Tex-Mex: Now in Your Kitchen! (Chicken Enchiladas)

I make no secret about one of my favorite things about Houston: the delicious, incredible Tex-Mex. What’s not to love about it? Wonderful flavors, edges of heat and spiciness, a nearly endless variety of food, refreshing margaritas… It’s almost impossible to go wrong.

Until I try to make it myself. I can make a mean taco, but I’ve never had much success with much else. My food is never as flavorful; the meat never as moist.

Until now.

in pan

Red-chili-sauce-chicken enchiladas. They are, in a word, amazing.

Fair warning: my kitchen was a mess after this. It took about an hour & a half from first chop to taking out of the oven, so it’s not a quick & easy recipe.

But oh my. So worth it.

The original recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Recipes book, with only slight modifications. I highly recommend the book. It’s easy to following, has interesting stories, and so far, delicious food.

enchilada

Sauce:
olive oil
1 small onion (or 1/2 medium)
2 cloves garlic
2 chopped jalapenos
3 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp each ground coriander, ground cumin, oregano, sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs in 1/4″ strips
1 16-oz can of tomato sauce
3/4 cup water

Filling:
1 lime
1/2cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
8 small corn tortillas

Toppings:
1 cup cheddar cheese
sour cream, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, limes

1. Make the sauce: Finely chop onion & garlic, saute in a meduim/large skillet in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add chopped jalapenos & stir for several more minutes; then add spices, sugar, and salt. Stir constantly for 30 seconds.

2. Add chicken and stir until coated (about a minute). Add can of tomato sauce & water, bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from heat, and strain chicken-sauce mixture, collecting the smooth sauce in a bowl. Strain as thoroughly as possible. Mix chicken/jalapeno/onion remainder with cilantro, cheese, and squeezed lime. Transfer chicken to freezer to cool until filling.

4. Prepare tortillas: Spray both sides of tortillas with cooking spray & lay on baking sheets. Warm in 300 degree pre-heated oven for 5 minutes  (don’t skip this! This will keep the tortillas from getting soggy & make it MUCH easier to fill), then remove & set out on countertop. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

5. Roll enchiladas: Cover bottom of 9×13 casserole dish with sauce. Place 1/2 cup filling in the center of each tortilla, roll tightly, and place (seam down) in the baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas, and top with cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, until heated thoroughly.

Remove, garnish with lime & other toppings, and serve immediately!

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