I had about two pounds of boneless chicken breast defrosted and one of Leandro’s besties and his mom coming over for a congenial play date and dinner. I have the habit of fussing in the kitchen when they come over, as Amanda is an appreciative eater who likes to try new stuff. For the kids I usually make macaroni and cheese (from a box that — try not to roll your eyes — purports to be organic. Is this the foodie equivalent of ordering a bacon cheeseburger, fries and a diet Coke?)
This time, I wanted to be able to do more sitting and talking than mucking about with pots and pans. I don’t want my guests to be speaking to my back as I stir something on the stove and I just didn’t feel like making a second meal for the kids. I hate doing that, actually, but end up there more than I like to admit.
So this recipe — which I adapted from others I have done or read — was perfect. Just bung everything into a pot and a half hour later you have tasty, crowd-pleasing goodness that you can pile onto other Mexican-infused ingredients. On this occasion I made quick quesadillas with red beans (another one pot dish, see below) and Cheddar and Dominican white cheese which Leandro, Amanda and I ate, accompanied with avocado, cilantro and red onion. The revelation was Lucas, a bit more of a picky eater, who tasted the quesadilla (both the all-cheese just-in-case one and a chicken one) which by itself would’ve been cool, but who ended up loving the chicken on its own and eating several servings!
And yes, I sat – we all sat down to dinner together, in fact — and I didn’t fuss! Hurray!
Mexican-Style Shredded Chicken
2 lbs boneless chicken breasts
½ Cup onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stock cube and four cups of water OR four cups of your favorite chicken stock
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced, seeds removed (1 pepper was not very spicy; play with this proportion according to your taste)
Place all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 20 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked. If you have time, you can cook it longer for more tenderness. Remove from heat and remove chicken from any remaining liquid. Allow to cool, shred, and serve – hot or cold — in your favorite Mexican-style recipes (quesadillas, tacos, with rice, on salads). Flavor affinities include avocado, lime, cilantro, kidney beans.
Easy Red Kidney Beans
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs minced onion
1 half stock cube
1 tsp oregano
1/4-1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable juice (less water for drier beans)
1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp chopped cilantro
Saute onion in olive oil until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 15 minutes until flavors are incorporated.