Some days call for taking it slow. Some days call for Mexican food. Some days call for walking in the door to a dinner that's ready to go.
And some days call for all three.
This week we're talking Mexican food done in a slow cooker for just those days when you want to throw something together and forget about it until dinner time. And, bonus! I'm giving you not just one, but THREE ways to do Mexican in the slow cooker.
This week's post is for Kate, my busy working girl who likes to cook but needs new ideas. Easy ideas. Slow cooker ideas. (And who asked me to do a post specifically for the slow cooker).
I got to thinking, what do I like to eat from the slow cooker? And one of my favorite things is Mexican food. Carnitas, tacos, shredded meat of any kind.
So I decided to try slow cooker Mexican recipes using three different types of meat: pork, chicken, and beef. I thought I'd do a little taste test and tell you which I liked best, but to be honest, I loved them all so much I couldn't pick a clear winner (although one person in the house did say that she liked the pork the best). The recipes I'm sharing today are all equally delicious, easy to prepare, and versatile.
And, as a bonus, they make a TON of food, so you can use the meat for leftovers all week. Think tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, nachos. No two meals need to be the same. (Although, if you really like tacos, go ahead and eat them every night. There's no rule about not repeating meals that I know of.)
This week, rather than step-by-step instructions, I'm just going to tell you a little about each recipe. Then you can just head to my Recipes page to get the printable recipe.
First up, Pork Carnitas.
This recipe came about because I saw a huge chunk of meat at Costco and knew I needed to have it. (Yeah, I'm not that girl who sees a new jacket or a cute workout top at Costco and needs it. I see meat and need to try it out. I'm so weird.)
Pork shoulder is a cut I had heard discussed on Food Network lots of times, but one that I had never bought before. I thought it would be fatty and gross, but actually, the meat turned out to be tender and flavorful. Absolutely delicious!
For this recipe, I bought a 7-pound pork shoulder and cut it in half. One half went directly into the freezer for another time (hmmm, this weekend, perhaps?), and the other half got cut into chunks, seasoned with a spice rub, and placed in my slow cooker.
You guys, there was nothing to it! Seriously. Rub the meat. Put it in the slow cooker. Squeeze some lime juice over the top. Chop up some onions and garlic. Add a couple of chipotle peppers and some chicken stock, and you're DONE!
Oh, the juicy goodness that came out of this one. We loved it.
[And can you believe that I forgot to take a picture? Yeah, me too.]
Up next, Slow-Cooker Chili Chicken Tacos (via Martha Stewart because, well, she's Martha and it's hard to improve on perfection).
I was a little hesitant to try this recipe because it called for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and I am not, repeat NOT, a dark meat person. But I searched a ton of recipes for the one that met my criteria--moist, easy, and sounded delicious--and this one seemed to fit the bill.
So I put my big girl panties on and used the chicken thighs. Oh, I know, I could have probably substituted boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but sometimes the white meat can turn out dry in the slow cooker, so I got the thighs. I'm so glad I did!
This chicken turned out so tender and delicious, plus it was SO EASY to throw together.
You basically just toss all of the ingredients in the crock pot and let 'er go. Amazing.
Finally, the beef. This may be my favorite recipe of the three because I'm a farm girl and I love me some beef.
I've been making this recipe for a while now, and I can tell you that it's really, really good. It takes a little more effort than the previous two recipes, but it's worth it. Trust me.
As far as cuts of meat go, I've used a chuck roast (a pot roast for those of you who don't know your cuts of meat), and I've used round steak. The chuck roast comes out a little more juicy and tender, but in a pinch, round steak works just fine. It's a less fatty cut, too, if you're worried about that kind of thing.
For this one you make a spice rub, which you rub all over the meat, and then you brown the meat in a skillet or dutch oven until the meat is very brown on both sides. These are the extra steps. If you can get through rubbing and browning, you're home free.
Next, just place the meat in your slow cooker, throw some onions, garlic, chipotle peppers, and beef stock on top, and forget about it.
Until you come back home later and your house smells like Mexican food heaven.
Obviously, all three of these recipes require shredding the meat with two forks. You can do this. I have faith in you.
And toppings. I suggest avocado or homemade guacamole, tomatoes, salsa, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
Ahhhhh. This is making me so hungry that I'm going to go thaw some meat and make some more.
And you should too. Make one of these recipes this weekend. You'll have more time to get outside and do fun stuff and your family will thank you.
For the printable version of these recipes, click on the recipe title below.
Slow Cooker Chili Chicken Tacos
Shredded Beef Tacos
Let me know how it goes in the comments!
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