Chile chicken tacos in the slow-cooker

I’ve been working late into the evening recently so I decided to break out my slow cooker and put it to work for me! On top of the late nights, the brutal heat wave we’ve been having over the last few weeks has made me less than happy about spending time in the kitchen after a long day, especially if it involves heating up the oven or even the stove top for more than a few minutes because I don’t want to be any hotter.

This recipe for chicken tacos is great for a few reasons: it’s super easy to make, it takes very little effort to prepare and it can be used as a filling for three different dishes so if you make a little extra you can turn it into more than one meal.

It can be used just as a regular old taco filling, rolled and fried in a tortilla to make taquitos or even rolled and bathed in salsa and topped with cheese as enchiladas. The biggest bonus of all: It won’t heat up the kitchen…. 

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Mexican Chimichurri Marinated Flank Steak

Who doesn’t love to grill? With the 4th of July coming up, I know that we’re going to be out on the patio all weekend to enjoy the sunshine while sipping on some limonada with friends, grilling up some cebollitas and this tangy new recipe I came up with for the #MizkanLatino cooking challenge.

José, Mr. Picky-Picky when it comes to me experimenting with new ingredients, said this dish both smelled and tasted fantastic! With his stamp of approval, you know it has to be good. A note about the use of jalapeños in this recipe: you can absolutely leave the seeds and veins in the jalapeño if you want to give your chimichurri a little kick. I removed them in the video so that the chimichurri wouldn’t be spicy, but would still have all the flavor of a jalapeño so that I could serve it to guests who were a little apprehensive about eating spicy food.

I used flank steak here (also known as falda de res) but you can substitute with another cut such as skirt steak (arrachera) if you like.

Be sure to check out the linky below throughout the week to see more videos and recipes from others participating in this challenge with me. You can also find out more about Holland House products on the Mizkan website.

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Happy National Paella Day! {RECIPE}

Yesterday was National Paella Day, so in honor of this fantastic holiday, I’m going to share a recipe! (OK, so it’s probably a made-up holiday, but what better excuse to share a paella recipe and give away a paella cookbook?) Our family has roots in Spain, and we love paella! My suegra actually has a family tree written out on a huge parchment scroll tracing back every generation to before they arrived in Mexico via boat from Spain. It blows my mind that my name is now on that scroll and someday, my children will be on it, too! I’m a big genealogy nerd, so I love digging into our family roots and learning as much as I can, especially when it comes to cuisine!

I recently had the pleasure of taking a paella class with Chef Tim Cottini at Chicago’s Café Ba Ba Reeba, one of our favorite places for Spanish tapas and paella. In fact, José says he thinks they have the best paella in the city, so when I told him I was thinking about taking the class to learn their recipes, he practically forked over our credit card on the spot to reserve my space!

I learned a lot of new tips to make my paella GREAT. I’ve made paella in the past at home (and you may recall we ate it in Cuernavaca last year at a dinner party), but it was never what I’d call awesome. I experimented with different ingredients and portions but it lacked something. I suspect in part because I never had a proper paella pan. I think Chef Tim helped me acquire my paella mojo, though! When I recently made a recipe that I learned in the class at Café Ba Ba Reeba, it had José begging for seconds. He ate the leftovers the following day and said he couldn’t wait until I made it again. … 

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CROCK-POT FRIJOLES DE OLLA

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I love, love, love the little community we’ve grown on our Facebook fan page. A week or two ago, I posted a question asking fans what their favorite Mexican recipes are that they’ve adapted for crock-pot cooking. Overwhelmed with the number of delicious suggestions, I decided to whip up a batch of slow-cooked frijoles as my final tribute to National Slow-Cooking Month. (Thanks to Tortilla fan Annette for giving us the basic cooking instructions she uses.)

The results were tremendous, so I recorded a video recipe to show you just how I did it. As we’re preparing for a blizzard here in Chicago this week, I’m glad to have leftovers of this hearty, warm bean dish that is great as a snack, a side dish, or a main dish…. 

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CROCK-POT COCHINITA PIBIL

When I found out that January was National Slow-Cooking Month, I knew exactly what recipe I was going to adapt first for Crock-Pot cooking. I’ve always wanted to test my theory that cochinita pibil can be done in a slow cooker, so the fact that it was a nationally recognized month-long culinary holiday-of-sorts was the perfect chance to take on the challenge.

And, ahem… Super Bowl Sunday is right around the corner, so if you’re planning a party with some Mexican food, this is an easy and delicious way to treat your guests to something new!

Yes, we’ve posted a recipe here before for cochinita, but let me tell you why this one is different. We’re using a different cut of meat (boneless country-style pork ribs), an easy spice mix made from scratch (no achiote paste in brick-form here, amigos), and as with most slow-cooker recipes, you can set it and forget it, making it relatively hassle-free compared to the traditional method of making cochinita. If you’re making it for guests, you can still serve it wrapped in warm banana leaves to impress them. Just check out our original recipe for cochinita pibil for directions on how to heat the banana leaves so they’re pliable.

And finally, we’re not going to serve our cochinita pibil as a taco like you might expect–we’re going to make a version of panuchos Yucatecos instead. In some places, they put the black beans inside the little tortillas and fry it before adding the meat, salsa and any garnishes on top, but we’re going to use a simpler method using small store-bought tostadas. After all, the point of a slow cooker is to make your life easier by letting you spend less time in the kitchen preparing food, so there’s no need to deal with the mess of stuffing and frying your tortillas. Plus, this recipe is a bit healthier because we’re leaving the frying out. If you can’t find small tostadas or picaditas at your grocery store, you can make your own by either heating corn tortillas in the oven until they’re dry and crispy, or you can get the same result by cooking them longer on your comal…. 

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ENCHILADAS VERDES

Last month at my cooking show at the Kenmore Live Studio where I made chilaquiles, I talked about the versatility of salsa verde. I can think of about a dozen uses for this sauce just off the top of my head, so when I make it, I usually make extra so that I can get a few different meals out of it. One of my favorite things to make with salsa verde is enchiladas.

This recipe is so easy to make; great whether you need to feed just a few or a whole family. A few weeks ago, I made these enchiladas for my suegro and he ate three helpings! I laughed and asked him whether they were that good or if he was very hungry and as he was about to take another bite, he said “both!” These are also a favorite of José’s.

If you want to make these vegetarian, you can substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth in the salsa and fill them with cheese instead of chicken.

RECETA:

ENCHILADAS VERDES

FOR SALSA VERDE

  • A little over 1 pound of small tomatillos, husked & thoroughly washed
  • 3-5 serrano chiles (depending how spicy you like it), stems cut off and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 slices of white onion
  • A pinch or two of salt to taste
  • 1-1 ¼ cup chicken broth or water

FOR THE ENCHILADAS

  • 3 cups shredded chicken (2 chicken breasts and some dark meat)
  • 6-7 oz (about ¾ cup) of shredded Chihuahua cheese
  • ½ cup crema Mexicana
  • A dozen corn tortillas
  • Some canola oil for frying the tortillas

To make the salsa:

First, husk and wash the tomatillos. Rinse them well in cool water.

Fill a pot with water (large enough to fit all the tomatillos) and bring to a boil. Put the tomatillos in and cook in the boiling water until the tomatillo flesh begins to get transparent. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatillos to a blender. Add the onion, garlic and salt. Cut the stems off the serrano chiles and cut each chile into a few pieces so they’re easily chopped in the blender.

Start by adding 2 chiles to the blender with about ¾ of a cup of water or chicken broth and blend on high until smooth and the chiles and tomatillos are completely incorporated. Taste the salsa to see if it’s too hot; if it needs more chile, add them one at a time, blending & tasting the result until you are happy with the level of heat from the chiles. If it seems the salsa is not quite liquid enough, add another ¼ cup of water or chicken broth. The salsa will reduce slightly when cooked.

Pour blender contents into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the salsa boils, occasionally stirring. Remove from heat.

For more on salsa verde, visit my original post on the topic.

You can either make a bone-in chicken breast from scratch or use a store-bought rotisserie chicken if you’re short on time. For bone-in chicken breast and chicken stock, you can just gently boil the chicken on the stove with a pinch or two of salt, a slice of onion and a small spring of cilantro or a few epazote leaves until the meat is cooked through. If you use a rotisserie chicken, buy one that’s low-sodium or barely seasoned. You can pour the juices from the container into a saucepan with a few cups of water and a chicken leg or two.

To make the enchiladas:

Preheat the oven to 350º F (177º C).

Heat a little bit of oil in a frying pan (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan) and lightly fry both sides of the tortilla. Each side will dome up when it’s ready to be turned. Drain on paper towels. Put a bit of the shredded chicken in the center of each tortilla and add a generous pinch of the shredded Chihuahua cheese. Roll them up and place seam-side down in a baking dish.

Spread the crema liberally over the top of the enchiladas and then ladle some salsa over them. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and heat in the oven at 350º for 8-10 minutes to heat through. Then move to the top rack and broil on low until the cheese is completely melted and bubbly, with some brown spots. Remove from the oven. Using a spatula, transfer enchiladas to plates and finish with some extra salsa on top.

Yields 12 enchiladas. There will be some leftover salsa.

  • How do you like your enchiladas?
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