When I was a child my mom would make chicken and cheese enchiladas on the weekends. Eating them was a treat we all looked forward to, especially on summer days when we could eat at the picnic table in our backyard. Warm enchiladas, fluffy Mexican rice, maybe a salad on the side – add a cool breeze and it doesn’t get much better than that.
My parents visited last week and after we saw them to the airport I started thinking about those childhood days in Southern California. Maybe that’s what brought enchiladas to mind and made me want to make them for the munchkin? Of course, the challenge with enchiladas is that they can be time consuming. Unless you make them in your slow cooker. :)
If you ask me, the key to making convenient enchiladas is making your sauce in advance. Yes, you could use canned enchilada sauce or even jars of salsa (shudder) but why would you do that when the real stuff is so easy to make? Though I’ve only made these particular enchiladas twice I’ve been making the sauce for years, and trust me, it’s well worth the extra 20-30 minutes of effort. I like to make a big batch, then freeze whatever I don’t use. It’ll keep for up to 3 months in the freezer and then you can have homemade sauce in the time it takes to open a tupperware. Score!
These enchiladas are filled with black beans, corn, spinach and cheese. I use frozen spinach and corn because in the time in takes for them to heat up in the microwave I can lightly fry the corn tortillas and set them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. (Frying helps the tortillas hold their shape when they are rolled.) Once the veggies are done I mix the rest of the filling in a large bowl, ladle half of my enchilada sauce in the slow cooker, then start assembling the enchiladas. By pressing each enchilada snuggly against the one before it I can fit 10 enchiladas across the bottom and two on each side. But if you have a smaller slow cooker there is no reason you can’t make two layers of enchiladas, one on top of the other.
The cooking time for these enchiladas is 2 1/2 hours on high or 4 1/2 to 5 hours on low, so depending on your schedule it might be easier to assemble the enchiladas in a regular baking pan the night before and then cook them in the oven as soon as you get home (instructions below). These also reheat really well so another option is to make them on the weekend and then reheat them for dinner during the week. But for me, as a work-at-home mom, this timing works out perfectly. I can start the enchiladas during the munchkin’s nap and then forget about dinner until it’s ready to eat. The only thing that beats the convenience of that is how much my guys love devouring these enchiladas. :)
Slow Cooker Black Bean, Corn & Spinach Enchiladas with Homemade Sauce (My Recipe)
For the Sauce
Ingredients: Makes enough sauce for 1 batch of enchiladas
- 1/2 chipotle chili, diced + 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (if not serving to toddlers, 1 chili and 2 tsp adobo sauce)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium vidalia onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 cup sherry
- 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until the onion is soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, brown sugar, cumin, and oregano and cook 1 minute more. Add the sherry, chipotle chili, adobo sauce, tomatoes and vegetable broth. Bring to a slow boil then simmer for about 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened to stew consistency. Puree with an immersion blender and set aside to cool.
This sauce can be made in advance and stored up to 3 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer. Store sauce in an airtight container and defrost before using if stored in the freezer. I often double the recipe above and freeze half of the resulting sauce for later use.
For the Enchiladas
Ingredients: Serves 6
- 1 batch of homemade enchilada sauce, see above
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 10-oz package frozen spinach, heated, drained and roughly chopped
- 1 12-oz package of frozen corn kernels (I use the Green Giant Steamers)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/3 cup shredded double cheddar cheese
In a large frying pan heat the 1/2 cup olive oil over medium high heat. It’s ready for frying when a small bit of tortilla sizzles immediately when added to the pan. Fry each corn tortilla for about 5-8 seconds per side, turning with tongs. Place the fried tortillas on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
In a medium bowl combine the black beans, spinach, corn, cumin, salt and black pepper. Mix to combine well.
Spoon half of your enchilada sauce on the bottom of your slow cooker. Divide the filling among the 12 tortillas, spooning about 2-3 tablespoons worth of the bean mixture down the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle with about 1-2 tablespoons of Monterey Jack cheese, then roll up and place in your slow cooker, seam-side down.
Use the same method for the remaining tortillas, pressing each filled and rolled tortilla snuggly up against the others when placing them in your slow cooker. I can usually get 10 filled tortillas across and two filled tortillas in the empty space on either side of my row. If your slow cooker is smaller than mine and this isn’t possible, you can always do a second row of filled tortillas on top of the first. Just spoon a few tablespoons of sauce between the layers.
When all of the tortillas have been placed in the slow cooker ladle the rest of the enchilada sauce on top of them and sprinkle with the double cheddar cheese. Cook for 2 1/2 hours on high or 4 1/2 – 5 hours on low.
(Note: If you would like to make these enchiladas in the oven you can do so by assembling them into a large baking dish, covering with aluminum foil and baking them for 25 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees F.)