Stovetop/Slow Cooker Chicken Enchiladas

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Summer has been refreshingly mild so far this year. It’s a mercy considering California’s dearth of water. Weather predictions of some serious El Nino storms coming up this winter are spreading in the news. Bring it on! Maybe now’s a really good time to start stocking up on emergency food/supplies, you know, like I’ve been meaning to do before 2015 turns into 2016.

In spite of gladly leaving the windows open more often than usual, I still avoid turning the oven on in warm weather as much as possible. It heats up the apartment so quickly — uncomfortable for us and our wallets. Summer meal planning and budgeting, for that reason, demand more creativity than usual. This recipe is mild, simple, frugal, and requires ingredients that can be used throughout the week for other meals. It is wheat-free and great for lunch the next day. It’s also versatile in that you can put it together several hours before dinner in a slow cooker or have it ready in 30 minutes on the stovetop.

Unfortunately, my Crock Pot radiates heat almost as badly as the oven, so right now I use the stovetop.

enchiladas

Stovetop/Slow Cooker Chicken Enchiladas (serves 4)

plenty of corn tortillas

2 C cooked, shredded chicken (or the meat of half a rotisserie/roast chicken)

4oz regular cream cheese (half a brick)

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 clove garlic, minced

salt and pepper

2 C (at least) green or red enchilada sauce, homemade or store-bought

1 C shredded Colby-Jack cheese

optional: sliced black olives, chopped green onions, and/or fresh chopped cilantro, for topping

Gently warm up your tortillas so they are soft (I do this on the stovetop, but you can use a microwave if you prefer), and cover with a towel to keep warm and soft.

In a stand mixer, dump your chicken, cream cheese, cumin, garlic, and a few good shakes of salt and pepper. Mix it up on low speed until cream cheese is evenly mixed with the chicken. Start warming up your slow cooker or cast iron skillet (medium-low heat for skillet). Grease bottom with some butter or other preferred cooking fat.

Start scooping about 3-4 tablespoons of chicken mixture into each warm tortilla. Spread it in a line from side to side like you’re arranging a taco. Roll up each side of the tortilla to envelop the filling, and, loose ends downward, carefully set it in your warm skillet/pot. Repeat with each tortilla until all the filling is used up, snugly arranging them in a single layer in your skillet or pot.

Pour the sauce evenly over each little enchilada. Don’t be stingy; you want them almost swimming in it. If using the crock pot, dump the shredded cheese evenly over the tops, cover, and let cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5-6 hours. If using the skillet, cover the uncheesed enchiladas first and let cook for about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and remove lid, and then scatter the cheese while the enchiladas are still hot.

When ready to serve, sprinkle the olives, green onions, and/or cilantro on top of everything. Serve with rice (also note my white-girl disclaimer in the link) and homemade soaked beans.

To stretch the protein even further, you could use 1 C of meat and 1 C of black or refried beans, scooped separately into each tortilla. Also, adding chiles, fresh or canned, to the filling adds great flavor. The meal is very rich, so I recommend complementing it with cold/raw/fermented condiments, like cultured cream and pico de gallo. That’s green-sauced enchiladas with extra butter on my rice that you see in the picture.

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