December 22, 2005

Chicken Enchiladas

Mexican food is scarce in Paris, or at least great Mexican ingredients. I didn’t realize I would miss it so much over here. I’d devoted a fair amount of time to developing my perfect quesadilla and was bitter that I couldn't reproduce it here. So, after much frustration, my husband, Paul, and I set about rectifying the situation. We actually have been eating Mexican food (albeit lacking certain ingredients) in Paris more than we did at home. Last year, this was due to our requirement of each American visitor who came to stay with us. They had to bring us cans of refried beans, black beans, salsa and some tortillas. (Also, some duty-free gin, but that is another post…) I got used to it after a while. “Hey Meg, what do you want from the States?” “Oh, just beans.” It wasn’t even weird anymore. Do I realize that I could’ve tried to make my own? Yes, but you go ahead and look at my kitchen and then you tell me if it’s worth it.

Ahem, anyway, this post isn’t actually about refried beans. This is a recipe for Chicken Enchiladas that Paul’s family has been making for years. It is really simple and tastes SO good. I made these enchiladas last week and, as usual, there was a bit of squabbling over who would get the leftovers. Luckily, I was the one home during lunch time. Although, I have to admit I didn’t even wait until lunch. I devoured it by 10:30 and felt only slightly guilty.

Okay, the amounts are approximate as it is pretty difficult to get everything in perfect proportion; you are going to have leftovers of something. Obviously, you can make enchiladas with just about anything. What I love about this version is the slight crunch of the red onion with the silky, smoky sauce. Somehow it’s perfect. Guacamole is a must on the side. You can freeze these as well. My mother-in-law makes at least double this recipe and freezes a few pans for easy dinners. Defrost in the fridge before baking.

Chicken Enchiladas

24 corn tortillas
olive oil
3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (about 4 cups)
2 medium red onions, finely chopped
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated (or more!)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cans red enchilada sauce, “Hatch” brand is great or make your own
12 oz. beer (preferably darker)

Start with the sauce. Combine the sauce and beer and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add a handful of the grated cheddar and stir every once in a while until melted. Let simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the chicken breasts. I usually sauté them about 5-6 minutes per side as this is what I find easiest. I have also used leftover roasted chicken which is wonderful, so use whatever you have.

Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a wide sauté pan. Use medium high heat as you want the tortillas to immediately fry, not stew in the oil. Add one tortilla to the pan, letting fry just until softened, about 10 seconds, maybe less depending on the temperature of the oil. Fry each tortilla one or two at a time just until softened (not crispy), transferring to a paper towel lined plate. I put a paper towel between each tortilla to really soak up the oil. Frying the tortillas is essential, don’t skip this! (Haven’t we all ordered enchiladas at some bad Tex-Mex place only to be served what looks like a tortilla taken directly from the package, filled with ground beef and covered with sauce? Gross.)

Once the sauce is ready, the tortillas are fried, and the chicken, onions, cheese and cilantro are chopped, you can start to assemble the enchiladas. I use 2 smaller pans so that we can bake one right away and save one for later. One 9x13 would work, too. Pour some sauce into the dish just to cover the bottom. In each tortilla put some chicken, cheese, red onion and cilantro. Roll up tightly and place seam side down in pan. Continue with the rest of the tortillas. Pour sauce over enchiladas, covering every surface. Top with any leftover cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Sprinkle with some cilantro and serve with guacamole and maybe some sour cream on the side (and a salad, if you want to feel good about yourself the next day.)

1 comment:

JO said...

I put refried beans on the bottom, spanish rice over that and the enchilladas on top with sauce and monterray jack cheese. Yummy