Friday, December 20, 2013

Red Chicken Enchiladas

Mexican/Tex-Mex food is one of those things I don't usually cook at home. It's great food, but, honestly, I can get really good authentic Mexican/Tex-Mex/Latin cuisine at a ton of places locally, and not have to spend a lot of money. 

Well, that and I actually really love Taco Bell as well. 

Anyway, I decided that I REALLY wanted some enchiladas this week. But, I didn't want to go out, and decided I could just make them at home. Now, I've seen "shortcut" recipes that use canned enchilada sauce and shredded deli rotisserie chicken, but I wanted to see if it was really THAT hard to make enchiladas from scratch. 

Turns out, it's not that hard at all, and you can easily make them ahead of time (see the notes at the bottom of this post). The sauce is made from scratch, and the chicken is essentially poached in the sauce. Even better, aside from buying chicken breasts, which seem to have skyrocketed in price lately, this was actually a really inexpensive meal to prepare - I served it with black beans (with a can of drained Rotel mixed in) and Mexican rice. Perfect!

Red Chicken Enchiladas
adapted from Pink Parsley

1 tsp oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded & minced
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chili powder
3 tsp sugar
2 tsp cumin
2 8oz cans tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
12 6" flour tortillas (fajita size)
Nonstick cooking spray

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, jalapeno and salt; cook, covered for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened.

Uncover and add the garlic, chili powder, sugar and cumin; cook for about 30 seconds.

Add the tomato sauce and broth. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer.

Add the chicken breasts, nestling them into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside to let cool.

Increase the heat to medium and simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Strain the sauce into a bowl and season with salt & pepper to taste. Do not discard the strained onions & peppers - set these aside.

Shred the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and combine in a bowl with the strained onions & peppers. Add 1/4 cup of the strained sauce.

Add 1/2 of the shredded cheeses (1/2 cup of each cheese) and the cilantro. Toss to combine.

Warm the flour tortillas by stacking them on a plate and covering with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power for about 45-60 seconds or just until warm and pliable.

Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in a line down the center of each tortilla. Tightly roll up and place, seam side down, into a greased 13x9" baking dish. Repeat until all of the tortillas have been rolled.

Top with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the sauce.

Cover with foil and bake in a 400° oven for 20 minutes or until heated through. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is browned.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving. 

NOTE: If you want to make this ahead of time, you can. Simply follow the recipe, and let the sauce/onions/chicken cool to room temperature before rolling into enchiladas. Finish assembling the dish, but cover the pan with foil instead of baking. Chill for up to 24 hours, then bake, covered for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes. 

You can also make this in a foil pan and seal well, then freeze for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen for 1 1/2 hours, covered, at 350°, then uncover and bake for another hour.

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