Wednesday, March 11, 2015

chicken enchiladas

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Sometimes when you lose interest in something or just can't seem to prioritize time for it, you need to step away and revisit it in half a decade or so. Which seems to be what I've done with my blog.

The thing is, I've actually been using my blog this whole time -- to refer to my favorite recipes and remember the necessary modifications. (Hooray -- that's why I started the blog in the first place.) But recently it has been nagging at me that I've made several awesome dishes in the last five years, but none of them appear here. And every time I want to remake one, I have to find the right cookbook or website and hope I recall any changes I made to the recipe.

That's silly. So here's a new post -- one I expect to be referring back to many times because these enchiladas are awesome.

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Other than homemade guacamole, Mexican food is not generally my thing. The flavors are great. It just tends to be a bit too cheese heavy for my lactose-intolerant self, and the abundance of cilantro doesn't thrill me either. But lately I've been trying to step out of my comfort zone with homemade dinner fare. These enchiladas, with homemade red sauce, were an easy win. Which is probably the kind of thing I need right now.

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To make the day-of prep easy (and ensure that I had enough time to make guacamole), I made the red sauce and grated my cheese the night before. The red sauce requires zero chopping or roasting. Just dump things into the pot in order and whisk out the lumps. Play a game on your phone while it's simmering. Easy.

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If you want to take another shortcut, you can buy precooked chicken breasts. Just heat them up (I sauteed grilled strips) and tear them apart with two fork to shred. If you go this route, be careful about adding salt while cooking since the precooked chicken is usually already seasoned. I didn't add any salt to my onion and green chili mixture since the chicken and red sauce already had plenty.

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I made some changes from the original recipe -- like using a double batch of red sauce and a few more black beans. Those changes are included below. (Note: This dish is flavorful, but not spicy. Add hot sauce to taste.)

Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from Gimmie Some Oven
Makes 8-10

2 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 small white onion, peeled and diced
1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into small 1/2-inch pieces *
salt and pepper
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
8-10 flour tortillas (I used soft taco size)
3 cups Mexican-blend shredded cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Red Sauce
4 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
4 Tablespoons flour
8 Tablespoons chili powder (not cayenne!)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

To Make the Red Sauce:
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir together over the heat for one minute. Stir in the remaining seasonings (chili powder through oregano). Then gradually add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thick.

If not using immediately, refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to two weeks or freeze.

To Make the Enchiladas:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a large baking dish. (I used a 13x9" dish and an 8x8" dish.)

In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add diced chicken and green chiles, and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the chicken is cooked through and the onion has softened. Remove from heat and set aside.

To assemble the enchiladas, spread 2-3 tablespoons of red sauce over the surface of a tortilla. Add beans in a line down the middle of the tortilla, then add in a spoonful of the chicken mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Roll up tortilla and place in baking dish. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Once your baking dish is full, spread the remaining enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas and sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately, garnished with chopped fresh cilantro if desired. **

* See narrative above about substituting precooked chicken breasts.

 ** If you're not a huge cilantro fan and want to mellow it out a bit, sprinkle it on top of the dish before baking.

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