Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

There's been a whole lotta America's Test Kitchen recipes in our household lately.  Do you ever go through phases with your recipe inspiration? 

My sister alerted me to this recipe years ago. I don't cook much Mexican food, so when I realized there was a recipe that I could actually use to create some delicious enchiladas at home all by lonesome, I pretty much lost all my senses. I gave the recipe to a friend, saying it was so "easy". She kinda gave me a dirty look after she had used it and mumbled that it wasn't so easy. That's what I call LAZY.

Okay, so it's not as easy as wrapping a tortilla around a package of taco seasoning, but in the universal scheme of things it's kind of genius and straightforward, and seriously good. You essentially make the enchilada sauce, poach the chicken in it, then separate the two by straining so the chicken part becomes the filling and the sauce part becomes...the sauce. And if you want, you can make the sauce and filling on one day, and save the assembly/baking for the next day. I mean, what could be easier than a 2-day recipe, I ask you? Note sarcasm.

I am clearly conflicted by this recipe. But not by the results, which are straight up good.

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs chili
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
12 to 16 oz boneless chicken thighs, cut into ¼” strips
2 cans 8 oz Hunt’s tomato sauce (this is what you're supposed to use--I, on the other hand, read this as 2 cans of 14.5-oz tomato sauce and had to siphon off about 1 1/2 cups that I saved and later used in a chili recipe. Point being that put those literacy skills to work and don't be like me.)
1 cup water

½ c cilantro, minced
3 c shredded cheddar (or queso fresco)
4 oz jarred jalapenos, chopped (I couldn't find these and just used canned diced green chilies)

10 to 12 corn tortillas
Optional toppings (I took the "optional" part seriously):
sour cream
lettuce, shredded
diced ripe avocado

Serves 5 to 6

When you prep your ingredients, take a moment to contemplate the cilantro. Some people love this herb, others can't stand it. I am in the camp of the former.

Heat 1½ TBS oil in saucepan at medium-high heat. Add onions until translucent just beginning to brown (about 4 minutes), then add garlic until and continue to cook, stirring, for about 1 minute more. 

My onions are looking a little anemic.
Add spices and stir so they get nice and fragrant, about 1 minute.  
Add the tomato sauce and water. 
Stir chicken into sauce.
I know, another great picture of raw meat. MMmmm....
Bring to simmer and cook 8 minutes. While it's cooking, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Back to the chicken: strain mixture through coarse mesh strainer into large bowl. 
Transfer solids to separate bowl or plate, and mix in cilantro, cheddar & jalapenos.
Spray tortillas with oil and warm in oven for 4 minutes at upper and lower middle racks, on baking sheets. This dries them out a little so they don't get too soggy during the subsequent baking, but if you're going to cut a step this would be it.
Raise oven heat to 400.  Coat bottom of 9 x 13” pyrex pan with ¾ cup sauce. Place generous 1/3 cup chicken filling in middle of each tortilla, and roll that sucker up.
This kinda looks like I'm rolling but I am not--my tortillas curled up during the pre-bake. Funny little things.
Place the filled tortillas in pan, seam side down. Feel free to pack them tightly. Squash 'em and show no mercy.  

Pour the rest of sauce over tortillas, and sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheese.

Cover pan with foil, and bake on lower middle rack for 20-25 minutes.

That's about as good as this picture-taking venture is going to get. Feel free to accessorize with lettuce, tomato, avocado, creme brulee, whatever! Ta-da!


  1. I'm tempted to make these! Although my husband is not a fan of veggies, he loves Mexican food.

  2. I actually like how saucy yours got. mmmm.... swimming in delectable sauce....

  3. I LOVE enchiladas! They are one of my most favorite mexican food dishes. Those look yummy! Perhaps I need to make them veggies style.

  4. Another early morning hunger attack. Thank you pug :P

    Really though, they look delicious!

  5. I commend you on your patience. Enchiladas for me mean opening a can of sauce. I might have to take a risk and attempt this recipe!

  6. Yum! Another ATK success! I will have to try this soon.

  7. Wow these looks seriously amazing, I’m drooling all over the screen here, I have to tray this receipt ASAP, I bet it taste as good at it looks, it doesn’t seem so complicated to prepare, I will give it a tray! You have a lovely blog and I am a new follower! Hope you will like my blog and follow back!

    Pop Culture&Fashion Magic

  8. I have been needing an enchilada recipe that does not used canned sauce since I cannot buy it in Sweden so you have been a recipe lifesaver!