Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Whole Enchilada

This post title isn't just another one of my bad puns.  This time it explains a bit about today's recipe.  You see, almost 5 years ago, I was in the mood to create an enchilada recipe.  The problem arose that it was August and tomatoes were in season - just right to be made into sauce.  As a result, I put most of the effort into making enchilada sauce from scratch.  By the time I was finished with it, I didn't feel much like rolling up enchiladas individually.  I ended up just layering tortillas, meat, beans, sauce and cheese into a lasagne-like casserole.

This week I had a huge craving for enchiladas and this time I swore I would make actual enchiladas.

I know it's not the prettiest photo, but let me tell you, these chicken-chili enchiladas were awesome.  If I ever have a similar craving for enchiladas again, this will be my go-to recipe.

It's early spring, so there were no decent fresh tomatoes to use to make homemade sauce.  I used a can of tomato puree`.  Oddly enough, in the end this recipe might have been more work than making sauce from fresh tomatoes.  I don't care.  These were worth it.  They were so worth it!

The components consisted of poaching whole chicken thighs (you can use breasts if you prefer, but I think the flavor of thighs stands up to this type of cooking better) with lots of spices.  I cooked up chili peppers (mild poblanos) and onions in another pan.  A third pan had my sauce bubbling away.  Then I rolled them up with cilantro and cheese (on my portion only of course) and baked them up.

Some notes about this recipe:

I removed the skin from the chicken before cooking it, since it was going to be removed eventually. You might feel this will compromise the flavor of the final product though.  My main reason for removing it was that I wanted to render it so I'd have chicken fat for matzoh balls later in the week (waste not, want not).

I used Monterey Jack cheese because it gave a nice, creamy, gooey texture to the enchiladas and didn't compete with the spicy flavors of the chicken.  If you prefer a sharper cheese, feel free to use it.  If you can get cotija cheese, then you must use it.

I added some cocoa powder to the sauce because I like cocoa powder in my chili.  I think it added a bit too much bitterness to the sauce, so I'm leaving it out of the recipe below.  You might want to try it to see how you like the flavor.

I hope everyone enjoys a great Easter-Passover weekend.  Do you have any special meals planned?  Most of my family won't be around, so I'm going quite low key.  My nod to Passover will be matzoh ball soup and for Easter those of us who are still around will go out to breakfast.  I'd say brunch, but we don't want to eat too late.  We need to get on the road and go to the barn.  My surgeon has cleared me to ride and I'll be doing that for the first time this weekend.  I'm so excited.

Chicken-Chili Enchiladas

For Sauce
  • 1 28-oz can tomato puree`unflavored
  • 1 Tbl chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
 For chicken
  • 3 pounds whole chicken thighs or breasts, skins removed
  • 2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic power
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 poblano or long hot peppers, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbl chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbl fresh lime juice
For Assembly
  • 12 enchilada style tortillas
  • 8 oz Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the tomato in a small saucepan and stir in cumin, garlic powder, chipotle, and salt.  Heat over low heat while you make the rest of the enchiladas.

Place the chicken in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover them.  Add the chili powder, cumin, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer about 20 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a fork,

Meanwhile, in a large pan heat the olive oil over low heat and add the onion.  When it begins to soften, add the peppers.  When they soften, add the garlic and cook another minute or two until fragrant.  Stir in the lime juice and cilantro.

When chicken is cooked, remove it from the bones and shred.  Mix it into the pepper and onion mixture.

Cover the bottom of a baking dish with the sauce.  Place a tortilla in the pan, and place a few spoonfuls of the chicken mixture on top of it.  Sprinkle cheese over the chicken and roll up.  Turn it over so the seam is down.  Repeat with remaining tortillas and chicken.

Bake for 20 minutes and serve.