Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mexican Comfort Mush

So... this is one of those recipes that I debated sharing.  
It was Wednesday.  I wanted enchiladas, but didn't feel like doing any rolling of tortillas, making of sauce, or scrubbing of baked-on cheese from Pyrex dishes.  I also had an afternoon run planned, so I wanted to be finished preparing dinner during the early-afternoon span of nap time, which meant employing the slow cooker.  I had a pile of delicious ingredients...
I also had a vague idea of how I wanted to prepare this dish.  What did I have in mind?  A lasagna-like interpretation of enchiladas, with layers of corn tortillas, black beans, cilantro, shredded chicken, sweet corn and cheese melded goo-ily together through several hours in the slow cooker with a tasty (yet store-bought) enchilada sauce.  I poached and shredded a pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, then went to work, assembling layer after layer of the above ingredients in my slow cooker.
I then set it to low for five hours, cleaned the kitchen, and went about tackling the rest of my list of things to do.  When I had returned from my run, showered, and we had gotten the little man down to sleep for the night, I set about plating our dinner.
I had expected to dish up something that looked like this...
Photo via
Instead, I served this...
...which is really best described, as the post title suggests, as Mexican Comfort Mush.  The tortillas had basically disintegrated, becoming some sort of unintentional polenta.  The chicken had all but disappeared as well, as it was so tenderized by the slow cooking process.  But the dish smelled fantastic, and it was 7:45 and time to eat something, so I went ahead and served it, already kind of branding it as a failure in my mind before we had even taken a bite.

Here's the thing: it was really delicious.  Comforting, warm, nourishing, and full of protein, this dish totally hit the spot, and we both went back for seconds.  We kept remarking about how good it was, especially with a little dollop of sour cream on top.  It was almost like some sort of really thick, dense, tortilla soup/stew hybrid.  I was happy to eat a dish of this for lunch today, and I'll make it again, although I think that I'll continue to tweak the recipe until I get something that resembles more of a casserole than a mush.  The concept is a keeper, the execution just needs some work.

Despite its imperfections, I thought I'd share the basics of the recipe with you today in the hopes that maybe you can play along as I work on perfecting it. Veggie friends, you can play too, as I think the chicken was somewhat superfluous, and could have been easily subbed out for shredded sweet potato, or perhaps even tofu.  Please let me know if you try preparing this recipe with or without any tweaks, and together we can create slow cooker enchilada casserole nirvana!   Or follow the recipe as it is, and get ready for some mushy goodness that you can perhaps serve to someone who has recently had their braces tightened or their wisdom teeth out, or a toddler slightly less picky than my own!
Here's what I started with:
Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Casserole, Take One
10 small corn tortillas, cut in half
32 oz. red enchilada sauce
1 8 oz. package shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1.5 cups corn kernels
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1) Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Add chicken thighs and simmer until they are cooked through, approximately 10 minutes.  Allow them to cool, then shred by hand, or chop coarsely.
2) Cover the bottom of the slow cooker with enchilada sauce.  Begin creating layers of tortillas, veggies, chicken, cilantro, sauce and cheese, until you've used all of your ingredients.  Make sure that the last layer is covered in cheese.
3) Cook on low for 5 hours.  Serve.


  1. Ok, I, for one, am very glad you posted this unintentional recipe! It reminds me of the time, back in CA, when Clarke and I stopped at Whole Foods for lunch-to-go one day. He helped himself to a bowl of soup... which turned out not to be soup, but enchiladas filling. Oops. But you know what, it was DELICIOUS. I think I ended up going back for some.

    This recipe totally reminds me of this, in concept if not somewhat similarly in taste. Am definitely going to have the hubs whip this up within the week.

    Q: I like my enchiladas super-wicked cheesy. Would you recommend upping the cheese quantity for this, if that's the case?

  2. CC, I heartily endorse the use of as much cheese as your heart desires. Go to town!

  3. I could easily make this with tofu or just stick with the beans. This definitely sounds like comfort food. Love the crock pot this time of year. Thanks for sharing this recipe-and the real picture!

  4. Hey J, I made something similar last year in the oven that was delicious and came out more like a lasagna:

    I omitted the turkey and upped the other stuff to compensate, and it was awesome.

    Though not slow-cooker easy, I think you could assemble this in a casserole dish ahead of time and pop it in the oven for 25 min while the little guy is getting to sleep!

  5. Mex Comfort Mush last night: success!

    Yeah, it was REALLY tasty. The hubs and I kept commenting on how it had the appearance of a chili, so you would expect that flavor, but the end up with a mouthful of enchiladas flavor. Clarke said that he could see making this up as an enchiladas filling, for that matter. The chix was sooo tender, and the uber-softness of the tortillas was pleasantly surprising too.

    I will say that I kept expecting to get a mouthful of cheesy-ness, but never did. I asked Clarke to next time (as it's definitely worth making again) please add more cheese. He looked at me askance and replied, "But I already doubled the amount of cheese that the recipe called for, like you asked!" Ha. So I don't know how globs of cheese escaped me, but if I could get that involved in this recipe somehow, it would be golden.

    Thanks again for posting this! Gracias! ;-)

  6. CC - Glad you guys liked it! What about cutting a block of cheddar into chunks and adding that instead of another bag of shredded cheese for your second 8 ounces? I think that could possibly produce the cheese blobs of your dreams. Try it and let me know!