The first Mexican food I ever really cooked was Taco’s at the request of my boyfriend. I think I explained in a previous post that up until this point I never ate mexican food, and cooking it was absolutely not something I was ever interested in. But he asked, gave me one look with his puppy dog eyes and I couldn’t say no.
Thank god he asked, because if he hadn’t, I never would have fallen in love with Mexican. I never would have searched out new recipes on Cook’s Illustrated and I never would have found the most amazing recipe ever for Chicken Enchiladas.
As you’ve probably guessed from this blog, I am not a huge vegetable eater. I have absolutely gotten better at it through the years (I swear I have mom!), but for the most part, (stop reading here mom!) if I can stick to meat and cheese, I will. And what better way to eat meat and cheese, then rolled up into a nice little tortilla package and then dredging it in more cheese. I had never considered eating an enchilada before I found this recipe, and to be honest, at the age of 30, I’m not sure I really knew what an enchilada was. But when I read the recipe, I knew I’d be into it. Meat? Check. Cheese? Check. Spicy red sauce on top? Check.
One thing I love about this recipe is that it’s fairly quick and easy and extremely flavorful. I change a couple things, but nothing to drastic.
Sauce and Filling
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil or corn oil
- 1 medium onion ,chopped fine (about 1 cup)
- 3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4 thighs), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
- 2 cans tomato sauce (8 ounces each)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 can (4 ounces) pickled jalapeños , drained and chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , grated (2 cups)
- Tortillas and Toppings
- 10 corn tortillas (six-inch)
- Vegetable cooking spray
- 3 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (3/4 cup)
- 3/4cup sour cream
- 1 avocado , diced medium
- 5 leaves romaine lettuce washed, dried, and shredded
- 2 limes , quartered
FOR THE SAUCE AND FILLING: Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, salt, and sugar; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until coated with spices, about 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce and 3/4 cup water; stir to separate chicken pieces. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and flavors have melded, about 8 minutes. Pour mixture through medium-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on chicken and onions to extract as much sauce as possible; set sauce aside. Transfer chicken mixture to large plate; freeze for 10 minutes to cool, then combine with cilantro, jalapenos, and cheese in medium bowl and set aside. (A major difference comes in here. I do not use jalapenos. The sauce I use is Goya Tomato Picante Sauce. They have it in my grocery, but you can also order it online.)
Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees.
- TO ASSEMBLE: Fill, roll, and sauce enchiladas. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake enchiladas on lower-middle rack until heated through and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and serve immediately, passing sour cream, avocado, lettuce, and lime wedges separately.
Of course, Enchiladas tend to be a fairly heavy food, so I don’t make them to often (anymore), but they are completely delicious. If you use fresh cilantro, you can really taste it through the other flavors, and the spice is a nice burn on your mouth, but not so overwhelming that you can’t eat. I can make it through about 2 of these before I decide to pack the rest away for another day. They reheat fairly well and go great with mexican rice. Top them off with a little sour cream and you’re ready to go!