Salsa verde chicken can be made in a crock pot, freeing up time for visiting with family and friends. Credit: Courtesy of Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Chances are very good that when it’s summer in Maine, people are going to have houseguests. Lots of my neighbors and friends are catching up post-coronavirus with children and grandchildren, entertaining long-time friends and cooking big meals.

Now is an excellent time to have a few recipes for meals to cook in a slow cooker or Dutch oven when all you have to do is combine ingredients and walk away for a few hours. After all, it’s more fun to go for a walk or a swim with the young ones than stand around in the kitchen fixing their dinner.

Of course, one strategy I’ve heard about is delegating cooking chores to the visitors; in one household I know, each set of guests takes a turn for meal preparation. No one gets stuck with all the cooking and everyone gets to show off their culinary prowess.

This salsa verde chicken recipe is popular on the web. Many versions call for spreading jarred salsa verde over the bottom of a baking dish, arranging chicken thighs over it and then more salsa verde on top. One recipe I saw calls for layering salsa, tortillas and chicken to make a kind of casserole. Boneless thighs, chicken tenders and chopped chicken breasts all get the same treatment.

You might like making salsa verde from scratch but since it is summer and a shortcut is welcome, jarred salsa verde seems in order.

You can serve the chicken in taco shells, soft tortillas, over tortilla chips or on rice. Some recipes call for sour cream and cheese to be added to the dish either during cooking or at serving time, but it is clearly optional.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can prepare this dish in a Dutch oven on your cooktop, or in a covered dish in the oven.

The following recipe shared with me by my neighbor Cynthia Hanson — favored by her grandchildren — is close to the one by Sarah DiGregoria that was featured in the New York Times. Hanson grandkids favor boneless, skinless chicken breasts. There is no cheese or sour cream in sight.

Feel free to amp up the heat with more jalapenos. Add lime juice to taste. Halve the recipe if you are feeding fewer than eight.

I know that this is supposed to be salsa verde chicken, all green, but what if you don’t have the verde kind of salsa? Yes, regular red salsa works, too.

Salsa Verde Chicken

Yields 8 servings

3½ to 4 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 cups prepared salsa verde

1 7-ounce can chopped green chiles

1 head of garlic, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and chopped

1 tablespoon ground cumin

6 scallions or green onions, thinly sliced

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Salt to taste

Grated Monterey Jack cheese, optional

Cooked rice or tortilla chips.

In a heavy-bottomed cook pot or slow cooker, combine the chicken, salsa, green chiles, garlic, jalapeno and cumin. Bake covered in an oven at 275 degrees or in the slow cooker on the low setting for 5 to 6 hours. Shred the chicken and add the scallions and cilantro. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice or tortilla chips, and garnish with grated cheese if desired.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...