I can’t believe the summer is already almost over!
Sorry, I shouldn’t have spilled my cliché juice all over you, but I just had to say it. Because I really can’t believe it!
I mean, who authorized both weekends and summertime days getting shorter and going by so quickly?!?
It wasn’t me…
This unfortunate, unfortunate hiccup in the space-time continuum has had one positive effect in my casa: it has brought me around on busting out my slow cooker before reaching any months that start with the letter ‘o’.
I really always have thought of my crock as a tool relegated to autumn and winter. You know, mulled cider, winter enchiladas, what have you.
But seeing as how summer time is at such a premium these days, I decided to start making a few summer dinners in the slow cooker so that I can enjoy every single summery moment as much as possible.
And now I can’t stop!
I have bested the space-time continuum and all holes and tears therein!
All with the help of my crockpot!
Take that, Einstein! I bet you never used your crockpot for anything!
Speaking of Einstein, this particular recipe is especially brilliant if I do say so myself; it’s got something for everyone in the family, from the sweet pop lover to the spicy chile lover. And then there’s you, saving all that extra time and looking all Einsteinian…
(Wait for it… she wouldn’t! Will she?!?)
Sorry! No, I’m not! I will pun and cliché until the cows come home! And you can’t make me stop!
Seriously, do yourself and your summertime schedule a solid and dust off your slow cooker. Crack open a couple of cans of Dr. Pepper, throw in some chicken, and watch the magic happen.
Actually, don’t watch it: let it do its thing all on its own while you go and wring the fun juice out of one more summer day.
Now that’s magic.
Dr. Pepper Slow Cooker Chicken Tostadas + Quick Pickled Red Onions
For the chicken:
2- 12 oz. cans of Dr. Pepper
3/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1- 6 oz. can tomato paste
5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
6 cloves garlic
dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt for roasting
4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in purée
black pepper to taste
6-8 tostada shells
crumbled queso fresco for serving (optional)
crema for serving (optional)
For the onions:
1 large red onion
1 c. white vinegar
1 c. water
1 tbsp. coriander seeds
1 tbsp. fennel seeds
1 tbsp. white sugar, granulated
Special Equipment: You will need a slow cooker to prepare the chicken for this recipe. I also recommend having two wide-mouth pint capacity canning jars on hand for your onions. While this isn’t a true pickle preparation and these onions should still be refrigerated after you prepare them, they will keep best and retain the most flavor if they are stored in glass jars.
To prepare the chicken, whisk the Dr. Pepper, vinegar and tomato paste together in the bowl of a large crock pot. Add the chicken, cover, and cook on high until chicken is cooked through, approximately 2-3 hours. Once cooked and cooled to the touch, remove chicken, discarding cooking liquid, and shred with a fork. Set aside.
Meanwhile, to prepare the sauce, preheat the oven to 350°. Toss the garlic with the oil and salt, wrap tightly in foil, and roast until shriveled, golden, and extremely fragrant, approximately 30-45 minutes. Remove to the bowl of a food processor along with chipotle chiles and process to a paste. Place paste into a large, heavy-bottomed pot and add crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, season to taste with black pepper, and cook to marry flavors and reduce slightly, just 10-15 minutes. Stir in chicken and remove from heat.
To prepare the onions, peel and remove ends. Halve, quarter, and thinly slice onion (you can really chop your onion in any way you choose, as long as the finished pieces will fit into your pickling jars or other storage vessel. Fill each of your jars with the prepared onion pieces and set aside. Place the remaining ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot and bring to a boil. Boil until sugar has dissolved, approximately 2 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully ladle hot pickling solution over the onion, leaving approximately 1” of headspace in each jar and distributing the seeds as evenly as possible between the two containers. Set aside to cool before sealing and storing in the refrigerator.
To assemble the tostadas, top each shell generously with chicken and then finish with several pieces of pickled onions. Serve, optionally, with crumbled queso fresco and/or crema.
YIELD: approximately 6-8 servings