Make a slow cooker enchilada casserole, South Texas-style


Instant Pots might be all the rage right now, but slow cookers are still king in many Texas kitchens. South Texas blogger Vianney Rodriguez has compiled a new book called “The Tex-Mex Slow Cooker: 100 Delicious Recipes for Easy Everyday Meals” (Countryman Press, $24.95) to share dozens of her favorite slow cooker dishes as well as companion sauces, cocktails and salads to serve on the side.

We’re talking chilaquiles and elote shrimp dip, dulce de leche chocolate cake and a pecan Old-Fashioned, mole and capirotada. With each recipe, Rodriguez — whose first book was “Latin Twist,” a compilation of more than 100 cocktail recipes — gives a glimpse into her own kitchen.

The book includes recipes for staples such as the shredded chicken and homemade green and red enchilada sauces that go into the enchilada casserole. You could use these individual components to make other tacos, tostadas, pozoles and tortas that are in the book; on the flip side, you could always use store-bought rotisserie chicken or enchilada sauce in the casserole if you are pressed for time, especially on a busy weeknight.

Rodriguez’s slow cooker version of this enchilada casserole takes about four hours, but if you’d rather make it in the oven, bake in a 9-inch-by-13-inch dish at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Enchilada Casserole

Mi mami started making enchilada casseroles as her familia grew and grew and she tired of hand-rolling all those enchiladas individually. I can’t say I blame her — we’re a big crowd. This enchilada casserole can be made with either green or red enchilada sauce, and feel free to swap out the shredded chicken for beef or pork. You can also use shredded rotisserie chicken.

— Vianney Rodriguez

1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying

15 to 20 (6-inch) corn tortillas

2 cups red enchilada or enchilada verde sauce (homemade or store-bought)

4 cups shredded chicken (see recipe)

2 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup diced onion

Warm the vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. In batches, lightly fry each tortilla on both sides for about 1 minute each side; they should still be pliable when done. Transfer each from the pan to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Continue until all the tortillas have been fried, and then remove from the heat. Liberally spray a slow cooker liner with cooking spray. Place 1/4 of the tortillas in a layer on the bottom of the slow cooker and then cover it with 1/4 of the sauce. Add 1/4 of the shredded chicken and sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese and the onions over the chicken. Repeat until all the ingredients have been used. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Serve warm. Serves 6 to 8.

— From “The Tex-Mex Slow Cooker: 100 Delicious Recipes for Easy Everyday Meals” by Vianney Rodriguez (Countryman Press, $24.95)

Shredded Chicken

Shredded chicken is an essential base ingredient for many recipes. This one is an easy way to make it at home in a slow cooker. Use this chicken to make tostadas, tacos, flautas, tortas, enchiladas or pozole.

— Vianney Rodriguez

4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 Roma tomatoes, coarsely sliced

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves

1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and tied together with kitchen twine

Water to cover

Place the chicken in a slow cooker and sprinkle it with the salt and black pepper. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro and cook on low for 6 hours, or until the chicken is tender. Shred the chicken with forks. Use in your choice of recipes or freeze for later use.

— From “The Tex-Mex Slow Cooker: 100 Delicious Recipes for Easy Everyday Meals” by Vianney Rodriguez (Countryman Press, $24.95)

Red Enchilada Sauce

Whenever I visit a new Tex-Mex joint, I always order the cheese enchiladas. I am addicted to dark-hued red enchilada sauce. Instead of the usual chili powder, I opt to use dried chilies when making this rich and savory enchilada sauce. I also use tomatoes, which is not traditional, but when I was growing up, my mami grew the very best tomatoes — so it was only natural that they would find their way into my enchilada sauce. Note that the enchilada sauce becomes thicker as it cools; use water or chicken broth to thin it to the desired consistency.

— Vianney Rodriguez

6 ancho chilies

5 pasilla chilies

1 onion, sliced in half

3 tomatoes

4 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon olive oil

Toast the ancho and pasilla chilies on a heated comal or dry skillet for 10 to 15 seconds on each side. The chilies will puff up slightly and become toasted and pliable. Remove the chilies and set them aside to cool.

Return the same comal or skillet to the heat and sear the onion, tomatoes and garlic for about 5 to 8 minutes, turning frequently, until the tomatoes’ skins are lightly charred.

Remove and discard the chilies’ stems and seeds. Combine toasted chilies, onion, tomatoes, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, oregano and cumin in a slow cooker and cover the ingredients with water. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Carefully blend the cooked sauce with an immersion blender or in batches using a blender until smooth. Add additional water if necessary, 1/2 cup at a time, to help blend. Strain.

Once the sauce is strained, warm the oil in a heated Dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the sauce and quickly fry for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and season with salt and black pepper to taste, if desired.

Use immediately to make enchiladas, or set aside to cool. This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and in the freezer for up to 1 month. Makes 6 cups.

— From “The Tex-Mex Slow Cooker: 100 Delicious Recipes for Easy Everyday Meals” by Vianney Rodriguez (Countryman Press, $24.95)

Enchilada Verde Sauce

I’m addicted to tomatillos and found myself buying loads of canned enchilada verde sauce at the supermarket. Then it hit me — why not make a big batch at home, where I can control the ingredients? Once it’s made, I use some for dinner and then store the rest for future use. It freezes beautifully, so you’ll always have homemade enchilada sauce on hand.

— Vianney Rodriguez

4 pounds tomatillos, husked, rinsed and sliced

4 cups chicken broth, plus more if needed

2 large onions, sliced

5 garlic cloves

1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Combine tomatillos, 4 cups chicken broth, onions, garlic, cilantro, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons black pepper and the cumin in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Carefully blend the cooked enchilada sauce with an immersion blender or in batches using a blender until smooth; add more chicken broth (1/2 cup at a time) if needed. Stir in the lime juice and season with salt and black pepper to taste, if desired.

Use immediately to make a casserole or set aside to cool to room temperature. This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and in the freezer for up to 1 month. Makes 6 to 7 cups.

— From “The Tex-Mex Slow Cooker: 100 Delicious Recipes for Easy Everyday Meals” by Vianney Rodriguez (Countryman Press, $24.95)



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