I’m just going to warn everyone here up front that the pictures on this post aren’t the most appetizing, but the dish itself is pretty darn good. So if you’re looking for pretty photography of the recipe in question, please click the link to the original publisher of the recipe at the bottom of this post.
So, remember last week when I said that our party was both Cinco de Mayo and Derby themed? This is the Mexican-ish portion of the food that I contributed. My original email to the group had said I would make fajitas, but then I found this recipe for the shredded chicken, and all thoughts of bell peppers and onion went out the window. In fact, everything else in this recipe that was suggested for toppings were things that I liked a lot, and I figured would be of a completely different flavor profile to the things that my friends were bringing.
I mean, guacamole and sliced avocado aren’t that different, but radishes are. Shredded cabbage is different than the lettuce I might have chosen (and I even chose red cabbage because I like how pretty it looks and the additional color it brings to the meal). And while it took me playing “spot the item you want” in the cheese case, the addition of the crumbly delicious cotija cheese instead of merely subbing in feta or whatnot was fun too.
And that’s just the toppings – the spice mix here is spot on, and while it surprised me to add it, the use of pineapple juice as main liquid for the chicken to cook in makes a lot of sense. It’s just a really tasty, easy meal that continues to make me wonder why I don’t use my slow cooker more. And the good news is that while things like the cilantro and avocado may not last very long, even a simple taco of reheated meat and cheese in a little tortilla is pretty darn tasty.
Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Taco Meat
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled fine between your hands
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice (can sub a scant pinch of ground cloves)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional, add more or less depending on how much heat you want)
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (do not remove excess fat)
6 ounces (3/4 cup) pineapple juice
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Finely shredded cabbage
Thinly sliced radishes
Cotija cheese [this is my addition, because tacos need cheese!]
Mix spices in a bowl to create the rub. Dredge the chicken thighs in the rub (coating evenly), and place in a slow cooker. Pour pineapple juice over chicken, and then add tomato paste to the juice.
Cover and cook in the slow cooker for 3 hours on high setting or 6 hours on low.
When chicken is done, use two forks to shred the meat. If the shredded chicken is a bit liquid-y, don’t worry. The chicken will absorb back more of the liquid as it sits, especially if you make ahead and chill.
Serve with warm tortillas, and add garnishes listed above to taste, squeezing a lime over top for flavor.