Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco De Mayo Enchiladas

Hola!  I felt like getting into the spirit of Cinco de Mayo a couple of days early on Saturday by making chicken enchiladas for Howie and I for dinner.  Actually, I mostly had a taste for chicken enchiladas...and realized as I was buying the ingredients that this would make a perfect Cinco de Mayo blog post.  They were so good that they're sure to bring a little bit of Mexico to your kitchen any time of the year!

I started by dicing up 1 cup of orange pepper, 1/2 of a small white onion and 2 garlic cloves.  For the enchilada sauce, you can either buy a canned sauce or a packet that you mix with water and heat in a saucepan over the stove.  I was hoping to find the can because I was in a rush, but had to go with the with the latter because downtown Cleveland's food options for Mexican ingredients were pretty limited that afternoon.  Either way, follow the package instructions to make it.  I wanted to give the sauce a little heat, so I added a 4 oz. can of diced green chilies, 1/4 cup salsa, some black pepper and the garlic I had chopped earlier into the saucepan.  

Next, I nestled boneless skinless chicken breast into the saucepan and covered them with a lid to let the pieces steam.  Since this recipe was just for Howie and I, I used 1 large chicken breast cut into 3 pieces to speed up the cooking time.  I sprinkled the tops of the chicken with salt and pepper to infuse a little seasoning into the meat.  Yummm.  I started the chicken on medium heat, but turned it down to medium low after a few minutes since it was bubbling.  No burnt enchilada sauce in my kitchen!

While the chicken cooked, I sauteed the orange pepper and onion in some olive oil over medium heat until they were nice and tender.   Don't forget the salt and pepper!

After about 12 minutes I took the largest piece of chicken out of the skillet and checked to make sure it was cooked through.  I removed the other pieces of the chicken and shredded them with 2 forks to get that authentic texture!  When you finish shredding the chicken, preheat the oven to 375 degrees so it's ready when you're done assembling the enchiladas.

Next, I added the tender veggies, about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro to the chicken in a medium bowl...delicious!  Make sure to stir the ingredients together before you add the enchilada sauce so the fresh cilantro can infuse the peppers and chicken.  I topped the chicken mixture with about 3/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, reserving enough to coat the tops of the enchiladas before I put them in the oven.  Definitely be sure to eyeball the amount of sauce while you're adding it though, you don't want the enchiladas to have too much sauce inside.

I warmed 4 tortillas in the microwave for 15 seconds so they could be nice and pliable for rolling the enchiladas.  I used wheat tortillas, but feel free to use flour tortillas if it's what you have on hand (or what you like better).  I spooned 1/4 of the chicken mixture into the middle of each tortilla and sprinkled them with a dash of cheddar cheese.  I don't know if traditional enchiladas actually have cheese inside them...but is there really such a thing as too much cheese in Mexican food?  I didn't think so!

I coated a 9" x 9" glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and spooned some of the remaining sauce onto the bottom of the dish until it was lightly coated so the tortillas wouldn't burn.  I rolled the enchiladas snugly and squeezed them into the dish, topping them with the remaining enchilada sauce and a generous helping of sharp cheddar cheese and fresh cilantro. Time to cook!

I wrapped the dish in aluminum foil and put it in the oven for 15 minutes, and then took the foil off for 5 minutes to let the cheese get golden brown.  Muy delicioso!

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