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Recipe: Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken

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Recipe: Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken
Dave Scantland
If you're like me, your first introduction to enchiladas was at an Americanized Mexican restaurant. But those meat-stuffed tortillas swimming in tomato sauce and smothered in cheese bear little resemblance to true Mexican enchiladas. In Mexico, enchiladas are all about the tortillas (#1) and the chile sauce (#2). Fillings, believe it or not, are optional. In this recipe, I've tried to remain true to the Mexican version while adapting it slightly to American tastes.

Don't skip frying the tortillas in oil, or they'll disintegrate in the sauce. If you're concerned about the amount of oil used to fry the tortillas, use the alternate directions included in the notes below.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups ancho chile sauce (recipe here)
  • 4-6 ounces cooked chicken, shredded (see note)
  • 2-4 tablespoons diced onion
  • 4-6 corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1-2 ounces mild Mexican white cheese such as queso fresco, crumbled
  • 2-4 teaspoons Mexican crema or sour cream (optional)

Preparation:

1. Mix the chicken with about a quarter cup of the ancho sauce and heat over low heat. The meat should be moistened but not soupy. Keep warm.

2. Place the diced onion in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes and drain.

3. Preheat the oven to 375.

4. Heat the remaining sauce in a small saute pan or skillet (you may not need it all; you want a depth of about 3/4 inch). Heat about the same amount of oil in another small skillet over medium heat. Have two individual heat-proof dishes or one larger casserole dish next to the stove, and have the heated meat and the chopped drained onions close by.

5. One at a time, heat the tortillas in the oil. If necessary, press the tortilla down into the oil with a small slotted spatula to make sure both sides cook. This should only take about 10-15 seconds. Using the spatula, transfer the tortilla into the warm sauce, submerging.

6. Remove the tortilla to the casserole dish and place an ounce or so of the chicken and a teaspoon or so of the onion down the middle of the tortilla. Wait for 15 seconds or so for tortilla to cool a little. Carefully roll up and place seam side down at one end of the dish.

7. Continue with remaining tortillas. When all the tortillas are filled and rolled, spoon a little additional sauce over and top with cheese. Place in the hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes, just until cheese is melted. Drizzle with crema, if desired. Serve with arroz verde.

Notes:

  • If starting with raw chicken, you can poach it in the ancho chile sauce before proceeding with the recipe. Use skinless breast or thigh meat and cook just until done.
  • If you want to save a few fat grams, instead of submerging the tortillas in the hot oil, you can brush each tortilla lightly with oil on both sides and heat in a small skillet for 15-30 seconds per side before coating in the sauce.

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