Student blog: Slow-cooked chilli chicken

Sophie EdmondsHello! Slow-cookers are very underrated.

I had never used one before this year as my mum seemed to have lost the base of hers. The best thing about slow cookers is that there is no fiddly multistep preparation. Just throw everything into the pot in the morning, turn it on and go. I even got the ingredients out and peeled my onions and garlic for this the night before!

I really like chicken. We don't seem to eat as much of it down here as I would like, mostly because it's more expensive than the mince or vego options. However, every so often when chicken is on special we stock up on both breast and leg. We separate the legs into bags of three or four so we have nice one-meal portions ready to go in the freezer especially for this meal.

This recipe happens to come from my flatmate's mum, so full credit for excellence goes to her! It is best served with lots of sour cream, cheese and a good sprinkling of fresh coriander. What is really nice about it is that you get the warmth that a chilli con carne gives you but it is a refreshing change from the usual mince.

This dinner was first described to me as "tinny", as in all you really need is a few tins of this and that and Bam!, you have dinner. Did I mention this was really easy?

It takes about 11 minutes to assemble and 10 hours on slow in the slow-cooker or six hours on high. I bumped it up to high for the last few hours just to make sure it was nice and thick. This can also be made on the stovetop, just as you would when making a spag bol or normal chilli.

When I made it for my mum during the holidays on the stovetop I used strips of chicken thigh. Breast also works well. Because we are cooking the chicken for such a long time in the slow-cooker it doesn't matter what meat cut you get, since the slow cooking time will melt it straight off the bone.

Drumsticks are the cheapest and we only used three (really chunky ones) in this recipe and there was enough to feed eight (or six very (very) hungry males). I froze the leftovers to use another night. The original recipe has a packet of Old El Paso taco seasoning in it. I checked the back of the packet and all that is in it is common spices mixed in with a bit of anti-caking agent. So if you want to save money and spend probably an extra two minutes of time just use the spices I list below.

Let's do this shall we?

Slow-cooked chilli chicken
(serves 6)

2 onions, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, diced
1 tin black beans in chilli sauce or chilli kidney beans
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin whole-kernel corn, drained
1 small tin tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
A few Tbsps of sweet chilli sauce
1 heaped tsp of paprika
1 heaped tsp of ground cumin each
½ teaspoon ground chilli
A sprinkling of cumin seeds (optional)
A sprinkling of dried oregano
Enough chicken for each person (so a drumstick or thigh per person and one for the pot, or one breast between two)

For the slow-cooker:
Pop everything in the slow-cooker, give it a stir, pop the lid on, turn on either low or high depending on time available then walk away. Six hours on high or 10 on low. At about 5pm get two forks and pull the meat off the bone and the chunks of meat apart (it should fall apart). Pop the lid back on and let it cook for another hour more.

If you want to do this on the stovetop, use breast or thigh as it will need to be mostly cooked before the liquids go in.

For the stovetop:
Sauté the onions and garlic. Slice the chicken into nice decent-sized strips, brown these up in the pan. Don't worry about cooking them through, just aim to get a bit of colour on the meat. Sprinkle in your spices and stir the pan contents around to ensure a nice coating. Let the spices cook for a minute or two to help release some of their flavours. Next add the tomatoes, beans, corn, sweet chilli sauce, salt and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for a further 40 minutes to an hour.

Serve with rice/corn chips/in tortilla bread with a good dollop of sour cream, cheese, sweet chilli sauce and a sprinkling of fresh coriander.

Enjoy!

- Sophie

Check out Sophie's blog: sophielikescake.blogspot.co.nz