Sunday, May 17, 2009


This was an awful week in the world of Me. Primarily work-awful, but allergy/sinus infection/head cold awful, too. But instead of spending my time venting, I thought instead I'd share my Enchilada recipe, and along the way maybe some of the vent will...vent.

Triplet update: All is well, all is normal. Nicole is cranky, Nick is excited, I'm bored knitting baby things after only three little hats and three sockies. End of July is the expectated due date. The babies are fraternal, not identical, and one of the girls has Mom's name as her middle name.

Red Chicken Enchiladas
This is a medium-hot to hot enchilada dish. You can make it more or less spicy by adjusting the mix of enchilada sauce and adding or eliminating jalapenos. A little chipotle sauce sprinkled on top of the sour cream when you serve adds an interesting smokey note. We use B├║falo Chipotle.

This recipe began almost 19 years ago, right after Kent and I were married. We had gobs of leftover champagne from the wedding, and we were in the mood for Mexican...enchiladas, specifically. We boiled chicken breasts in champagne and allspice, and used that in the enchiladas. The recipe hasn't changed much since then, but it is really based on a recipe I received from my mom for white chicken enchiladas. I don't think this bears much resemblance to her original recipe, or if she even remembers it, but I speak the truth. I seam to recall thinking "roux? eewwww, I think I'll just substitute red enchilada sauce." Mom will deny all of it. She now has a wonderful enchilada recipe from my brother which is similar in spirit if not in specifics to mine. We both created our recipes independently of one another. Must be genetic.

We buy a better champagne these days and prefer to drink it rather than use it to boil chicken. Although if it goes flat...

  • 3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boiled, baked, or somehow cooked, your choice.
    (or one of those deli-rotisseried chickens)

    (or deli-rotisseried turkey)

    (or leftover baked chicken)
    (or a combination of any of the above)

    *the pictures show the turkey option
  • 1 cereal bowl of shredded white cheese
    Think monterey jack or Oaxaca quesadilla cheese. Mozzarella is a little too rubbery and mild for this. The Oaxaca is a little saltier than mozzarella, and shreds beautifully, and jack is a good old stand-by. Pepper jack would be interesting.
  • 1 cereal bowl of shredded cheddar - we use our store-brand sharp cheddar
    If you want really cheesy, double these amounts
  • 1 cereal bowl of chopped not-green bell peppers
  • 3 fresh green onions, chopped (or one small onion, chopped and sauteed)
  • 2 or 3 fresh jalapeno peppers, finely diced
  • 2 10-oz can regular/mild enchilada sauce
  • 2 10-oz can hot enchilada sauce
  • 1 pack of a 12 to 20 medium-sized flour tortillas
    not the super-ginormous ones, you know what I'm talking about.
  • Sour cream, salsa, and more chopped green onions as toppings

  • One 13x9 glass baking dish and, possibly, one 9x9 glass baking dish.
    The tortillas fit perfectly side by side like little soldiers in the Pyrex dishes. Whether you use one or two depends on how much meat you have. A rotisseried turkey yeilded enough for one 13x9 pan of enchiladas. You'd probably need two rotisseried chickens (they're pretty puny, yes?). With four chicken breasts, we always used the 13x9 plus the 9x9.
Get your chicken cooked up, removed from it's bones, shredded or chopped, whichever is appropriate. I like chopped because I get a cleaner bite when I stick my fork into the cooked enchilada. If you don't like getting shredded poultry in your teeth, go with chopped. If you really dig the acting of using two forks to shred up the bird (and I know those who do), then knock yourself out! Put the chopped or shredded chicken into a large bowl.

Chop up your bell peppers, onion (we used sauteed white onion in this photo), and jalapeno, and dump it all into the bowl with the chicken. Shred the cheeses and put most of that into the bowl. Reserve a large handful of mixed cheeses to sprinkle over the top. If you are using green onions, reserve a couple tablespoons of that to sprinkle over the top, too.

Everything should be in your big bowl, so use your hands or a big wooden spoon or some implement and fold the ingredients together so everything appears to be well distributed. This is now called The Filling.

Open the cans of enchilada sauce and mix them together. I use a 4-cup glass measure because it has a spout. Lightly oil the glass baking dish(es) (yes, Pam and it's type work fine) and pour a just enough sauce in to coat. Tilt the pan around so the sauce clings to the bottom and sides. It helps extract the enchiladas when it's time to serve.

Stir a little enchilada sauce, say no more than 1/2 cup, into the big bowl of The Filling. Hands, big spoon, tossing in the air (dangerous but also effective), whatever stirring method floats your boat. The purpose of the sauce in The Filling is to bind it together some while you are getting it into the tortilla.

Remove the flour tortillas and heat them.

There are several different ways to heat up these tortillas. The objective is to soften them so they don't crack when you roll 'em around the filling. My favorite way, time consuming though it is, is to cook them over a flame. No pan needed. This works best with a gas burner, and you just gently and slowly flip the tortillas back and forth over the flame. It cooks the floury taste out and warms them up nicely. These don't need to be COOKED and charred up, just warmed. Don't go nuts. However, the fast trick is to wrap the stack of tortillas in a barely damp towel, and zap them for a minute (on high) in the microwave. Or wrap them in aluminum foil and keep them warm in the oven. It isn't as culinarily romantic but it's effective. My heart thinks the stove-top cooked ones taste better but I'm probably wrong. Warning: don't do this with an electric stove top or a glass/ceramic/smooth-top stove top. You have to have the heat up a little higher to achieve the same end and they are likely to stick if you aren't careful. Trust me on this. And anyway it's still just not the same.

Okay. Now you have warmed your tortillas in some wonderful romantic or wonderfully efficient way, and you need to set up a little assembly line. I go from right to left: bowl of The Filling, my stack of tortillas, my empty pan(s), and a big spoon.

Take off your jewelry, this can be messy. I like to use one of those big soup spoons, or a small serving spoon to do this. Scoop a couple of spoons of filling into the center of the tortilla. Carefully roll up the tortilla and place it seam-side-down into the baking pan. Keep doing this until the pan is full. If you have extra tortillas and extra filling, use the 9x9 dish.
**If you have leftover tortillas but no leftover filling, save them for quesadillas or make your own chips.
**If you have extra filling but no extra tortillas, this stuff is great on these grilled nachos. I give them 5 stars.

All the tortillas are panned up; pour the remainder of your sauce over them to coat. Use a spoon to spread it around. The edges of the tortillas need to be coated or they get hard and crunchy. Unless you like that :) Live dangerously. Sprinkle the reserved cheese and green onions over the top.

< Kent's two cents worth.

Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is nice and bubbly and the enchiladas are heated through. Remove and let rest for five minutes or so while you get out condiments.

Enchiladas, cooked, having a rest >

I recommend sour cream, a fresh chunky salsa, maybe a few more green onions. Black olives are tasty, too.