I make no bones about wanting crock pot recipes to be easy. I want them to save time – not just shift time around. I’m not getting up at 3:30 am to dice peppers and pre-cook onions. That’s laundry or writing time (and sometimes even sleep time)!
Short of dumping a single, whole chicken in a crock pot, I want something easy and hopefully nutritious and flavorful. (Humm, maybe I should try dumping a single, whole chicken in a crock pot.)
Cooked and yummy is our preference, but I can be a little flexible on week nights. I consider it success if we’ve all eaten a sufficient amount of nutritious stuff without too much bad stuff. There’s wiggle room. I definitely like it best when food is so yummy we all want seconds. That’s usually what we have with Misc Mex Meat Goop.
We love taco night at home, but cooking the meat, dicing, chopping fixin’s can take a long time. Misc Mex Meat Goop makes it much more do-able on a weeknight since I can throw the meat goop together in the morning, and it’s mostly ready to go when I get home. Likewise I can buy pre-shredded lettuce and cheese or cut a few veggies ahead of time. Also, I make enough for leftovers so we have several meals. If you have a big family you might want to double the recipe. (There’s only three of us.)
Misc Mex Meat Goop Ingredients
3-4 lbs boneless chicken* breasts and / or thighs or beef or pork (left whole or cut in half if really large, frozen or fresh is fine)
1 can enchilada sauce – red or green or make your own or use canned tomatoes with chili peppers or about a Cup of fresh diced tomatoes
3 packets taco seasoning mix (or equivalent bulk or homemade seasonings)
2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil (optional)
2 bell peppers cut in very large, wide slices (no need to dice). I like red or mix red & green.
1 onion, cut in large slices
1/2 cup whole baby carrots (optional)
3 cloves of garlic, pealed and cut up a little
1 jalapeño pepper cut in large chunks (if you like some heat – leave out for mild).
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen) or 1 can drained (optional)
1 can black beans (or pinto beans) drained (optional)
Put everything in an appropriately-sized slow cooker EXCEPT the corn, the beans, and HALF of the taco seasoning mix. You can just dump it all in and toss a little to coat and mix. I usually haphazardly layer the ingredients – a few slices of pepper and onion on the bottom, then pieces of chicken, then some more pepper and onion slices, then more chicken, seasoning, etc. Until it’s all in the pot and I pour the enchilada sauce over it all. But you can put it all in at once. Seriously, this does not and should not take long.
Put the lid on. Turn slow cooker to Low and leave it for 6 to 10 hours.
If you have a slow cooker that has a timer that can be set to change from Cook (Low or High) to Warm, then set it to Low for about 6 hours and it can stay on Warm until you’re ready to eat. Otherwise you can let it cook on Low for up to 10 hours. (Note that some cookers get hotter so keep that in mind. Add more liquid like enchilada sauce or a little water if you have a cooker that runs hot.) I like the chicken texture better at 6 hours. When food is done cooking, I drain off most of the extra liquid (if there is any) and reserve it for soup stock at a later date.
Take two forks and pull apart the chicken (or other meat) to shred it like pulled pork. It should be very tender, pull apart easily, and go quickly. Remove any large chunks of fat. The large chunks of veggies will break up as you go. This makes smaller chunks so you don’t need to dice anything before cooking. We’re fine with some small chunks and some larger – it’s rustic. About halfway through shredding I add the last half of the taco seasoning. The meat is still hot so the seasoning packet will cook as you go. I don’t add half at the beginning because if you end up with a lot of liquid that you need to drain off, then you’ll be draining off a lot of seasoning and end up with a bland meat mixture.
Then add 1 cup or 1 can of drained corn and 1 can of drained beans. Again, the meat goop should be hot enough to warm the corn and beans. I like corn to taste like corn and beans to be a little firm, so adding these at the end works well for us. Stir.
If you like, you can leave the goop in a crock pot set to Warm while you eat your first helping. It will be warm and handy for seconds.
We eat this in tortillas as filling for burritos or enchiladas, in taco shells with toppings, or spoon over corn chips for a great start to taco salad. Add lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, cheese, salsa, black olives, etc for toppings.
Eat leftovers the same way. Warm in a pot on the stove or in the microwave.
When and if you have only one or two helpings of Meat Goop left you can add it back to that extra liquid for a yummy Tortilla soup.
*For this recipe I use large boneless chicken breasts and thighs. Larger breasts usually come from older chickens and that means meat that is less tender. That is OK — good even. Perfect for slow cooking. And I can often find these for a lower price. Slow cooking makes them pull apart tender, so I put the breast and thighs in whole (or cut in half). You can sub a cheap cut of beef or pork for the chicken or even mix ’em if you like. Check out more notes on Slow Cookers or Crock Pots here.