2 new things came together for me this week, to create a third new thing, which was a new recipe. The recipe turned out great, which meant the first two things were essential to the outcome of the third thing, and therefore are also great. Thing one, and thing two, coming together, as two things joined as one, to create a third thing. You still with me? Fantastic.
My first thing is my new crock pot. I have never in my life owned a crock pot or used one. Ever. Is that weird? It seems like everyone and their 2 dogs owns one of these, and has for a very long time. I don’t feel like I’m behind the times or anything. I guess I just never really felt an urgent need for one. But I like kitchen tools and appliances and I have been considering one for a while now. I am also a fan of the Pioneer Woman, and some of her products, so when I saw this pretty floral version of the Hamilton Beach, I decided I would finally buy one. An appliance is one thing, but a pretty appliance is a whole other ball of wax for me. I love pretty kitchen anything. Sold! To the lady with the big curly hair!
Last fall Rob’s aunt Mary also gave me a crock pot cookbook (I have a large cookbook collection and this was right up my alley!) so now that I had thing one, and thing 2, I was ready for action.
I chose a Hearty Chicken Chili for my first go. Here’s the recipe from the book:
I should say now, that if I am baking something, I follow the recipe letter by letter. I never stray. I am not the best baker in the world so I put my trust in the recipe and hope I don’t mess up on my end. But if I am cooking, don’t ever trust me to follow a recipe. I like to think of it as a guideline to catapult cooking creativity. I never know how my mood is going to swing my changes in a recipe, but depending on how I’m feeling when I cook, depends on how it will turn out.
I changed this very slightly as I went. Nothing major, but I’ll point out what changes I made as I go.
For step 1, I added everything as listed.
But for step 2, I just did what felt right. Instead of 2 cans of hominy, I just went with one, and then no pinto beans. I went with one can of black beans and one can of red kidney beans. Just because I felt like it. I’m a rebel.
But then I went off the deep end and added 2 chicken breasts, instead of the thighs, and I felt like 1 cup of chicken broth was not enough, so I went with about 2 to 2 ½. That’s right, I’m not really sure how much I put in the crock pot because I didn’t even measure. Gasp! But the liquid was needed and I stick by my choice. It was just enough to cover all the ingredients. I covered the crock pot and turned it on low for the recommended 7 hours.
I found it hard to walk away from an appliance that was turned on, and actually leave my house while it was cooking, and I was out. I thought about it constantly. Was my house burning down? What if I did something wrong and the chili was somehow burned on the bottom, or maybe bubbling over onto the counter, then onto the floor and flooding my kitchen with beans and chicken broth. (Hey, I watch “This Is Us”. I know how the house burned down). So, I obsessed until I got home from doing errands. It was fine. There was nothing wrong. It smelled divine and was ever so slowly cooking while I went about my business. I don’t know if you are supposed to or not, but I did lift the lid at least twice and stirred it around.
By hour 6, it was pretty much done, but I did want to thicken the broth so it was more of a stew. I once again strayed from the recipe and instead of using plain old flour, I decided to give it a richer flavor with some Masa instead. Here’s the kind I always use:
This is what I thicken every type of chili I make with. It’s a really nice flavor and I highly recommend it. It gives you the slightest corn flour taste. I took about 3 tablespoons with about a ¼ cup of chicken broth I still had left over and mixed it all together. (It’s a pretty thick mixture).
Then I poured it in the crock pot and stirred it in very well and put the lid back on and let it thicken for one more hour.
I ended up adding a little more salt and pepper to taste and I also added some cilantro right into the chili. Then I put in a little cayenne pepper as well. It just needed a little…..je ne sais quoi.
When I served it I put a little more cilantro on top because we love it in our house and the flavor was perfect with this chili. And it’s purrrrty. It matters how it looks, at least to me it does.
I suppose I turned this Hearty Chicken Chili into a Mexican Hearty Chicken Chili, but that’s fine by me. It was great. I will make this again, and I bet it will be different the second time around.
Oh, and my first time with a crock pot – is 5 stars! It’s pretty, it worked perfectly, and the clean up was so simple. I suppose I have nothing to compare it to, but it’s still a positive experience, so full marks! I now understand why people like them so much. It’s a one pot wonder that you can walk away from. Unless you’re like me and you’ve watched “This Is Us” and now you are forever scarred by faulty appliances. I know mine is new and the switch is not faulty, but still. I will never let Milo Ventimiglia die on my watch.
Just look past my issues and go get yerself a crock pot. We will live, and eat.
– The Homesteaders Wife