July 17, 2008

Jen's Green Enchilada Surprise

Tonight’s dinner selection is born out of the necessity to use ingredients that I have on hand, and my current obsession with South of the Border cuisine. I have been on a major Mexican food kick lately, thanks to my recent purchase of a tortilla press and my Mexican Everyday cookbook by Rick Bayless. If you get a chance, this is one of the easiest to follow, authentic, Mexican cookbooks that I have seen in a while. All the recipes are fairly healthy, completely flavorful and geared toward the quick weeknight meal. I digress….back to our dinner.
I had some chicken thighs thawed to use last night. Since I preempted last nights dinner in favor of Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice, I had to figure out something to do with the chicken thighs I had thawed. After all, I cannot justify wasting perfectly delicious chicken parts! I was worried about keeping them uncooked until today, so I just baked them in the oven at 375 degrees with just a little salt, pepper, and olive oil for about 45 minutes, yesterday afternoon. Then, I reserved the cooked, bone-in, skin-on thighs in a plastic container for tonight’s meal. Today, I took the skin and bone off the chicken and shredded the meat with a fork.
I also have some fresh cilantro, corn on the cob, whole wheat tortillas, and crème fraiche to use up (which is similar to sour cream or Mexican creme, but thicker). I dug in my pantry and found the rest of the ingredients that sound pretty tasty to me, so I am going to concoct my own version of green chile chicken enchiladas.
This is a recipe that I have made before, but since there is no official recipe I usually vary it based on what I have and what needs to be used. This will be the first time that I am actually writing out the directions and ingredients in a recipe format. Since I don’t actually measure anything when I cook, all measurements will be approximated and can be adjusted to your individual tastes. Also, feel free to add or delete ingredients as you wish. My ingredient list is long, since I am trying to use some things up. For example, I like super-spicy food. If you think something may be too spicy for your taste, just leave it out. How easy is that! This is a useful idea for leftover chicken that you may have on hand. Are you excited???? I know I am. Let’s Cook!

Jen’s Green Enchilada Surprise
2 Tbsp of canola oil
1-2 cups of boneless, skinless cooked chicken, shredded or diced into cubes
5 cloves of minced garlic
1 diced yellow onion
1 small (7.76 oz) can of green salsa, medium (I use La Cosenta brand)
1 small can of diced green chiles
½ small can of diced jalapeños or pickled, sliced jalapeños
1-2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and diced
1 large can (1 lb. 12 oz.) of green chile enchilada sauce (I use Macayos or Las Palmas brands)
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
1 tsp Ancho Chile Power
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Approx. 6 -12 tortillas of your liking, depending on size
(I usually use Guerrero Whole Wheat tortillas)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sour cream (or Mexican creme, or crème fraiche thinned with a little milk)
2 cups of shredded jack cheese, divided
¼ cup of queso fresco and 1/4 cup of Cotija cheese, combined (for garnish)
Cooking spray
Water, as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a larger skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Sauté diced yellow onion until soft and translucent. Add minced garlic and sauté for additional 2 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn. Add cooked chicken, green chiles, chipotle peppers, jalapeños, green salsa, cumin, coriander, Ancho chile powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add water, as needed. I use the small salsa can and add 1 can of water to mixture. Stir to combine thoroughly. Turn heat down to medium simmer, and heat mixture through until all ingredients are warmed/sauce thickened; approximately 5-10 minutes. Turn heat off and set aside.

Spray a 9 x 13 glass casserole dish with cooking spray. Open can of green enchilada sauce and pour approx 1/3 of can in bottom of glass casserole dish. Spoon chicken mixture into each tortilla to desired filling amount. Take 1 cup of shredded jack cheese and sprinkle a little bit of cheese in each tortilla with chicken mixture. Roll filled tortillas and place into glass casserole dish, seam side down (on top of green enchilada sauce). Pour remaining green chile enchilada sauce over rolled tortillas, covering evenly. Take remaining 1 cup of shredded jack cheese and sprinkle over top of enchiladas. Bake uncovered for approximately ½ hour at 350 degrees; until cheese is golden and bubbly and edges of tortillas are very slightly browned and crisp.

Remove enchiladas from oven and let cool for approximately 10 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle top with queso fresco/Cotija cheese mixture and chopped fresh cilantro. Cut and serve with a dollop of sour cream (or Mexican creme, or thinned crème fraiche instead) on top of each portion.

Jen's Notes:
I think I am also going to top ours with a few diced tomatoes and mashed avocado. I typically like to mash my avocado with some lime or lemon juice and kosher salt and serve as a topping on each portion.

For a side dish, I just serve this with a simple salad. I have some baby spinach to use up, so it looks like we will have a spinach salad on the side and maybe some corn on the cob that we have had for a while.

Again, this seems labor intensive but it is really easy. Just put ingredients in a skillet, heat through, stuff tortillas, and bake. I am looking forward to this dinner, since we have not had it in a while. Yum!

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