I'm having a taco party tomorrow night and I want to make juicy, flavorful, spicy shredded chicken in my crock pot...I've never used a crock pot before, so any full-proof easy recipes/ideas/tips?
use big cuts (ie whole breasts instead of slices...though IMO bone in thighs are the best for shredded chicken) since they're in their for so long, they could over-braise if the cuts are too small. also use bone-in if you can for most flavour.
use liquid but not to fully cover the chicken...anything you add (eg vevgetables) will lose their water and you'll see you'll have more water at the end than when you started.
don't lift the lid until you really think it needs checking...my guess is thighs should take about 4-5 hours on low, breasts maybe 6-7 but you might want to get other's opinions on that.
when you're done, shred the chicken and throw it back in the crockpot juices and put it on the "keep warm" setting
Disagree about timing for breast and thighs. Breast meat will cook more quickly than thighs. So I would likely cook the breasts for 4-5 hours and the thighs 6-7 hours. Overcooking is what makes any meat dry, even when it's braising in liquid. Depending on your slowcooker, I would cook on low and start checking at around 3 hours. You don't need a lot of liquid because cooking in the slowcooker will result in a wetter product. So keep the chicken parts whole, cook until tender and shred-able, remove from the cooker, and shred with your hands or 2 forks. You can add the cooking liquid if the shredded meat feels dry.
It can probably be done, but keep in mind that you want to end up with very little liquid for tacos- you're likely to have to either discard a lot of highly7 flavored liquid or reduce it separately. Rick Bayless gives a recipe for chicken tinga on his site, but he starts with cooked chicken (he seems to favor rotisserie chicken for these things). Being a coward, I might go with this approach over trying out the crockpot for the first time on guests. He also has a pork tinga recipe that is cooked in a crockpot; I tried that one- came out way too wet for tacos.
I'm with oldunc. I wouldn't risk bungling a dinner party meal with brand new, never used equipment/techniques.
For any dinner party dish, I would always want to practice it at least once on my own, before trying it out on a significant dining event.
Professional cooks do this as well, practicing while developing a new recipe: writing ingredients/quantities, procedures, etc. before unveiling the new item on the menu.
I made this just the other day. It's delicious. I like the little kick of the Habanero especially since the Poblanos seemed extra mile this summer. Be sure to wear gloves when prepping your peppers. Serve with salsa, guacamole, cilantro, sour cream or cream, and some shredded cheese if you like cheese on tacos.
As an added bonus, here's a guacamole trick from The Kitchn..it works!! Make your guacamole. Place in a container, packing it tightly so there are no air bubbles or gaps. Cover with a thin layer of water. Water keeps the oxygen away from the avocados which is what causes it to turn brown. I've tried olive oil and plastic wrap. Water works beautifully. Just pour it off and give your guacamole a stir and serve. It's like you've just made it.
I meant to also say that I prefer chicken cooked on low, so that's what I did. I don't think it took much more than 4 or 5 hours. I made it the day before a Taco Tuesday potluck, so unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to the time.
My go to for shredded chicken is dead simple. I use a can of enchilada (I'm sure I misspelled that) sauce - the large one and cook the chicken in that on low while I'm at work. Then drain, shred and return to the crock pot with a fresh can of the same sauce and there you go. You could for sure adjust for a more taco-y flavor. But we use it for taco-type dinners all the time. Because it takes approximately no effort at all. Let me know what you decide to do!
Thanks for all of your input. I used both breasts and thighs, canned tomatoes, green chiles, chipotles in adobo, garlic, and spices. Let it cook on low for about 7 hours and it turned out so tender and flavorful. Slow cookers are amazing!
Sounds delicious. I love slow cookers. Once you get yours figured out, you'll love it. They don't all cook at the same temperature and that makes recipes challenging. I have 3 and they all cook a little differently. The newer ones cook hotter because of pressure from FDA. I use mine all the time. I've got one on my counter now with Merrill's Garlicky Brothy Beans simmering away.