Monday, April 11, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

This was my first attempt at making homemade enchilada sauce. Since Jason is a huge fan of Mexican food (aka Tex Mex), we eat it (out) a lot. Living in Texas means lots of great options! Almost  always, we order sour cream chicken enchiladas but still like a basic "red sauce" enchilada on occasion. I've made enchiladas that used the canned version before but now that I've seen how easy homemade sauce is, I won't anymore!

These really were delicious and just like you'd get at a local Mexican restaurant. I actually preferred these because I get a little picky about my chicken when eating out and I knew exactly what kind of chicken was going into these. I found the recipe on Pink Parsley and modified it a little just to fit our tastes. Since the chicken simmers in the sauce, it really absorbs the flavors and ensures that the chicken isn't dry or tasteless.

Don't be scared of the two jalepenos or the chili powder. I am pretty sensitive to spice and I didn't think these were hot at all. If you like a lot of heat, you could leave the seeds in tact. You could use any combination of cheese; I used sharp, since that's what I had on hand. I don't want my tortillas to be crunchy but just in case you prefer them that way, I included the instructions on how to do that.

We spent Sunday evening repairing our fence (the recent winds had blown part of it down) so my plans to cook this dish for dinner were pushed back and we got take out instead. Since I knew I had a late meeting on Monday, I went ahead and prepped this dish late that night so Jason could bake it when he got in from work. I assembled it all and just skipped baking it. I was a little worried about the tortillas being too soggy but they were perfect! So, now I know that this would be a great dish to deliver to a new mom or someone recovering from surgery that could use a hot meal. If you weren't sure when they would be eating it, you could deliver it assembled but not baked and all they would need to do is pop it in the oven. If I delivered it that way, I'd probably go ahead and crisp up the tortillas so it would support the sauce better.

Chicken Enchiladas
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons sugar
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 large breasts)
2 cups shredded cheese (any combination of sharp, mild, monterey jack, etc), divided
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Cooking spray
Salt and ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Combine the onion, jalapeno, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oil in a large saucepan. cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 5 minutes.

Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and set aside to cool.

Strain the sauce through a strainer into a medium bowl, pressing the onion mixture to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer the onions to a large bowl and set aside. Season sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add to the onion mixture, and add 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1 cup cheese, and the cilantro. Toss to combine.

Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap; Microwave on high until warm and pliable, 40-60 seconds. Spread the tortillas on a clean work surface, and spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each. Tightly roll each tortilla and lay seam-side down in a greased 9x13 inch baking dish.

If you want crispy tortillas: Up the temp to 425. Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 7 minutes, or until the tortillas start to brown slightly. Then pull the enchiladas out and continue on.

Pour the sauce evenly on top. Top with the remaining cheese. Cover dish with foil, and bake 20 minutes, or until heated through.

Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes, until cheese browns. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.


  1. Mmmmm! Sounds yummy. Bookmarking this one. I LOVE enchiladas and try new recipes for them all the time.

    Did you find these to be sweet at all? I'm usually really leery of adding sugar to savory meals so I'm curious if I should omit the sugar.

  2. Danielle, we didn't find them to be sweet but I don't think a few teaspoons of sugar are going to make a huge difference either way. You could easily skip it or wait and taste the sauce after the chicken is finished and see what you think then. :)


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