This is the best kind of slow cooker recipe: It takes less than five minutes to pull together and rewards you with a delicious, healthy dinner at the end of the day.
These burrito bowls are full of spicy brown rice, black beans, corn and tender bites of shredded chicken. Everything gets cooked right in the pot, so all you need to do is dish yourself a bowl and sprinkle with cheese.
I usually do this recipe in two stages. First, I get the chicken going with some broth and diced tomatoes, and then I add the rice, beans and corn midway through cooking. This ensures that everything finishes at the same time and the beans don’t get too mushy. If I won’t be home to add the rice, I leave it out of the slow cooker and cook it separately on the stove just before serving. It dirties one more pot, but it gives me some flexibility with my schedule.
The first few times you make this, pay special attention to the rice. I like brown rice because it holds it shape better over longer cooking, but it can be hard to judge exactly when it will be done. I use a basic grocery-store brand of rice, and in a slow cooker, it typically takes 3 1/2 hours on low. Whichever brand or variety you use, I recommend checking after about 2 1/2 hours to see how quickly it’s cooking and if it needs more liquid.
Speaking of liquid, you’ll get some from the canned tomatoes, so you won’t need to add as much broth as you normally would if you were cooking the rice by itself. Even so, use your best judgment if you think more or less liquid is needed.
I use a 3-quart slow cooker for this recipe. It’s just big enough to hold everything and give the rice plenty of room to expand as it cooks. If you have a larger slow cooker, double the recipe and freeze half for other meals.
One of the best things about this recipe is the way the flavors and ingredients mingle during cooking. The chicken cooks in a tomato-rich, cumin-spiked broth, which gets absorbed by the rice later on. Every bite ends up deeply seasoned and fragrant with spices.
Eat it in a bowl with slices of avocado and a dollop of sour cream, or roll it up in a burrito for lunch. This simple meal has earned its spot in my regular line-up.
Emma Christensen is recipe editor of TheKitchn.com, a website for food and home cooking.