Thursday, July 31, 2008

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

I used to call these green chicken enchiladas until someone pointed out the necessity of naming your food in a manner that makes people want to eat it. Yes, I can cook, but sometimes I need help on the PR front. Anyways, this is one of my first recipes I came up with myself. It still remains one of my favorites as well as a great dish to take to outings. It is super versatile as it can be made vegetarian or fancy with practically no effort. Want veggie? Remove the chicken and cream of chicken soup; add tofu (dried a bit) and cream of celery soup. Fancy? Instead of making it in a casserole style, opt for ramekins in individual portions. I think people miss the fact that most meals can be prepared in a fancy or family style way with little or no tweaking. I like to do that to my recipes depending on the situation, that's why I cook what I cook. Also, if you make this recipe a few times, you should be able to pound it out in about 30 minutes (excluding baking).

So back to the recipe. Being that it is summer, if you can get hold of fresh green chiles, use those instead (roasted and diced). If not, the canned work quite well. I prefer the green, hatch variety of chile for this for its tanginess and good flavor. If you like something a bit more smoky or meaty, try poblanos. The goal here is flavor from these chiles, not heat. Sadly, most people never differentiate the two with chiles; it's either hot or hotter. Chiles can add flavor and depth to a dish without adding a ton of heat. Remember that.

The other point with this recipe is with the tortillas. Tortillas outside of the southwest are becoming increasingly better in quality as local manufacturers pop up, but some are still lacking a lot of moisture and texture. If your tortillas are a bit dry and bland (just bite into one, you will know), use this trick to moisten them up a bit. Heat a medium pot of water until slightly steaming, add some salt, peppercorns, chiles, or whatever else you want to flavor it, and dip your tortillas in this for about 3 seconds right before you use them to build a layer. Just dip, build, dip, and build. It brings a little bit of moisture and prevents your enchiladas from being dry and tacky.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

2 boneless Chicken breasts (about 8-10oz each)
1 t cumin
1 t chile powder
1 t salt
½ t pepper
½ t cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix seasonings together, place chicken in baking dish, and sprinkle on seasoning. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil. Bake in oven for about 30-45 minutes or until chicken cooked through. Let chicken cool slightly, then shred or chop.

2 T olive oil
1 Onion, diced
3 cans diced green chiles
1 can diced tomatoes (better if these are with chiles too), drained
1 can cream of chicken (or celery) soup
¾ c sour cream
2 t cumin
1 t chile powder
½ t cayenne
½ t garlic powder
2 t salt
1 t pepper
¼ c cilantro, chopped
1 ½ c Colby jack cheese, shredded
~20 Corn tortillas

In a medium sized skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft. Add diced chicken and chiles, stir and warm. Add tomatoes, chicken soup, and sour cream, cook until slightly bubbling. If too thick, add more sour cream or milk. You are looking for slightly thin because a good amount of moisture will be absorbed by the tortillas, but not too much because you want to avoid the dish getting soggy. So go for something like stewish consistency. Add seasonings and adjust to your liking. Add cilantro last.

In a 9x13 baking dish, spread a small amount of the chicken mixture on the bottom of the dish. This will help prevent sticking. Slice corn tortillas in half (dipped in water or not depending on the quality), arrange enough so it covers bottom of dish, overlapping is fine. Spoon some of the chicken mixture over the layer of tortillas, and then follow with another layer of tortillas. Repeat until you have used up the chicken mixture (probably 4 or 5 layers, this is why the tortilla number varies). Top with grated cheese and place in oven. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes until cheese is nice and bubbly. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes so it will set.


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