We’ve had a lot of babies born in our church lately, so last week, it was time to make another ‘new baby’ meal. I am just now getting around to posting the recipe. I decided to make chicken enchiladas. Now I am no expert on Mexican food, and am not sure how authentic these enchiladas are, but it does involve tortillas baked in a pan with meat and sauce, so that counts, right?
This recipe is an old family favorite that we got out of a church cook book. (Credit for the recipe goes to our friend Kim S.) Church cook books are really marvelous resources, don’t you agree? The original recipe is super simple- so easy, in fact, that it was one that my sisters and I often used when we were learning to cook. And since my recipes aren’t complete without a funny or embarrassing story to accompany them, and since I got my sister’s permission to share this, so long as I didn’t reveal her name, here is the tale.
My sister, as aforementioned, was attempting to learn cookery, and decided on this recipe. The filling for the original recipe is simply chopped chicken, sautéed and smothered in salsa. Well, she chopped up the half frozen chicken breasts, threw them in the pan, smothered them with salsa and finished the recipe as instructed. The house soon smelled wonderful, and the whole family sat down to enjoy the meal in eager anticipation.
I think I got about three bites into my enchilada before I was brought up short by a piece of chicken that simply wouldn’t be chewed. I worked at it a little longer before realizing that others at the table were experiencing similar difficulties in mastication. One sister discretely removed an unchewable morsel from her mouth and laid it on her plate. It was one of those awkward moments, where no one wanted to say anything, but no one wanted to keep eating. I think my mother finally broke the ice and started an investigation. We all thankfully removed the alien chicken from our mouths and tried to solve the mystery.
We asked my sister at length how she had prepared the meal, but she claimed she had followed the recipe to the letter. Poking at the foreign substance a little more revealed it to be some form of plastic. But how on earth could so much plastic be chopped up in one meal? An odd question indeed. My mother again broke the silence when she realized that my sister had inadvertently forgotten to remove the plastic sponge from the styrofoam chicken packaging. You know, that thing they put in the bottom to absorb all the excess raw chicken juices?
We had all laid our forks down by that point, and am afraid to say, didn’t pick them up again that meal. And I’m afraid we might never let my poor sister forget it. But the recipe is so good, that I wouldn’t let that one unfortunate episode ruin it forever. And now I will share it! Here’s what you need.
Now don’t roll your eyes if I say that the secret ingredient in this recipe is cream, because it is. However, I just read an article on facebook saying that skim milk actually makes you fatter, so I’m feeling pretty good about myself.
I mentioned the original recipe calls for a filling of chicken mixed with salsa, which is great when you’re in a hurry, but sometimes I like to doctor mine up a bit. So I started by chopping a couple of onions, two or three peppers and some garlic. This is a really big batch because I am doubling it- one for us, and one for the new baby. Might as well kill two birds with one stone, right?
Now I cheated a bit here by having my chicken precooked and ready to go. This is about six chopped boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which I prefer since they don’t get as dry as chicken breast. Whatever cut you choose, you’ll need to cook it up before you add it. But for pity’s sake, remove the little plastic spongy thing! (Sorry sis, couldn’t resist)
Stir this all together with a bit of salt and pepper, and then I like to add a little heat by means of a chipotle pepper in adobe sauce. Or if you look in your fridge and realize you are clean out of chipotle peppers in adobe, you can use a teaspoon of chipotle powder. Or just salt and pepper if you don’t like heat. I just love the smokiness of chipotle.
So that’s your filling. Then you start your assembly line. You’ll see I have two pans here, one of them for us and one that is disposable so the new baby doesn’t have to wash and return it. Just plop a good amount of filling in the middle of your tortilla and roll it up tight.
The original recipe says to simply pour a pint of cream over the whole thing, but my big sister told me that if you want to cut the calories a bit, you could use half a pint of cream and mix in a can of enchilada sauce. I find this adds to the flavor quite a bit and perhaps makes them more authentic enchiladas! Either way, mix the two up for a fabulously simple sauce.
Serve it with your favorite Mexican sides. Here we just had sour cream, avocado and tomato, but rice is great too. And you can hold the beans in the filling and serve it with refrieds. The possibilities are endless!