Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
I’m not sure where my love for Mexican food comes from. I was a very picky child and we never really had Mexican food aside from the occasional ground beef taco (which I probably never ate until high school). Perhaps my palette has changed course over the years and is rebelling against the plainness of my youth with jalapenos and cilantro.
At least one night a week is designated for Mexican fare at my house. It’s usually Wednesday because I go grocery shopping on Monday and it takes two days for an avocado to ripen on my counter. Yes, there always needs to be an avocado. While I’ve already shared a chicken enchilada recipe with you, this one is different. I’ve tried making my own enchilada sauce before and found it not worth the flavor or the time involved. This recipe makes it much easier. I was a little shy with the spices as my family doesn’t usually prefer to taste anything, but for a full Mexican flavor I would recommend using the entire seasoning suggested below or a bit more. If you’re totally against making your own sauce just use a large can of store bought enchilada sauce. This recipe also uses corn tortillas which I generally consider a little healthier than flour tortillas.
These are beautiful with a little chopped scallion and cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice just before serving. If you have mexican rice, sour cream, or avocados (there always needs to be an avocado!) serve those alongside.
For the Sauce:
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 can (8 ounces) tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
For the Enchiladas:
About 2 Tablespoons olive oil
14 small corn tortillas
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can (28 ounces) enchilada sauce, or homemade enchilada sauce
4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk and until well incorporated and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin, followed by the chicken broth, tomato paste, and oregano. Season the sauce with salt to taste. Increase the heat to medium-high, let the sauce come to a simmer, and cook, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened and smooth, about 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9x13 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Line a plate with paper towels. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and swirl it around. Add a tortilla and cook until it is just beginning to become very pliable, 2 to 3 seconds. Using tongs or a fork, flip the tortilla and cook it until it is floppy but not mushy, 2 to 3 seconds more. Quickly transfer the tortilla to the paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, stacking them as they are cooked and adding more oil to the pan in tiny amounts as needed.
When all the tortillas are done, add another teaspoon of oil to the skillet and heat it over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, and oregano and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the enchilada sauce and stir well. Increase the heat to medium-high and let the sauce come to a simmer. Turn off the heat. Place the shredded chicken and half the sauce in a medium-size bowl and stir to mix. Set the remaining sauce aside.
Place a tortilla on a work surface and spoon a generous 1/4 cup of the chicken filling along one edge. Gently roll up the tortilla, making sure the filling doesn't pop out the ends. Carefully place the enchilada seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling, lining up the rolls tightly and neatly against each other.
Pour the reserved sauce evenly over the enchiladas, making sure they are all covered, and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. Bake until everything is hot and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.
Serve with cilantro, scallions, avocado, sour cream, and salsa, if desired.
Adapted from The Mom 100 Cookbook