|Flavorful chicken is cooked in the slow cooker with salsa and lime, then it goes under the broiler with cheese!|
This Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken with Lime and Melted Mozzarella is a new recipe for A Month of Daily Phase One Recipes, and I'm pretty sure this four-ingredient recipe will become a favorite for lots of my readers who like flavorful dishes that use things you usually have in the house. But if anyone is looking at the photo and thinking it doesn't look like a slow cooker dish, let me share how it took Jake and me three attempts to come up with this final version of the dish (which we thought was perfect.)
We started out to make simple chicken baked breasts with salsa and cheese, and the first version tasted okay, but was way too watery. For our second attempt we simmered the salsa to reduce the amount of liquid (a good idea), but the oven-baked chicken seemed overdone by the time the cheese had melted. We might have given up on the idea at that point if I hadn't seen an idea in Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two for chicken breasts covered with salsa and cooked in the slow cooker for a short time on high. For our final keeper version the chicken cooks on high in the slow cooker with reduced salsa and a little lime and then the chicken is put in a small casserole dish, covered with mozzarella, and put under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese. This may seem like too much trouble to some people, but it produced perfectly-cooked moist chicken with spicy salsa flavor and gooey melted cheese!
Simmer two cups salsa on low until it is reduced to one cup. (We used Pace Picante Sauce, medium heat, but I'd use mild salsa if you're making this for kids.)
Trim four boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut each one in half lengthwise. (I save the trimmings to make homemade chicken stock.)
Spray the slow cooker with non-stick spray and arrange chicken in a single layer. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Cook for 60-90 minutes on high, or until the chicken is cooked through. (Cooking time doesn't have to be exact for this, but I wouldn't go much more than 2 hours or the chicken will start to shred apart. If your slow cooker is on the hot side, it might be done in one hour.
Spray a small casserole dish with non-stick spray, then use a slotted turner to lift the chicken pieces out and arrange in one layer in the dish.
Then use a slotted spoon to scoop out the thicker parts of the salsa and dish it over the chicken, leaving the more watery salsa in the slow cooker.
Scoop out enough salsa from the slow cooker that the chicken pieces are well-covered with the thickened salsa.
Broil until the cheese is all melted and starting to lightly brown (probably under 5 minutes for most broilers.) Serve hot, with low-fat sour cream if desired.
(Makes 4-5 servings; recipe created by Kalyn and Jake with some inspiration from Salsa Chicken in Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two.)
2 cups mild or medium salsa, simmered to reduce to 1 cup
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
salt and fresh ground black pepper, for seasoning chicken
2 T fresh-squeezed lime juice (or less if you're not that into lime)
1 C grated low-fat Mozzarella
I used a Crock-Pot 3-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker. You need a slow cooker that's big enough to put the chicken in a single layer. I used a 9"x7" glass casserole dish; any size close to that would work.
Put 2 cups of salsa into a small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat until enough liquid has evaporated that the salsa has reduced to 1 cup. (We used medium-heat salsa which was pretty spicy after being reduced; if cooking for kids I would use mild salsa and let adults add hot sauce at the table if they want more heat.)
Trim all visible fat and undesirable parts from the chicken breasts and cut each one in half lengthwise. Put the chicken in a single layer in a slow cooker that you've sprayed with non-stick spray; then season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
When the salsa has reduced to 1 cup, stir in the lime juice and pour the mixture over the chicken. Cook on high for 60-90 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. (Depending on how hot your slow cooker gets, cooking time may be a little more or less, but don't cook too long or the chicken will start to shred apart.)
When the chicken is cooked through, preheat the broiler and spray a small glass casserole dish with non-stick spray. Use a slotted turner to lift out chicken pieces with whatever salsa clings to the chicken and arrange in a single layer in the casserole dish. Then use a slotted spoon to scoop out the chunkier parts of the salsa and spoon it over the chicken. (Just use enough so the chicken is well-covered with chunky salsa; leave the more watery salsa in the slow cooker.)
Sprinkle 1 cup grated low-fat Mozzarella over the chicken and put the dish under the broiler until the cheese is melted and starting to lightly brown. (This will be about 5 minutes with most broilers, but watch it carefully!) Serve hot, with a little low-fat sour cream to add at the table if desired.
This will keep for a day or two in the fridge. For best results when reheating, put it in a small glass dish covered with foil and reheat in a toaster oven. (If you must reheat it in the microwave, use lower heat so the chicken doesn't dry out.)
South Beach Suggestions:
As long as you use low-fat mozzarella and salsa without added sugar, this recipe would be a great main-dish choice for any phase of the South Beach Diet.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.
More Phase One Ideas with Chicken:
West African Chicken and Peanut Stew with Chiles, Ginger, and Green Onions
Chicken Adobo - Chicken Cooked in Soy Sauce and Vinegar
Janet's Mustard Chicken
Grilled Lemon-Cumin Chicken with Charmoula Sauce
Chicken Breasts with Cilantro and Red Thai Curry and Peanut Sauce
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