(Vicki James) I’ve now made this delightful recipe from the N.Y. Times twice, so I am happy to vouch for it. It’s so easy, so delicious and so versatile, it’s bound to become a favorite of anyone who tries it. And why wouldn’t you? It’s easy enough for a child to make. However, I wouldn’t recommend it because dealing with chipotle peppers can be a little dicey. Let’s keep all unnecessary ER visits to a minimum, shall we? Now that I’ve scared you to death, I want to reassure you that cooking with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce is a breeze – provided you wear a hazmat suit. No, really, I’m just having a little fun. However, when I was cleaning up some spilled adobo sauce with a sponge and wringing it out in the sink, the fumes nearly took my breath away. So maybe all you need is a gas mask. Actually, I’m exaggerating so pay no attention.
In case you didn’t know – and if you do you can skip this part – chipotle peppers are really just turbo charged smoked jalapeños. They are left to linger on the stem until they pass the green stage and turn red, which concentrates the heat. Then they are smoked and are often packed in adobo sauce and canned. Adobo sauce is a tomatoey sauce seasoned with a goodly amount of paprika. In this recipe the chipotles simply provide a nice level of heat without scorching your tonsils. You can choose how much you want to add. If you like it mild, use one pepper. If you want it hot, use up to four. I added two peppers myself, but my husband thinks we should go up to three next time. Once they are cooked with all the other yummy ingredients, the heat dissipates a lot. I promise you will feel no pain. But please don’t be tempted to leave them out. The smoky heat provides significant depth of flavor. And they really aren’t any more difficult to handle than green jalapeños.
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 to 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and two tablespoons of the sauce
15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
Juice of one lime
Pickled onions ( we will get to those later)
1. Mix honey, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt and minced chipotles and adobo sauce in the bottom of a slow cooker. Mix well.
2. Add the chicken thighs to the sauce. Although the recipe called for boneless chicken thighs, my instacart shopper brought me skinless bone-in thighs by mistake. Not a problem. The meat is shredded after cooking anyway, and I think cooking bone-in chicken makes a more flavorful result.
3. Now set your slow cooker on low and cook for three to five hours. With my slow cooker, four hours was plenty.
4. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the slow cooker and shred it with two forks. It will taste sweet, spicy, smoky and amazing!
5. Return the chicken to the sauce and add the black beans. Stir well and cook until the beans are warm. Then add the juice of one lime and combine.
6. Make your pickled onions ( if you haven’t already). Thinly slice one red onion and place the slices in a heat proof bowl. Combine 1 ½ cups cider or white vinegar, three tablespoons sugar, and a big pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring the vinegar mixture to a boil and pour over the onions. They will be ready to eat immediately, but letting the onions soak for 15 minutes does no harm and probably a lot of good.
7. Prepare your tortillas. Add the chicken mixture and top with pickled onions. The original recipe recommends that you include sliced avocado in your taco. I’m sure that would be wonderful, but since I have a sensitivity to avocados that makes me violently ill, I skipped that step. I garnished my taco with shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro and pickled onion. It was absolutely wonderful!
This slightly sweet and smoky chicken is extremely versatile. While it makes a great taco, it also makes a delicious topping for nachos. I could also imagine it playing a starring role in enchiladas, quesadillas, or taco salad. One reviewer added cheese and stuffed poblano peppers for Chile Relleno. You could even use it to top barbecue sauce on a pizza. Yum! The possibilities are endless. Make it soon and explore!