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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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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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?

CHILAQUILES VERDES

Chilaquiles are a staple in my house – great for any meal: breakfast, lunch or dinner. When making them for breakfast, I serve an egg (fried or scrambled) on top; for lunch and dinner I usually add shredded chicken, but that can be left out if you’re serving it to a vegetarian. Whenever I go to a potluck dinner or any kind of event where I have to bring a dish, this is my tried and true recipe that always disappears quickly once served and the guests always end up calling me for the recipe the day after. And, ahem… chilaquiles are also known as the quintessential Mexican cure for a hangover.

This past weekend I made my famous chilaquiles verdes for my Salsa Showdown cooking show at the Kenmore Live Studio and they were a huge hit. The video of the show will be available soon, but I’ve already gotten dozens of requests to post the recipe! A lot of people from the audience came up to me after the show to say that they were impressed with not only the taste of the dish, but also how simple it was to prepare and that they felt confident they could make it at home. That’s always my goal here ­– to teach you recipes and break them down so you feel comfortable making them on your own. I hope you’ll try my chilaquiles, and if you do, please leave a comment below to let me know how you liked them!

One of the great things about the salsa verde for my chilaquiles is that it’s a very versatile salsa that can also be used for enchiladas as well as a few other dishes. Be sure to check back later this week for my recipe for enchiladas verdes…. 

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SOPA DE TORTILLA

I love tortilla soup. I will order it just about anywhere, at any time of year, and I’ve been known to judge the entire menu of a restaurant solely on the quality of their sopa de tortilla. I’m obsessed in every sense of the word–and having not been able to find a version I deem delicious in Chicago, I learned how to make it.

This soup is very representative of a typical Mexican kitchen and uses the traditional flavors and textures of the tomato, chile, avocado, epazote and tortilla. I’ve never cared much for tomato-based soups or broths, but this soup converted me.

The secret, I’ve found, is adding a few crunchy little pieces of chicharrón (also known as pork rinds or cracklings here in the U.S.). They add a depth to the soup’s flavor that I’m convinced cannot be achieved otherwise. All of my favorite places in Mexico for tortilla soup serve it similarly; all the ingredients for assembling the soup are brought to the table separately and the waiter puts it together right in front of you, almost like a little show with your meal…. 

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