Crock pot meals are awesome. Pressure cooker meals are awesome. I basically love anything that gives you a meal while doing all the work.
Someone at work informed me that her new crock pot was making her seriously reconsider her need for a man in her life. Why bother with a spouse if the crock pot is happily making you a fuss-free meal, ready for when you get home from work?
Not gonna lie, I couldn’t really find fault with that logic. I only discovered crock pots AFTER I got married, when my in-laws got me one for Christmas.
This recipe uses a few Indian spices, but it has very Mexican flavours. It works quite well, since the flavour profiles of Indian and Mexican food can be quite similar, as are the toppings. Plus all the capsaicin in the peppers release all the lovely endorphins, so really, eating this is kind of like working out. Yeah, let’s go with that.
Jokes aside, this dish has very little fat, loads of protein and fiber and as many veggies as you want to chuck in, so it’s pretty hard to find fault with the finished product. Plus it tastes wicked awesome. You don’t have to use 10 types of chili peppers (which I do, because I’m one of those nutjobs that has more than 10 types of chili pepper lying around their kitchen), use as few or as many as you like. Remember that the heat does mellow as this slow-cooks, so it won’t be as intense, even though there are some big-kid chilies in this dish. Also, use small amounts of each chili pepper – they all bring something to the dish, but don’t need heaping portions of each.
- 1 lb lean ground turkey or lean ground chicken
- 1 medium onion – diced
- 3 cloves garlic – minced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 can red kidney beans – drained and rinsed (or 1 cup of dried kidney beans – soaked overnight and microwaved on low-med setting for 5-8 minutes)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo (with 1 tsp of the adobo sauce)
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper (seeds removed) – diced
- 2 sweet Cubanelle peppers – cut into big chunks
- 1 can tomatoes (or 5-6 ripe, medium Roma tomatoes – diced)
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1/2 habanero or scotch bonnett pepper – deseeded and diced (use gloves when handling these peppers, I’m not kidding)
- 1/2 tsp Cumin powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/8 tsp ancho chili powder
- 1/8 tsp chilli flakes
- 1/8 tsp regular red chili powder
- 1/8 tsp smoked paprika (the sweet & mild one)
- 1/8 tsp regular paprika
- 1/8 tsp cajun spice blend
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/8 tsp green chili paste (or 1/2 a green chili pepper)
- 1 thai red chili – deseeded and diced
- (Phew that’s a lot of chili peppers. I’m sweating just thinking about it. Don’t worry though, it does work out in the end)
- Heat olive oil in a skillet
- Add onions and sauté till translucent. Lower heat slightly.
- Add garlic and sauté another minute or so.
- Add ground chicken, bay leaf and about half the cumin. Add one of the chili powders – say, paprika. Add a few pinches of salt – no more than 1/8 tsp.
- Sauté till the chicken on med-high heat until it’s fully cooked, and has some nice, brown color.
- Add the chicken, fresh peppers, tomatoes (if using whole canned tomatoes, give them a rough dice), all of the spices (use a few or all the chili powders), vinegar, sugar, pepper, chipotle pepper, jalapeno, and kidney beans to the crock pot/ slow cooker. Add at most 1/2 a cup of water and mix everything together.
- Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 4-5 hours, until the vegetables are tender and everything is all delicious and stewed together. If it’s too watery, add 1/2 tsp of cornstarch mixed with water in the last half-hour of cooking and stir everything together.
- If you end up with a too-spicy mixture (I have NO idea how that could happen…), throw in a cup of frozen corn or peas to sweeten the dish.
- Serve with fat-free plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream, chopped green onions, cilantro and grated cheese.
- For a vegetarian version, use the vegan-meat you get in most grocery stores. With all the flavour you’re adding, you won’t even know it’s tofu. Add extra red peppers, add some fresh corn and even some frozen edamame for an extra hit of veggies.
- Seriously you guys, don’t use too much of each of the chili powders – especially if you want to be adventurous and try them all. A few pinches of each will be more than enough. The one to try and get in for sure though, is the chipotle peppers in adobo. That is one of the main ways to lend some great Mexican flavour to the dish without adding too much heat.