Slow Cooker Pasilla Pulled Chicken

Welcome to Slow Cooker Sunday! Plug in and chill out on what’s supposed to be the laziest day of the week.

I almost never eat chicken breast. It’s too dry, or else you have to use really fattening things as accessories for flavor and texture. That became my jumping-off point with this recipe: How can I get a juicy, mouth-watering texture packed with the flavors I like and still keep it healthy? The eight pounds of pork shoulder I cooked for last week’s Slow Cooker Sunday went over well with the family for a couple days, but eventually we hit the pork wall. Pleas for this Sunday’s recipe all had to do with cooking something less fatty.

Pasilla peppers are mild, but they infuse everything they touch with rich chile flavor.

That rich pasilla flavor plays off the sweet and sour of the orange juice and the punchy acidity of the apple cider vinegar.

A single habanero heightens the citrus flavor while merely hinting at spicy. The chicken and pasillas definitely run the show.

Slow Cooker Pasilla Pulled Chicken
Makes 6 servings, plus a bunch of leftovers

4 to 5 pasilla peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips
6 medium garlic cloves, crushed
1 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
3 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 large breasts)
2 large yellow onions, chopped
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Step 1: Turn on your slow cooker to begin warming the pot. Add the pasillas, garlic, and habanero.

Step 2: Arrange half of the chicken breasts over the garlic and chiles. Sprinkle with half of the chopped onion. Place the remaining chicken on top and finish with the rest of the onion.

Step 3: Add the cumin, salt, orange juice, and vinegar.

Step 4: Cook on high for up to four hours (start checking it after 3 hours—when the chicken is soft and shreds easily, it's done). Remove the chicken and set it aside.

Step 5: When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into a large bowl. Return the chicken to the pot and mix well.

Serve the warm pulled chicken on soft corn tortillas to make tacos with avocado and shredded cheese. Enjoy!

Photos and styling by Chris Rochelle