November 21, 2015
Which is only vaguely Mexican, and about 100 percent rural Southern, but is nevertheless pretty doggoned good.
I had gotten out and run errands all day — post office, bank, several shopping stops. It was coming on 3 p.m., and I didn’t have anything special in mind while I was wandering through the grocery, when I commenced to think about potentially cooking dinner. It was Friday, and I could have technically gotten by without cooking dinner, but I figured it was going to be cold, and I didn’t want to go out, and I really wasn’t in the notion for carryout.
So I was wandering the aisles at Kroger, thinking about what to cook, and I settled on Mexican chicken, which, while it is canonically made in the slow cooker, can certainly be cooked on top of the stove. That was likely inspired by an earlier trip to WalMart, where I’d picked up the one food item I will go to WalMart for — the Great Value black bean and white corn salsa, and I was still thinking in that notion.
There is little that’s much simpler than Mexican chicken. You need:
- A pound of skinless, boneless chicken. You can use breasts or thighs, as you choose.
- A can of whole-kernel corn. I prefer shoe-peg corn, when I can find it, but I couldn’t, so I settled for white sweet corn.
- A can of black beans.
- A can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, your heat preference. I get the mild ones.
- A cup of chicken broth
- Four ounces of cream cheese
- A couple of tablespoons of oil
- Salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder
- Tortilla chips
- Sour cream
- Sliced or chopped black olives
- Grated cheese
- Diced avocado
Cut your chicken up in chunks. You don’t have to do this, but eventually, you’re going to shred it, and I find it shreds better if you have it in chunks to start with. I saute mine in the oil, with the spices, until there’s no pink showing. You can also throw it into the slow cooker whole, and add everything else on top.
Add the RoTel and the corn, Drain and rinse the beans, and add those, as well as the chicken broth. Let that simmer for an hour or so, until the chicken falls apart into shreds when it’s stirred and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Add the cream cheese, turn heat down to low, and let it melt, then stir it into the mixture, which at this point looks a little like something the cat threw up.
You can serve this over rice, but I prefer it over tortilla chips, as if it were nachos. Garnish with whatever floats your boat; I made do with grated cheese, sour cream and avocado, and would have added black olives if I had had any. (I didn’t much think Kalamata would work.) Had I been tremendously ambitious, I would have made Mexican rice to go with it. I wasn’t tremendously ambitious.
The Thanksgiving groceries are bought, including the makings for Eudora Welty’s White Fruitcake, which I think I shall make in small loaf pans to give as Christmas gifts. Oddly, a mixture of candied fruit for fruitcakes — pineapple, cherries, citron — cost eight bucks a pound, while if you bought all the parts separately, they’d cost closer to $15 a pound. Go figger. (And I just realized I should’ve gotten two pounds. Dammit. And I may need some more pecans. Oh, well. It’s a while yet until Thursday.)
In any event, serious cooking will begin soon. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em stay tuned for a traditional Southern Thanksgiving narrative.