Cooktop Cove: How to make taquitos with a slow cooker
By Johnny Ornelas
Have you ever had one of those taquitos from 7-eleven?  You know the ones, they sit on the rollers next to the hot dogs.  Say what you will about convenience store foods, but I lived off of 7-eleven taquitos for about 2 months shortly after college.  One might have called it my "peak-college" diet.  Believe it or not, those taquitos were the inspiration for the spirit journey that led me to the slow cooker recipe I'm about to share with you.  Don't talk to me about "authenticity."  I'm going for personal taste and convenience, as should any home chef.  After all, this is coming from somebody whose most ethnically relevant understanding of taquitos is that it probably means "little taco."  In fact, apparently in New Mexico, a taquito is just that, and what we're making today is really called a "flauta."  Boom, internet knowledge FTW.
Let's start with what you'll need in advance.
2 raw chicken breasts
5 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup water
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 flour tortillas (taco sized)
"taco seasoning"
STOP!  Okay, here I go.  If you want to, you can go out and buy pre-made "taco seasoning" to save some time, but it's actually ridiculously easy to make your own, and rolling your own seasoning will solve all those "this is too spicy/salty/not spicy enough, not blah enough" complaints that will undoubtedly fill the comments.  Let me give you the gist of a home-brew taco seasoning.
Taco seasoning ingredients:
Chili powder
Ground cumin
Crushed red pepper
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Black pepper
I know what you're thinking, "why are there no quantities?"  Well, thank goodness you have me around.  You basically can use any ratio of these ingredients and your end result will still be a pretty reasonable "taco seasoning."  The default is approximately even amounts of each ingredient, and if you're missing some, no big deal (if you're missing most, then it's probably a big deal... especially if it's the chili powder, salt, and pepper).  Recipe?  You just mix it together.  Worth making from scratch?  Absolutely.  The seasoning is going to be what makes these taquitos your own, or your family's own.  Play with it, make multiple batches, have fun!
Anyway, back to the boring stuff... how to make this.
1. Season the raw chicken breasts as generously as you like with the aforementioned taco seasoning.  (I go heavy on the chili powder and garlic powder, but you can lighten up on the garlic if you think you'll be kissing anybody on the lips shortly after this meal.)
2. Place the chicken breasts in your slow cooker, then the cream cheese and water.  A 2-quart pot would be perfect, but larger is okay.
3. Cook for 6-8 hours on low.
4. Use a fork to shred the chicken in your slow cooker, then add the cheddar cheese.  Stir everything together just a little bit.
5. Okay, here's where you have the choice to go fancy (read: more authentic, crispy exterior) or efficient (read: lazy, soft, hopefully not soggy exterior).  
5 (fancy version). Preheat your oven to 400 deg F (200 C for my metric friends).  Use the filling you've created in your slow cooker and evenly scoop it onto each of your taco tortillas.  Roll them so that they look like taquitos, then bake them for 10 minutes until slightly brown and crispy on the outside.
5 (lazy version). Allow your slow cooker to continue to heat for another 4-5 minutes, or until the cheese becomes melty.  Scoop the filling into your taco tortillas and roll them so that they look like taquitos.  Boom, you're done.
Serve with your favorite salsa (no we're not making our own salsa, are you kidding me?!) or maybe a side of beans (again, just use a can of this, don't be a hero) and dinner is done!
Let me know what you think, and post pics!
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