Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

I know a dish is good when my family asks me to make it again immediately after they eat it the first time; this was the case when I made these chicken enchiladas. I found the recipe a while back but hadn't gotten around to making it until just last week. The recipe didn't sound too complicated and I didn't think it would take me long to prepare everything but I was clearly mistaken. Not only did I cut myself in the process, but I also managed to get a little bit of jalapeno pepper under my fingernail and was left with a burning sensation in my thumb for many hours.

I was quite frustrated with both myself and the recipe because it required so much effort and time, something I hadn't anticipated. I know there are things that I cook or bake which can be time consuming, but usually I am aware of that fact going in and therefore I mentally prepare myself for the time and effort required to produce the dish. However this time I was convinced that this recipe would be a breeze and so, I was caught off guard when it came time to making the enchiladas. I was completely ready to write off the enchiladas as a fail but then I saw my family's enthusiastic response and I became determined to recreate the recipe in an easier way. I kept the ingredients the same but tweaked a couple of steps, like using pre-cooked chicken instead of cooking the chicken from scratch, and put the new version to the test this past weekend.

I'm happy to report that my tweaking was a success! I managed to keep the same great flavor that my family had originally fallen in love with but shortened the preparation time by half an hour. The dish came together exactly how I wanted and everyone was left satisfied. The best part about these enchiladas is that they taste good fresh from the oven but they also reheat well. The first time I made them I didn't eat it right away. The next day, everyone in my family took one or two with them for lunch and by the time I came home from school to try it there was only one enchilada left. I was so glad to see how my family enjoyed it, both last time and this time, and I know I will be making it again sometime in the near future.

Chicken Enchiladas
  • 3-4 cooked skinless chicken breasts (depending on the size; I used 4 medium sized)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red chili flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 28 oz (392 mL) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/2 cup (about 1/2 bunch) cilantro, chopped
  • 12 fajita-size flour tortillas
  • Salsa (any variety will work; just enough to cover the top)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a large saucepan heat the oil on high heat until hot then add the onions and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
  2. Add the crushed tomatoes, chili flakes, chili powder, cumin, and sugar and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer and thicken for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, shred the chicken into a bowl and combine with the cilantro and one cup of the shredded cheese.
  4. Once the sauce has slightly thickened, pour it through a strainer. Make sure to press down onto the onion mixture to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Reserve the liquid and add the onion mixture to the chicken. Mix well to combine.
  5. Microwave the tortillas for 30-60 seconds so that they are soft and pliable. Working with one tortilla at a time, spread about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in a line evenly along the bottom third of the tortilla. Tightly roll the tortilla and lay, seam-side down, in a greased 9" x 13" pan.
  6. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and lay each one so that it is touching its neighbors. Pour the liquid sauce and salsa evenly over the enchiladas and top with the remaining cup of shredded cheese.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes or until the cheese browns a little. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
Note: The enchiladas can be reheated the next day either in the oven or the microwave, either way is good though the oven will keep the edges a little crispier.

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