Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

Buenos noches!  Tonight was an enchiladorama...  But before I take you straight to Tex Mex heaven, there's something you should know about me.  I'm a runner.  In a few short weeks I'll be pounding the pavement in my third marathon, and I don't know how or why that happened, but it is a fact that three mornings a week, I find myself exercising on the mean streets of Culver City at an hour when it's still dark out.

I don't do this alone, which brings me to tonight's dinner.  11 of my running pals and I have decided that it's a good idea to enter The Relay, a 200 mile relay race.  On foot.  Through the night.  In the cold.  I want my mommy.  So tonight we had our first meeting, and in order to keep people from fleeing, I made enchiladas.

If you're squeamish about having guests over on a weeknight, you're not alone.  Life is hectic, and getting an impressive dinner together after a long day at work is daunting.  But there are two words that will keep your reputation as a domestic genius in tact:  Make Ahead.  All the dirty work for this meal was done the night before my guests came over, so all I had to do today was heat and greet.  Copyright that phrase please, I just thought of it.

Start with chicken.  I bought a whole chicken already cut into 8 pieces, but you could also buy a whole chicken and cut it yourself.
Cover the chicken pieces in a pot with water, and boil them for half an hour.  Doesn't boiled chicken sound appetizing?  Why no it doesn't, but this chicken will get mixed with all kinds of yummy flavors and baked into deliciousness, so fear not.  Once the chicken is cooked through, let it cool, and shred the meat with two forks.

Chop an onion...  Here's a speedy way to do it.  First cut the onion in half laterally (but not all the way through, only about 90%).
Now chop slits into the onion in the "vertical" direction, like so...
Now, make "horizontal" chops through the onion, and you'll have it diced in no time!
I chop a lot of onion around here, and I have to say, the one trick that keeps the tears away is to chop near an open flame.  In this case, the chicken was boiling, so I kept my cutting board near the stove.

Now we need 4 cups of chicken broth, but I'm going to ask you to cheat with me.  Use the water you boiled the chicken in.  It's ok, I won't tell Martha Stewart.  This is resourceful, and it works just as well as the boxed stuff for enchilada sauce.
Next we'll heat some flour and vegetable oil, and then in  the same pot, we'll mix the chicken broth with 2 large cans of red enchilada sauce.  Add some salt and pepper too.  This will make a thick tasty red sauce.

Remember our onion we chopped?  Now we're going to saute it in some olive oil with some salt and diced green chiles.
Once everything is soft and happy, mix in the chicken.
Just a few more steps of prep, I promise...  I fried these corn tortillas in canola oil for a minute or so.  If I were a more serious runner, I'd probably skip this step.  But there are a lot of things I'd do if I were serious, and I'm not, so we fry.  Also, grate a lot of cheese, and chop some green onions.
Cooking enchiladas takes endurance, but now the real fun starts.
Dip a tortilla in the red sauce...
 And give it some chicken fillin'.
 Throw some cheese and green onion in there.
And tuck and roll!

Do this a bajillion times until you run out of filling.  Mine made two large casserole dishes.

Now top the enchiladas with more sauce, and more cheese...
Now for the best part.  Cover these bad boys in foil, refrigerate, and walk away.  Go get your beauty rest.  These lovelies will be waiting for you tomorrow.
All that remains is to bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes, until they're bubbly and warm.  Serve with sour cream, cilantro, green onion, shredded lettuce, and chopped olives.  Yeah, that's a lot of toppings, but I'm all about toppings.

Oh, and the leftovers?  Don't even get me started...

Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond
Ree lives on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma, so I trusted her enchiladas from the start.  Her recipe calls for ground beef, but in my world, enchiladas have to be filled with shredded meat, so I went with chicken.  I also doubled the recipe, since I had 12 mouths to feed.

2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cans (28 ounce) enchilada or red sauce
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 whole chicken, cut up
1/4 cup olive oil
1 whole large onion, finely diced
4 cans (4 ounce) diced green chilies
1 teaspoon salt
20 whole (to 28) corn tortillas
1 cup canola oil
5 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped black olives
1 cup chopped green onions
½ cups chopped cilantro

The Chicken
Cover chicken parts with water, and boil for about 30 minutes (or until cooked through).  Let cool.  Remove the skin, and shred the chicken with two forks (or your fingers).

The Sauce
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.

The Filling
Saute the onions in a skillet with the olive oil. Stir in 4 cans diced green chilies and salt.  Stir in the cooked chicken and set aside.

Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft, not crisp – about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour ½ cup red sauce in bottom of baking pan. Spread to even out. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, and green onions in the center of tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro, olives, and green onion over enchiladas before serving.  Serve with a big spoonful of sour cream.

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