We've been out of the kitchen for several days now and it looks like there won't be much time for cooking over the coming weekend either. We're on the road traveling back to the Central Coast from L.A. The weekend will be a busy one with a fun family wedding to attend and lots of family around. We'll also be packing up and getting ready to head back to our Midwest Headquarters, also known as home.
In the meantime, I couldn't leave you hanging out there with the blueberry lemon cake forever, (although you could do worse), so thought I'd reprise one of our favorite recipes for you. I've been working on this Tex Mex bean recipe for months and I think I finally solved my cooking dilemma. Be sure to read the follow-up post after the recipe! Enjoy!
From December 15, 2009....
Not sure if you remember, but way back in October I mentioned this recipe that I wanted to share with you, but it wasn’t quite post-worthy at that time. Well, wait no more, Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans is ready. Sort of. Here’s the story….
I found this recipe in my Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine a while back…chicken, pinto beans, salsa, chipotle peppers in adobo… I just love these flavors. So with great anticipation, I made some up. The problem was that it turned out incredible!! It was perfect. Why is that a problem, you ask? Well, it was a problem because I didn’t follow the recipe. I didn’t trust it. I do that way too often, actually.
So this is a chicken and bean thing that is cooked for 8 hours in a crock pot or slow-cooker. I do have one of those, but I just don’t like using it. Can you see how I make life unbearably difficult for myself sometimes? I really wanted to make this in my heavy cast-iron Le Crueset pot on the stove. The other thing about this recipe is that it asks you to start with dried pinto beans.
I just wasn’t a believer. I couldn’t imagine dried pinto beans cooking completely on low heat even for 8 hours. So the first time through, I chickened out and made it with canned pinto beans. It was so absolutely delicious, but I felt guilty that I hadn’t tried it their way. Maybe those beans would cook just fine on low, and be even better than the canned, so I tried it again, and darn if after 8 hours those beans weren’t still hard as little, well, dried beans. But maybe I didn’t have enough heat under my pot, so I made it again with a little more heat. The beans almost cooked, but the last 3 hours I had to really crank up the heat to get them done. They were still a little toothsome, and the flavors weren’t nearly as good as when I had used the canned beans.
So what can I say? You could try this in your crock pot on low for 8 hours and see if the beans cook through, or you can use canned pinto beans and just enjoy the heck out of this stuff. The flavors are so good that I’ve decided to not feel guilty about it anymore.
I made this with homemade corn tortillas and Mexican rice. A slice or two of avocado would be perfect on top. Hope you’ll give this a try – and I would love it if someone out there used their crockpot (mine is old and unreliable) and tried this with the dried beans. I’d love to hear how it comes out. The file is definitely not closed on this one!
Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans
1 cup dried pinto beans, rinsed *(see below for alternate recipe)
1 jar (11 ounces) mild or medium red salsa (1 ½ cups)
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons flour*
1 cup water*
1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
*If using canned beans:
3 cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup water
1/2 cup sour cream
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, stir together beans, salsa, chiles, flour and 1 cup water (see alternate instructions if using canned beans). Season chicken with salt and pepper, arrange on top of bean mixture. Scatter onion and bell pepper on top of chicken.
Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours. (Do not open lid or stir).
Remove chicken from stew, shred into large pieces and return to stew. Keep warm until ready to serve. Top each serving with sour cream, chopped cilantro and sliced avocado. Serve with warm tortillas and Mexican rice.
Still workin' on this recipe and I think I finally figured out how to make this come out perfectly. Before I throw everything in the pot to cook for 8 hours, I put the dried beans in about 4 cups of cold water with a little salt. I brought these to a boil and then simmered them for 30 minutes. Then I drained the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. This gave the beans a great headstart on cooking! The recipe calls for a cup of water, but I substituted that with the cooking liquid from the beans, which gave this even more flavor. I cooked this in the oven for close to 8 hours at 250 degrees and it came out perfect! Perfect, I tell you.
So there you have it.... problem solved and one of the yummiest bean dishes you'll ever make.