This is a definitely a family and friends favorite. Our friend Derek has been asking me for a real recipe for years now, but I’m only just getting around to it. Part of this has to do with the fact that I view cooking as a creative process, based on what’s in the cupboard and what I’m feeling a craving for. That really doesn’t make it easy to replicate successful recipes, nor does it make it easy to articulate one to your friends, who are anxious to duplicate it.
Enchiladas are tortillas, rolled around a filling, covered with sauce. Beyond that, it is wherever your whims take you. Now the recipe below is one that my children and some friends favor, but everything is up for interpretation. Do you use corn or flour tortillas? Chicken, beef, turkey or pork? Black beans or refried? Vegetables? Traditional or green salsa, enchilada sauce or mole? This is all up for discussion. My cousin Cait took my base recipe and regularly mixes it up with ground beef or turkey, sour cream, peppers and onions (see Cait’s recipe, which my Poppa John declared better than mine). These simple changes can give a whole new taste to dinner. Once I outline the core recipe for my chicken enchiladas, I’ll give you some ideas for substitutions.
1 package chicken breast shortcuts
1 Uncle Ben’s 90 second whole grain brown rice (or 1 cup cooked rice)
1 can black beans (15.5 ounces) drained and rinsed
~8 – 12 tortillas (I use soft taco flour ones, but the number you need depends on what size you use and how much filling you put in)
~4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 – 3 can enchilada sauce (28 – 42 ounces)
1. In a large mixing bowl, add chicken shortcuts and break any larger pieces into bitesize pieces
2. Add uncooked rice (if using 90 second variety), black beans drained and rinsed, and 2 cups shredded cheese and mix
3. Add about 2 1/4 cups enchilada sauce and mix. You want the filling moist but not soupy
4. Pour some enchilada sauce into 9×13 casserole dish, enough to cover bottom
5. Heat tortillas 3 at a time in microwave 20-25 seconds
6. Add 2-3 spoonfuls of filling and roll tortilla around and position in pan, seem-side down. Repeat until all filling is used up
7. Pour remaining enchilada sauce on top of tortillas
8. Cover enchiladas with cheese, as much or as little as you like. I used about 2 additional cups
9. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the enchiladas are heated all the way through
As I mentioned earlier, everything in this recipe is up to the cook’s discretion. I have made the following modifications:
- Corn tortillas – I actually really like the flavor of corn tortillas and these are more traditional, but they are harder to work with. Unless super fresh, they tend to break
- Salsa in addition or in substitution for enchilada sauce
- Add sautéed onions and peppers to the filling
- Shredded cheese blends instead of just cheddar. You could also use queso fresco.
- Green salsa instead of mild red enchilada sauce – This is a real hit as well, but tends to be much spicier so my kids prefer the traditional one. I only started doing this recently as I wasn’t ever pleased with the flavor of store bought green salsa. I finally had an epiphany when I realized that I could use store bought green salsa as a base and then add some enhancements. I purchase two green salsas, one jalapeño based salsa like Mrs. Renfro’s and another tomatillo based salsa like Desert Pepper or just the store brand, mix them in the blender with some garlic cloves, fresh cilantro and another jalapeño.
- Use leftover mole chicken – I made a mole sauce out of a previously made barbeque sauce, cocoa powder, tomatoes, dried chilies and some leftover patak’s red curry paste. It turned out great, but I had lots of leftovers, which I ended up using in the enchiladas. These were declared a success as well.
As you can see, enchiladas are pretty simple once you get the basics down and allow you to shine with your own creativity.