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Crockpot Chicken Carnitas

And how to stretch it to feed a family

Get ready for a lot of crockpot love coming your way.

I adore crockpots.

My days are long. Most days I’m gone around 7a and not home until after 6p, if not even later. When I can I run home to cook lunch for myself, but more often than not I’m bringing all the things with me.

Enter. My crockpot. There was a time I had two. That’s how much I love them. They’re low maintenance, efficient, very forgiving, and always reliable. Like a boyfriend dog should be.

You throw everything in. Let it go low and slow. And boom you have 4-5 servings of a lovely comforting meal ready to go. I use my crockpot weekly to cook up large batches of chicken, ready to shred and then add to a skillet of vegetables when I get home at night throughout the week. I use it to make soups and chilis for when the next polar vortex comes its way. I use it to clean out my pantry of random cans and spices. I know that as long as I have a big batch of a cooked protein ready to go, the random vegetables I can find in my fridge and freezer will help me round out that meal.

My crockpot chicken carnitas are a staple in my place. A dish typically made with pork, I have found that you can achieve just as delicious results using chicken. The chicken is so perfectly spiced, and the added texture from the classic carnitas crispy broiled edges make it perfect to mix on top of a salad of romaine lettuce, peppers, and roasted sweet potatoes. Or eat it burrito style in a tortilla with salsa and a glob (technical term) of guacamole. Maybe reheat it on the stove with rice and potatoes and make a big hot carnitas bowl out of it.

What’s great about cooking a bulk protein like this in advance is that you are then in total control of how to fix it on busy weekday nights. Feeding a family? Have the cheese, tortillas, and fixings all ready to go. Flying solo? Top that bad boy on a salad, maybe drizzle some Primal Kitchen ranch over the top, and enjoy a quiet night to yourself. Just because there are multiple mouths with varying health goals does not ever mean you need to sacrifice your own. Dress it up, dress it down, and make it work.

One of the many wonderful things about a lot of crockpot recipes are how few ingredients are required. Sure you can jazz it up. But when it tastes just as wonderful with minimal ingredients, why go through the trouble? These carnitas are made with lots of citrus, a few spices, and just a little amount of effort. I’ve included some ideas as well to help turn it into a meal, whether you’re feeding just yourself or a crowd!

Enjoy and please let me know what you think!

 


 

Crockpot Chicken Carnitas with Mexican cauliflower rice

(paleo, Whole30, gluten free)
Serves 5

For the carnitas:

  • 2 lb. chicken breasts/thighs – whichever you prefer. I normally do a mix of both!
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper
  • couple pinches of cinnamon (my secret ingredient)

Directions:

  1. Throw it all in the crock pot and cook 8hrs on low or 4-5hrs on high
  2. When it’s done, shred chicken with two forks (save all liquid!)
  3. Preheat oven to broil, spread shredded chicken on baking sheet and pour liquid all over
  4. Stick it under the broiler for a couple minutes, mix it around and repeat until most of chicken gets a good crispy color

Boom. Chicken’s done. At this point, you have yourself a big ‘ol thing of really yummy chicken that you could drop in some Tupperware, put in the fridge, and have to add in bowls, salads, wraps, whatever your heart desires.

OR. You can take that chicken you just made, make all the veggies below, and have yourself a party.

Roasted peppers and cauliflower rice:

  • 1 bag of frozen cauliflower rice
  • 1 cup fresh cauliflower rice (optional)
  • ½ green bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ red bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ sweet onion, sliced

Roasted sweet potatoes:

  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes
  • couple tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tsp of chipotle chili powder

Directions:

  1. Slice peppers and onions
  2. Arrange peppers and onions on baking sheet with cauliflower rice
  3. Drizzle everything with a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin or any Mexican seasonings
  4. Roast together at 375 for about 20 minutes until cauliflower has a little color and peppers and onions are soft
  5. Mix in the fresh cauliflower rice, if using. I like the texture of the roasted rice with the fresh! Add a few spoonsful of salsa as well to give it some moisture.

At this point, you’re done. All that is left is to assemble.

What I do:

In a plastic or glass container, whatever you have, put a layer of the cauliflower rice and peppers on the bottom. Add on a small handful of the sweet potatoes (about ½ cup) and top with chicken. Done and done. When I’m ready to eat it, a lot of times I’ll add fresh romaine on top, maybe a little salsa if I have a jar in the fridge, and almost always Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Ranch and/or an avocado. Get yo-self some healthy fats.

Additional adds and men/family friendly ideas:

Avocado (duh), cilantro, green onions, romaine lettuce, plain greek yogurt (or sour cream), shredded cheddar cheese, rice, tortillas.

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