Don’t laugh at what I’m about to reveal. I like telling myself, and others, that I’m this great connoisseur, sophisticated urbanite, explorer of different flavours, but I have a little secret that I have to get off my chest. Despite having explored so many different flavours from around the world, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t try Mexican food until I was 19 years old.
The crappy thing is that it wasn’t even good Mexican food!
It’s not that I had a particular dislike for the cuisine, I honestly just never had the opportunity to try it. Growing up in a suburban town in Canada, the only thing we had close to Mexican food was Taco Bell, and I was smart enough at an early age to recognize how disgusting the food from Taco Bell looked. My parents, ever the champion of home-cooked meals, encouraged us to cook and eat at home, so much so that we rarely ate fast food. On the rare occasions that we ordered in take out, it was either pizza or Chinese food. So I just went without ever experiencing Mexican food – never feeling the inclination. It wasn’t until I was in Las Vegas (on an impromptu trip) that I finally got to taste it: a terrible bean burrito from a “charming” little place that had oil dripping from the stained ceiling. But the experience did open my eyes to Mexican cuisine, sparking my curiosity to seek out authentic and delicious Mexican dishes.
Thankfully, in the last 5 or 6 years, there have been more and more authentic and creative Mexican restaurants cropping up all over Toronto. The Grand Electric, La Carnita, and El Catrin, to name a few. In an ideal world, I would dine out at these places every week but I don’t think my wallet can take the strain. So to satisfy my cravings, I decided to make some chicken carnitas stew at home, a perfect way to beat the November cold. After simmering in a flavourful tomato-based broth in the Crock Pot for 8 hours, the chicken breasts become really tender and easily flake off into strands. If you do not have a crock pot, I provided alternative directions for stove-top below.
This recipe is also the easiest thing I have ever made! Just threw everything into the crock pot, set it, went to work, and came home to delicious carnitas!
Optional toppings: avocado, cilantro, sour cream (or greek yogurt), sliced scallions, or tortilla chips
Prep Time | 15 minutes Cook Time | 7-8 hours low/5-6 hours high heat Yield | 6-7 servings
5 cups chicken/vegetable broth
2 uncooked chicken breasts (or 4 cups of cooked, shredded chicken breasts if doing stove-top)
1 can/15 oz black beans
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can of whole kernel corn
1 jalapeno, desseeded and chopped (if you like spicy food, keep the seeds)
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped (depending on taste, I personally like lots of garlic!)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1 packet/30g taco mix
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
On slow cooker:
1. In a slow cooker, combine the broth with tomateos, garlic, jalapeno, bean, corn, and the spices. Add the chicken and set the slow cooker either on low for 7-8 hours (if you’ve got lots of time), or high for 5-6 hours.
2. Cook until the chicken is tender and shreds easily.
On stove top:
1. Combine all the above ingredients into a medium sauce pan.
2. Heat on medium-high heat until boiling. Cover and reduce to low heat; simmer for 25-30 minutes.