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Monday, September 13, 2010

Slow Cooker Enchiladas

This is perfect for potlucks or a large family gathering, serving 8 to 10 (or more, at a potluck). It also reheats well so is a good recipe to make for a smaller family, providing lots of leftovers to tuck into the microwave. Remember that a slow cooker can be plugged in outside the kitchen (an attached garage, covered porch, or even a deck if you are around to monitor weather and stray animals!), so this is a good summer dish.

You will need at least a 5 1/2 quart oval slow cooker for this recipe: if you only have a 3 1/2 quart cooker, cut the recipe in half.

A note on the cheese: yes, the use of Velveeta is a more processed product than cheddar or similar cheeses would be, but it stands up best for this kind of slow cooker preparation, with no risk of clumping or separating that could occur with "natural" cheeses.

If you want to avoid processed cheeses, make a cheese sauce by preparing a white sauce and stirring in the cheddar, Monterrey Jack or other cheese just to melt. Use the resulting sauce in place of processed cheese.



Slow Cooker Chicken Enchiladas

15 to 17 corn tortillas, crisped in 350 degree oven
2 c rich seasoned chicken broth
1/3 c flour
1 15 oz can tomatoes and chiles, including liquid (see NOTE)
1 4 oz can diced chiles, including liquid
1 t cumin
1 c finely chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c picante sauce, or to taste
6 to 8 oz American cheese, sliced thin--best to use a "block" cheese, like Velveeta in a one or two pound box, instead of pre-cut cheese slices
1 to 2 c grated mozzarella cheese
extra chicken broth as necessary
3 to 4 c diced cooked chicken

1. Toast the tortillas in single layers in a 350 degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp and just barely beginning to brown on the edges. Turn in the middle of toasting if needed. Remove from oven and set aside two or three of the most crisp tortillas for the topping.
2. Combine the broth and flour, blending well. Cook until thickened. Stir in tomatoes, chiles, onion, garlic, cumin and picante sauce.
3. Spread about a third of the broth and tomato mixture in the bottom of the slow cooker. Cover with a layer of tortillas, breaking up as necessary to cover. spread half the chicken over the tortillas and arrange seven of the cheese slices over the top. Cover with another third of the sauce. Repeat tortilla and chicken layers.
4. Spread about 1 cup of the grated cheese over the top and then cover with the remaining sauce.
5. Break the crisp tortillas that had been set aside into coarse chips and spread evenly over the sauce. Arrange the remaining American cheese slices over the top and sprinkle thickly with grated cheese. Spoon several tablespoons of the reserved chicken broth over the top. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.

If desired, serve with sour cream (or plain yogurt), black olives, shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes on the side--and lots of hot sauce for those looking for even more heat.

NOTE: If you prefer less spicy enchiladas, substituted diced or crushed tomatoes for the tomatoes and chiles. Many brands of the tomatoes and chiles mixture have recently been reduced to 9 1/2 or 10 oz cans, so just using a smaller can will also reduce the heat.

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