For about the past month, I've been working diligently to plan our meals ahead of time every week rather than trying to come up with a plan at 5 pm everyday. I won't lie - I still find it to be a tedious task and I have to set aside a few hours each weekend to get it done. But you know what guys? It's really paying dividends so I'm going to try to keep it up. When I don't have a plan I buy haphazardly at the grocery store and we wind up throwing out a ton of food. So not only are we saving money now, but our fridge and freezer are SO clean, I love it. Gone are the days of finding science experiments from who knows how long ago hiding in the back corner of the fridge :) It also makes weekdays a lot easier since it removes the stress of trying to piece together whatever happens to be in the house to make a meal.
When I'm working on the meal plan for the week, I try to include a few dishes that are repeats - tried and true favorites, as well as a couple of new recipes. You've probably noticed by now that I'm all about easy dinner recipes. Very rarely do I want to spend hours cooking dinner on a weeknight, and frankly, it's a pretty rare occasion that I have that desire on the weekend either. That said, I have no problem with a meal that has a long cooking time so long as 90% of it is hands off, which makes my slow cooker a pretty useful appliance. A few of our meals in the past few weeks, including this mole chicken chili, have utilized it, and I know there'll be more to come this winter.
Let me say off the bat that I've never had authentic mole sauce. I understand it's generally made using lots of dried chiles, chocolate, and nuts, and is really fantastic - one of these days I will actually give it a go. This recipe, though, takes some shortcuts and turns to substitutes you probably have in your pantry, like cocoa powder and spices such as chili powder, cinnamon and cloves. It'll probably take you less than 15 minutes to get everything in the slow cooker and then you set it to low and go about your day. The recipe says 4-6 hours, but my chicken was fall apart tender at just shy of 4 hours. The chicken is shredded and stirred back into the sauce then it's all served over white rice. I wasn't sure how this one would go over, but Shane and I both enjoyed it quite a bit. The sauce was quite rich and flavorful, unlike anything I've ever had in terms of flavor with the combination of ingredients at work here. There were a ton of leftovers too. I made the full recipe and we were fed for dinner one night as well as lunch for another 2 or 3 days. I confess I was sort of sick of chili by the end, but it definitely made my meal planning task easier that week!
Slow Cooker Mole Chicken Chili
from Slow Cooker Revolution
2 onions, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons Minute tapioca
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilis
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (I omitted)
Combine the onions, vegetable oil, chili powder, cocoa powder, garlic, cinnamon and cloves in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until the onions are softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker. Add the broth, tomatoes (and their juice), raisins, peanut butter, tapioca and chipotle chilis and stir to combine. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper then nestle into the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until the chicken is fall-apart tender. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and, using 2 forks, shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Let the chili settle for a few minutes then skim any fat from the surface with a spoon. Add the chicken back to the slow cooker and heat for just a few minutes to warm through. Mix in the scallions and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over white rice and garnish with the sesame seeds.