This time of year, the Crock Pot and One Pot recipes look more and more appealing. I want as much flavor with as little effort as humanly possible when the holidays approach and the temperature plummets. This time of year, I don’t have the time or the energy to do much that doesn’t revolve around Christmas shopping or working– in fact, I put mascara on this morning for the first time in a while and I’m awfully proud of myself for that five-second investment in looking marginally presentable.
Anyway, because the cold and the calendar are kicking my butt this month, my new crock pot has become one of my dear pals. The great thing about befriending a crock pot this December is that it will make delicious food for you and not expect a present in return. That’s real friendship.
Speaking of friendship, my good friend Allison came down to visit me the other day and try this Crock Pot Kung Pao Chicken, because I told her it would be spicy and we’re both fans of heat. Don’t worry, though, if you don’t too much of a kick to your Kung Pao, you can use a few less peppers and you’ll be AOK.
I keep thinking about the pepper spray burrito commercial now. “I like it spicy, but not like uuuuulgh spicy!” That commercial cracks me up.
Do you have a commercial that makes you laugh no matter how often you see it? My mom has probably seen the Sprint screaming goat commercial 100 times now and she snort-laughs at it every single time. She even laughs about the fact that she knows she will laugh at it. She’s a gem.
You may or may not have noticed that this Crock Pot Kung Pao Chicken has cashews in it, when it’s supposed to have peanuts. I ran out of peanuts. It’s cold. I was not going to the grocery store for a second time in 24 hours. Let’s say I did it on purpose to show that this dish is super versatile.
It really is, though. You can change up the nuts (or use none), and pretty much use any vegetable that you’ve got laying around in your refrigerator. I bet zucchini or broccoli would be great! I just used peppers and onions because I couldn’t remember what kind of vegetables Allie liked, and my motto is “when in doubt, leave it out.”
And while I’m not sure if Allie would have been on board with more veggies, I do know that she was a big fan of this Crock Pot Kung Pao Chicken the way it was. (She ate three bowls, but don’t tell her I told you because she may not be a fan of me sharing this information.) Give it a try, and I know you’ll love it, too!
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons oil
- ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
- ⅓ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar or Chinese black vinegar
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 6-10 dried red chili peppers, split and seeds removed (adjust according to desired heat level)
- 1 orange bell pepper, sliced
- ½ medium white onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Peanuts or cashews, to top
- Green onion, to garnish
- Rice, to serve
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat (or, if you have a multicooker you can just do it right in the crock pot, which is awesome). Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and saute until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken to the crock pot.
- Add in the chicken broth, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and hoisin sauce. Give the pot a light stir. Then, add in the chilis, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and ginger, and stir once more. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours.
- About 30 minutes before you've finished cooking (at the 3 hour and 30 minute mark), combine equal parts water and cornstarch (about 2 tablespoons of each) in a small bowl, whisking together until smooth. Add the slurry to the crock pot and mix well. Continue to cook for another 30 minutes, or until sauce has thickened.
- While you wait for the sauce to thicken, slice your green onions in half, longways. Keep slicing until you have thin strips. Place the green onions in a bowl of ice water and let sit. This will make them curl up. Pictures of this process are also on the Spicy Fried Shrimp post.
- Serve the Crock Pot Kung Pao Chicken over rice with peanuts or cashews on top and the curled green onion to garnish.