I love many things in the world, but I'm pretty sure guacamole and Mexican food are in the Top 5, if not the Top 2. I've never met an ingredient I did not like in the culinary world of tortillas, peppers, cheese, and spices. Who knows, I might have been Mexican in another life. The irony is that I married a Greek/Hispanic man who prefers Italian food. Go figure.
But when Cinco de Mayo rolled around this past May 5th and I saw this recipe for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Enchiladas in my free Better Homes and Gardens email newsletter (seriously people, it's free... why haven't you signed up?!), I knew it would be a sin not to make them. Of course... I didn't make them ON Cinco de Mayo-- we never eat Mexican food on Mexican holidays. But was it worth turning my apartment into a sauna from hell to make these? Absolutely.
First rule of making Mexican food: ALWAYS have guacamole. And if you don't like avocados, read "guacamole" as "tequila."
Following in my mom's footsteps, I make mine homemade. It's just so easy that there's no point in wasting money on the gross is-this-actually-booger-sauce? packaged kind. Plus my nearby semi-fancy grocery store, Gelson's Market, actually puts "Ready to Eat" stickers on avocados so I can choose avocados without thinking.
Let's all take a moment to ignore the chipping nail polish on my thumb. So chic.
Back to the enchiladas. Yes, this is a slow cooker recipe, but only in part. That's how you cook the meat. This is still a dish that requires hands-on technique, and by "technique" I mean "you roll up the tortillas." But dammit! After this came out of the oven looking fabulous I was convinced I'm the next Rick Bayless.
In true Jamie-messes-up-every-new-recipe-she-tries Fashion, I forgot the small can of diced green chilies. Or it's lost in my poor excuse for a pantry. Either way, it's too late now! Besides, next time I make this I'm going to substitute real jalapeños.
Also, the recipe calls for a 3 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder. I went to my
ghetto budget grocery store, Von's, only to discover they were literally-- so not exaggerating-- OUT OF PORK. I'm pretty sure that's un-American if not illegal. So I moseyed on over to Gelson's, a very patriotic store that always carries dead pig, only to find they didn't have pork shoulder. Harumph.
Always the resourceful one (I should've been a Girl Scout), I bought a pork butt instead. And boy was that the Best. Idea. Ever. The meat was tender, juicy, unbelievably easy to pull.... **wipes drool from mouth** I'm all about generosity (don't laugh!), but these are so good that you probably shouldn't share.
A hot mess of deliciousness.
Just be aware: the recipe tells you to trim the fat on the pork shoulder. If you're familiar with butts of the pork variety, you'll note that trimming the fat is laughable, especially if your knives are dull, as in my case. Scraping it off AFTER will do the trick.
Thus, my recipe
is better has a few changes so use mine :) And be sure to read the notes underneath!
Okay, enough talk. Let's get cooking!
Pulled Pork Enchiladas
3 1/2 pound pork butt
2 cups or 1 - 14oz can organic chicken broth (low sodium if possible)
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
1Tbsp ground cumin
1Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1tsp kosher salt
1 - 10oz can RED enchilada sauce
2 - 10oz cans GREEN enchilada sauce
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (or however much you want)
1 - 4oz can diced green chilies OR 2 jalapeños, chopped
10oz cotija cheese, crumbled
12-15, 8in flour tortillas
Grape tomatoes, halved
In a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker combine pork butt, broth, onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, red pepper, and salt. If you're using the jalapeños, add those as well. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours.
Remove pork from slow cooker, reserving cooking liquid. Scrape off fat and, using two forks, pull meat into coarse strands.
In a large bowl combine pork, 1/2 cup of the RED enchilada sauce, 3 to 4 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid, and the 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro. Set aside.
In a medium bowl combine the remaining enchilada sauces, 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid (discard any remaining cooking liquid), and, if using them, the diced green chile peppers. Spread about 1 cup of sauce mixture in the bottom of a 3-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside.
Preheat over to 400 degrees F. Divide pork mixture and 2 cups of the cheese among tortillas, placing meat and cheese near the edge of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas. Place filled tortillas, seam sides down, in the prepared baking dish (place tortillas close together); top with most of** the remaining sauce. Cover with foil; bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 5 minutes more or until heated through and cheese is softened and starts to brown slightly.
Garnish with tomatoes, cilantro, guacamole, and/or sour cream.
Hodge Podge Tips
- I know the BHG recipe says 1 type of enchilada sauce, but I happened to have one can of red and two of green. It was such a flavorful combo and the green cuts the acidity of the red so well that it's now the permanent way I'll make these.
- To cut down on sodium, use fresh jalapeños instead of canned chilies and make homemade enchilada sauce.
- BHG says 8-12 tortillas, but I still had plenty of meat, cheese, and sauce leftover to fill another 3-5. However, I'm not sure they would've fit in my baking dish anyway, so I added more sauce** to the meat and popped it in the fridge to be used for nachos at a later date.
- I used up all the cheese on the top, fyi, because I didn't want stinky leftover cheese in my fridge.
- Cotija is like the Mexican version of Feta cheese-- strong and slightly stinky. Be warned. If it's too strong for you, try Manchego instead.
- Yes, BHG says you only need a 1/2 cup of sauce on the bottom-- they are LIARS! The sauce was completely absorbed by the tortillas, causing them to get crispy and stick to the pan. Use at least one cup.
- I believe true enchiladas use corn tortillas. The flour ones are easier to roll but if you love corn, go for it!
- When you're done rolling each enchilada there will be a lot of space on both ends where you can stuff more meat-- do it.
- Also, I strained my cooking liquid. I didn't want soggy onions in it, plus there were extra pieces of pork that fell off and sank to the bottom so I had to retrieve those.