste then add salt and pepper if necessary.
Finally, stir in 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro. Now, you can use the Ranchero Sauce right away, or stash in the fridge for up to 3 days.
When you’re ready to make the Crock Pot Ranchero Chicken, to a 5-6 quart crock pot add 2lbs chicken breasts, 2 cups chicken broth, the juice from 1/2 lime, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, a couple good shakes of red chili pepper flakes, and a partridge in a pear tree. Just wanted to see if you were still reading. :) Add 2 cups Ranchero Sauce then place a lid on top and cook on low for 5 hours or until the chicken shreds very easily.
Shred the chicken then slide back into the cooking liquid and cook for 1 more hour on low. It should shred with just the tap of a fork!
Strain the chicken out of the cooking liquid then mix with the remaining Ranchero Sauce and use in everything from tacos and enchiladas, to nachos and tostadas. Got leftovers? Scoop into a freezer bag then freeze flat!
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Crock Pot Ranchero Chicken
Crock Pot Ranchero Chicken is slow cooked shredded chicken in a zesty Ranchero Sauce. Use for tacos, enchiladas, nachos, or tostadas!
- 2lbs chicken breasts
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper + shake red pepper flakes
- juice of 1/2 lime
- For the Ranchero Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallot or 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 15oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- For the Ranchero Sauce: Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet (10-12") over medium-high heat. Add shallot, bell pepper, and jalapeno pepper, season with salt and pepper, then saute until vegetables are tender, 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper then saute for 1 more minute. Add chicken broth and crushed tomatoes then turn heat to high to bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat slightly then boil, stirring often, until sauce reduces by half (3 cups,) about 20 minutes. (A splatter screen is very helpful, especially near the end.) Taste then add salt and pepper if necessary, and then stir in fresh cilantro.
- To a large, 5-6 quart crock pot, add the chicken broth, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, lime juice, chicken breasts and 2 cups Rancher Sauce. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours then shred chicken and place back in the juices to cook on low for 1 more hour. Scoop chicken into a storage container then mix with remaining Ranchero Sauce. Use chicken as filling for tacos, enchiladas, nachos, or tostadas.
- Ranchero Sauce can be made up to three days ahead of time.
- A splatter screen is helpful to make sure sauce doesn't splatter on the stove. If you don't have a splatter screen, place a lid partially on top of the skillet.
- The USDA recommends thawing meat before cooking it in the crock pot.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
I used the chicken to create super simple tostadas. Spray corn tortillas with nonstick spray then drizzle with fresh lime juice and a sprinkling of salt, and then bake at 350 degrees for 4-5 minutes. Top with Ranchero Chicken and shredded Monterrey Jack cheese then either broil or microwave until melted. Top with a thwack of Lazy Girl’s Guacamole (fresh avocado mashed with garlic salt and lime juice) then dig in! Enjoy!