Friday, April 29, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas (with a Fast Homemade Enchilada Sauce)

My sister-in-law called yesterday asking for my standby, delicious chicken enchiladas recipe (I still need to share it with you all!) which started my craving for enchiladas. Unfortunately, I didn't have the ingredients to make my usuals (ie., enchilada sauce), but I did remember seeing a recipe in my America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook for not only enchiladas, but a homemade enchilada sauce, which I did have all the ingredients on hand for.

The sauce took about 15 minutes to make and was as simple as sauteing some minced onions with salt in vegetable oil, then adding in chili powder, minced garlic, cumin, and a little sugar. I then added tomato sauce and water and allowed it to thicken a bit. 
If you're looking for a smooth, more authentic sauce, you can strain all the yummy bits out. I chose to leave them in until after I topped the enchiladas, and then removed them from my container of leftover sauce.

*Warm your corn tortillas prior to trying to work with them. Corn tortillas can rip or tear if used straight from the fridge without being warmed in the microwave or a warm pan. 

Lay a tortilla on your work surface and add 1/3 c. of the chicken/cheese/cilantro/green chilies/enchilada sauce mixture to the center of the tortilla. Tightly roll the tortilla around the filling and place side by side in the pan.

Add additional sauce and cheese to the top of the enchilada, cover tightly with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. 

The results: The sauce was perfectly smoky and delicious and a fantastic compliment to the enchiladas. This recipe definitely ranks about as high as my standby enchiladas (although my husband would disagree), is better than any I've had in a restaurant, and will be ones that I absolutely make again.
*Note: I halved the enchilada recipe and used an 8"x8" pan. The original full recipe is listed below.

Easy Chicken Enchiladas
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients:
  • 3 c. shredded cooked chicken (approx. 1.5 pounds)
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3 cups)
  • 2½ cups enchilada sauce (use recipe below or 20 oz. of canned sauce)
  • 1-2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 c. minced fresh cilantro
  • 12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
  • Lime wedges (for serving)
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to four hundred degrees. Combine the chicken, 2 cups of the cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce, the chiles and cilantro. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Stack the tortillas on a microwave-safe plate, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until warm & pliable, 40 to 60 seconds, or use your preferred warming method.

Spread the warm tortillas out over a clean counter. Place 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla. Tightly roll the tortilla around the filling, then lay seam-side down in a 9×13″ baking dish lightly coated with vegetable oil spray. In order to fit 12 enchiladas into the baking dish, you will have to lay four of them on top of the others. Lightly spray the enchiladas with vegetable oil spray (which will help keep the tortillas from splitting after they have been baked.)

Pour 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the enchiladas to coat thoroughly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar down the center of the enchiladas. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, 20-25 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheddar browns, about five minutes longer. Serve, passing the remaining 1 cup of sauce and the lime wedges separately. Other topping ideas include: sour cream, diced avocado, shredded lettuce, and Tabasco.

Fast Enchilada Sauce
Yields: About 2½ c.
Ingredients:
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder (if this amount scares you, start out with less and add it to taste)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Pepper
Heat the oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and salt and cook until softened, about five minutes. Stir in the chili powder, garlic, cumin, and sugar. Cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

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