I love easy meals on weeknights. Everybody has something going on and if you’ve got kids running around too, you probably don’t have much time to slave over a meal for your family every night of the week. When I know I’ve got busy days ahead, I like to call on my slow cooker to do all the hard work for me so that I can prep ingredients the night before, throw them into the pot in the morning and have a delicious meal by the time I get home.
A lot of people haven’t thought about using a slow cooker beyond stews, soups, party dips or just as a warmer. But there’s been a big resurgence in slow cookers in the last year or so and I’ve noticed a lot of food magazines including more recipes incorporating this easy-to-use small appliance. The sky’s the limit so you can experiment and be creative.
Two of my favorite slow cooker creations include cochinita pibil, an achiote rubbed pork served with a spicy and citrusy salsa of red onions and chile, and frijoles de la olla, homestyle beans dressed up with spices and a little dried chile for a mild flavor.
If you want more ideas for fun recipes you can make with your slow cooker, check out this post on slow-cooking Latin-style on the Tiki Tiki Blog that includes recipes for paella, brisket, ajiaco (a Cuban stew made with root vegetables), black bean soup, tamale pie, carnitas and more. And if you like other ethnic foods, I’d also encourage you to head over to Indian as Apple Pie for Indian food in the slow cooker – they even have a great cookbook you can purchase.
This recipe here is both simple and versatile because you can use it for either chicken soft tacos, fried taquitos or chicken enchiladas. To make enchiladas, you can blend the onions, some of the chile paste after cooking and cooking liquid to make a salsa for pouring over the top. Just add a little cheese and broil until bubbly and brown.
- 6 ancho chiles
- 8 cascabel chiles
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp salt
- 2-3 tbsp soaking liquid from chiles
- 1 cup chicken broth or water
- 1 1/2 white onions, cut in half and then sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 whole chicken or bone-in split chicken breasts
- food processor or blender (I use a Kenmore Elite 14-cup food processor in brushed aluminum)
- slow cooker (I use a Kenmore 7-qt. slow cooker)
Start by soaking your dry chiles in a bowl of hot water for about an hour. Once they’re soft, remove the stems. Place them in your food processor with the garlic cloves, salt, and a few tablespoons of the soaking water that you had the chiles in. Pulse in the food processor until smooth.
Cut the onion in half and then into quarter-inch slices and layer along the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the chicken on top of the onions and spoon the chile paste over the chicken so it’s completely covered or as covered as possible. Carefully add the chicken broth on the side of the chicken, being careful to not wash any of the chile paste off of the chicken. Cover it up and set the slow cooker to low for 8 hours.
When you are ready to take the chicken out, it should fall off the bone, the onions should be soft and transparent and there should be chile-spiced chicken broth in the bottom. Remove the chicken and shred it gently into chunks. Transfer to a bowl and add a few tablespoons of liquid from the bottom of the slow cooker to moisten the chicken. Mix in the onions.
Then you can serve it either as soft tacos with Mexican crema and slices of avocado, roll them up and fry them as taquitos, or use them as filling for enchiladas.
Serves 4-6 depending on portion size.