Two Years Ago: Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps
I have a thing about chicken thighs. I know they're more moist and flavorful than chicken breasts, but they also have all those ligament and tendon things that make them more difficult to eat, not to mention disgusting. My solution is the slow cooker, which causes all that icky stuff to go away and leaves beautiful moist and fall-apart tender chicken in its place.
I recently came across a recipe for slow cooker salsa verde chicken and was attracted to it because I have a favorite recipe for salsa verde that I like to make. I think it tastes fresher than the jarred version and I can control the sodium, but you could use your favorite brand if you prefer. I thought of using the salsa verde chicken as a springboard to make brown rice bowls.
In addition to the chicken and rice, I added spinach for nutrition, shredded red cabbage for crunch and color, cherry tomatoes for juicy sweetness, freeze-dried corn for crunch and color (found in the produce section of most stores), and sour cream for a touch of creaminess. Obviously you can vary the ingredients to your liking - you could add shredded cheese, pepitas, or different vegetables such as radishes. You could also use white rice in place of brown rice if you prefer. You could even eliminate the salsa verde chicken and substitute black beans to make a vegetarian version. Just try to add different colors and textures for the most interesting and pretty combination. Colorful food is more attractive, which means your picky eaters are more likely to try it.
This recipe serves 6 people, but it also works well for two people: dinner tonight, two work lunches later in the week, and one dinner in the freezer for a future hectic day.
Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken and Brown Rice Bowls
For the chicken:
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (16 oz) jar salsa verde (or homemade)
For the bowls:
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 ¾ cups water or low-sodium chicken broth
Your favorite southwest spice blend, to taste
6 cups baby spinach
1 ½ cups finely shredded red cabbage
1 ½ cups freeze-dried corn
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 ½ cups sour cream or Mexican crema
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish
Trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat; rinse and pat dry. Season both sides lightly with salt and pepper and place in a slow cooker in a single layer. Pour in the salsa verde to cover the chicken evenly. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 3.5 to 4 hours on high, or 5 to 6 hours on low. Uncover and shred the chicken using two forks. Taste and adjust seasonings.
During the last hour the chicken is cooking, prepare the rice; place water or chicken broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite southwest seasoning (depending on your preference and the spice level of the blend) and the rice and stir. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 45-50 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
To assemble the bowls, place 1 cup of baby spinach in each of six shallow bowls. Divide the chicken and sauce between bowls, then add the rice, cabbage, corn, and cherry tomatoes decoratively. Dollop the sour cream (or drizzle the crema) and add cilantro sprigs and lime wedges for garnish.