I can only remember two occasions in my life when what I attempted to make for dinner came out so terribly I had to throw it away.
This happened most recently just a few months ago. I was attempting a Thai chicken and pumpkin red curry. I actually followed someone else’s recipe, too, and don’t recall taking any liberties. My God it was terrible. So spicy, so sour, yuck. I hope the garbage disposal liked it more than I did.
The other time I botched dinner beyond repair was about three years ago, while I still had my roomy kitchen overlooking Hartford. I think I did this one sans recipe, on the fly. It was the fall, and I was trying for some kind of Oktoberfesty brats, red cabbage, caramelized onions, and apples braised in beer. First mistake, I think I bought Irish bangers instead of an appropriate German sausage because they were the only things available at the deli counter and I wasn’t wanting to pay for a whole prepackaged pound. Then when I got home and started cooking, instead of using a good dark beer like I should have, I just dumped in a bottle of Laguanitas that was hanging out in the fridge.
It was so gross. I was so sad. I’ll have to retry that creation next October, hopefully with a more promising outcome.
Because the makings of a great recipe were there. Mostly because in my opinion, any dish made with beer is usually a good one. Beer is a lot like wine when used properly in cooking, in that it makes everything taste better. Just ask The Beeroness. (<–that’s one bad bitch who’s made a hell of a career for herself, let me tell you.)
The bottom shelf of my fridge is strewn with a collection of different beers, no two alike. My own little multicultural beer society. This started because I rarely buy six packs, as my lightweight self would never finish one, so I buy mostly singles. Which is also great since I always like to try something new. But if I’m being honest, what typically happens is I’ll be walking through the store and see a pretty bottle and throw it in my cart with hardly a glance at what it is just because it has a colorful label with an exotic animal on it.
Thank goodness my powerlessness to effective packaging hasn’t yet extended to wines, as I’d have a much lighter wallet. I’m looking at you, sparkling rosé with blush pink watercolor roses on the label displayed at Whole Foods right now…
Sometimes I find my fridge-dwelling beer society getting a little overpopulated, in which case I’ll throw a bottle into dinner. Since I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve been using my crockpot more and more often. So much of my free time goes to developing recipes like this one, that I’d rather not have to put too much thought or effort into what I make for dinner each night. Lately I’ve been making a large batch of something on Sunday or Monday, and eating it for the rest of the week. The good news is that it gives me more time on week nights to write these posts, but it also means I’m accumulating a number of really yummy and easy slow cooker and freezer-friendly recipes to share with you! Have you tried this or these yet?
Don’t be confused by the title of this Crockpot Chili Beer Chicken. It’s not chili, but rather tender chicken, onions, and peppers braised with tomatoes, green chilis, and beer. I do add a dash of chili powder and some other spices, but not enough to make it taste like an actual bowl of chili. I promise we’ll do chili some other time, but for today, we’re eating this super delicious and comforting chicken stew best served over rice with a side of bread for sopping up that smokey, beer-y sauce.
I went ahead and browned all the ingredients before throwing them in the crockpot for added flavor, but if you want to skip these steps and just put everything directly in the pot, that’s fine too. I recommend using lager in this recipe, or just something mild. Preferably no IPA or dark beers. I used an errant can of Maui Brewing Co. Bikini Blonde Lager that I carried home in my suitcase from Oahu a few months ago… a decision made less by me and more by all the coconut margaritas I drank on that trip.
It worked just fine for this Crockpot Chili Beer Chicken. Beer, a touch of brown sugar and red peppers for sweetness, some spice and green chilis, this is a saucy, healthy dinner you’ll want to eat all week long too. Top it with sour cream, then grab yourself a fork, pop open a creatively labeled bottle of beer, and kick back to enjoy this effortlessly made meal.
Crockpot Chili Beer Chicken
Yields 6 servings
Mildly spiced chicken, peppers, and onions braised in your slow cooker with tomatoes, chilis, and beer.
- 1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken (I usually use 1 lb. thighs and 1/2 lb. breasts)
- Salt & pepper
- 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 tsp. chili powder, to taste
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 (12oz) bottle of beer, lager recommended
- 1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (4oz) can mild green chilis
- 1 Tbs. brown sugar
- 4 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 Tbs. of olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Sear the chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side, without moving it around too much. Use tongs to transfer the chicken pieces to the bowl of your crockpot.
Add the remaining 1 Tbs. of olve oil to the skillet, and toss in the onions and peppers. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the spices and garlic and sauté for a minute longer, then transfer the veggies to the crockpot.
Deglaze the skillet with about 1/2 the bottle of beer, scraping up any brown bits. Pour into the crockpot, along with the rest of the beer, tomatoes, chilis, and brown sugar. Stir to combine.
Place the lid on your crockpot and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours. One half hour before it’s done, spoon a couple of tablespoons of liquid from the crockpot into a small bowl. Whisk in the cornstarch to create a slurry. Pour it back into the crockpot and stir to distribute. Replace the lid and allow the stew to thicken for about 20 minutes.
Turn off the crockpot and allow the chicken to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream and serve with rice, corn bread, or a baguette. This chicken makes great leftovers; store in the fridge for up to 5 days.