Monday, May 19, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

A few weeks ago my friends Jeff and Becc had a dinner party, which is what my friends and I have instead of plain old parties now that we're all grown up and married and such. The theme was Southwest, Tex-Mex style food, with all it entails. I'm no expert on this particular cuisine, and my restaurant experience in the area is sorely lacking, so I can't speak as to the authenticity of the meal (What is authenticity anyway?), but I can say that everything I ate that night was delicious. There was guacamole, tortilla chips, salsa, cornbread, and two kinds of enchiladas, all homemade (except for the tortilla chips I think), even a chocolate cake with chili pepper for dessert. We made margaritas, drank wine, played Trivial Pursuit (The 16th amendment to the US Constitution gives the Congress the power to "lay and collect taxes on incomes"), and had an all around good time.

One of the enchilada dishes featured chicken, cheese, and onions wrapped in a corn tortilla and smothered in a deliciously not-too-spicy red sauce spiked with generous amounts of chili powder. I thought these were exceptional, and Jeff let me in on his secret recipe (it was Emeril's). I finally got around to making them myself yesterday, and after just finishing the leftovers tonight I can say they were as good as I remembered. Any recipe that comes out this good (not to mention consistent) the first time two different people make it is a keeper in my book.

This recipe took me about an hour to put together, and then another half hour to bake, so make sure you have some time on your hands before you start. Get all the sauce ingredients together, then heat vegetable oil in a medium saucepan.

Add the flour to the hot oil and stir constantly for one minute, then add the chili powder and cook for another thirty seconds.

Add the tomato puree, chicken stock, oregano, and cumin to the pan. Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes. While the sauce cooks, you can get your filling together, which is a simple mixture of shredded chicken, chopped onion, and grated cheddar cheese. Taste the sauce and season with salt (I added 1/2 teaspoon), then remove it from the heat and whisk it well to make sure the oil is nicely blended. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and heat some more oil in a medium skillet. When the oil is good and hot (not smoking), drop in a tortilla to soften it.

I counted to 10, flipped, counted to 10, then removed the tortilla to a paper towel-lined brown paper bag to drain the excess oil. After softening all the tortillas, you're ready to assemble. Start by dipping a tortilla in the sauce.

Place the dipped tortilla on a plate, top with a generous portion of the chicken filling, then roll it up. Place each enchilada seam-side down in a baking dish. I was able to make 12 enchiladas using small corn tortillas, and fit them all in 9 x 13 baking dish. Top with the remaining sauce and bake for 30 minutes.

When done, carefully remove a few enchiladas (2 or 3 per person should be sufficient unless you're really hungry) with a nice, big spatula and put them on a dish. I'm sure you can come up with some sides on your own, but I went with guacamole and some brown rice that I cooked with chili powder, oil, and a little salt. Garnish with sour cream and you're good to go!


I followed this recipe exactly as written, so I'm not going to post it here. I couldn't find New Mexico chili powder (to be honest, I didn't really look) so I just used plain old nondescript chili powder - tasted fine to me.

Another satisfied customer...

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