January 11, 2010

Easy Chicken Enchiladas!

Bear with me here, I don't use a recipe outside of the one in my head, which means each time is a little different. Plus I don't measure anything (which makes me a terrible baker), so exact amounts aren't really my strong suit.

Oh, and also - I realize that this doesn't really fit in with me trying to lose weight. But on Saturday I went snowshoeing (over hilly terrain!), and I did 8 minute abs. And arms. So I deserve some cheesy, saucy, sour creamy deliciousness! Ha!


1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breasts (fat and yucky stuff trimmed off)
1/2 of an onion (more if you like onion better than I do)
1 red pepper (you can use whatever color you want, just not green. It's less nutritious, and it doesn't fit well with this recipe. At least not in my head.)
1 can of diced green chili's
Jalapeno (fresh, canned, jarred, pickled - whatever and however much you want to add)
1 can of Rotel tomatoes (or whatever diced tomatoes you have on hand)
Black beans
Canned Corn if you want...I don't like corn in salsa or in other mexican dishes :( yuck!
Small tortillas
2 -3 cans of enchilada sauce...I use half hot and half mild
salsa (optional)
Couple Tablespoons of Olive or Canola Oil
2 cloves minced garlic
Spices (salt, pepper, taco seasonings if you want, chili powder, etc if you want)
Lime Juice (optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese
toppings! diced jalapenos, sour cream, cilantro, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, black olives, etc...depends on how fancy you want to get!

This is how we do it:

Cook the chicken however you want. If we were doing Difficult Chicken Enchiladas instead of Easy Chicken Enchiladas, I would tell you to simmer a whole chicken with peppers, onions and limes; then let it cool and shred it with two forks. But that is a lot of work, so I just boiled the boneless skinless chicken breasts in beer, let them cool, then chopped them up into small pieces. The beer is quite unnecessary...it was more of an experiment, but it didn't turn out to be any more tender or flavorful so go ahead and just use water (it's cheaper). The reason you don't want to saute the chicken breast is because it tends to get a tough skin on it when you cook it in hot oil directly on the pan.

While the chicken is cooking, chop up your veggies and open up your cans. After the chicken is done, dump out the water (I just used a saute pan that had high sides), heat up some Olive Oil and cook the onions, garlic and bell pepper for about 3-4 minutes, then add the chili's and the jalapenos...cook for another minute (meanwhile chop up the chicken breasts). Add the tomatoes and the chopped up chicken, as well as the black beans and/or corn if you are using. At this point, I dump my enchilada sauce into a large bowl with about a cup of salsa (I like it that way - you don't have to add the salsa if you are a wuss), mix it around and add 4-5 spoonfuls to the chicken mixture. I also add some taco seasoning to the mix because I like my filling to be really flavorful, and the taco seasoning in the packets (like Ortega) also have corn starch or something in them to thicken the mixture. You can skip this part or just use salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cilantro, etc. Finally, I like to add some lime juice to give it a little zing!

Pour about 1/3 of the enchilada sauce mixture into the bottom of a glass baking dish (I use this lasagna pan Steve bought me, because it has a lid so I can just put the leftovers directly into the fridge), fill your tortillas with the chicken mixture, put them in the pan seam side down, then pour the rest of the enchilada sauce on top. Top with the grated cheddar cheese and pop into a 350 degree oven for about 25 - 35 minutes, or until the middle is hot and the cheese is melty and bubbly. Top with whatever garnish you want! I was lazy so I just did sour cream and lettuce last night, but cilantro is ALWAYS worth using.

Please note: you could substitute beef, pork, or just make these vegetarian (but make sure to use the black beans if that is the case, for protein). Also, if you have left over meat mixture, throw it in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer...this makes DELICIOUS nacho topping!

If you want to make the Difficult Chicken Enchiladas, cook the whole chicken like I directed above, season it with your own spices instead of using a taco packet, and make this homemade enchilada sauce. It is more authentic than the canned stuff, and even though it is very different, it turns out really well. Note that the quality of the chili powder matters, if you can't find the kind that she recommends.

Rockin Robin's Raving Enchilada Sauce:
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 Tbs Gebhardt Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 heaping tsp. garlic powder (with no salt added)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon (less than 1/16 tsp.)
  • 1/3 tsp. sugar
  • 5 Tbs. cold water
  • 5 Tbs. white flour
Directions:In a 2 quart sauce pan add the chicken broth, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, cinnamon and sugar (the sugar is a little secret to eliminate any bitter taste from the chili powder).
Use a whisk to mix everything well. Heat to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 3 minutes.
Whisk frequently to make sure all spices dissolve. This is important for flavor and a nice smooth sauce.
While the sauce is on a slow simmer/boil, add 5 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl.
With another whisk mix 1 tablespoon at a time of flour. Whisk vigorously to avoid lumps. If you have lumps here, you will definitely have lumps in your sauce.
After 3 minutes of cooking sauce, turn the heat up to high. Very slowly, pour the flour mixture into the boiling sauce. Here you must whisk the sauce vigorously while adding the flour to avoid lumps.
After all the flour is added, continue to whisk for one minute. You can turn the heat down to medium during this time. Just make sure the sauce is boiling.
Turn off the heat, this enchilada sauce recipe is done.

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