Sometimes as a result of my general lack of planning in procuring groceries, followed by a lack of meal planning until suppertime is near at hand, I find myself stuck in kind of an improvisatory cooking rut. It looks a little something like this. Emily’s One-pot Wonders: chop and sautee meat remove from pan (or open can of legumes); chop and sautee onions and garlic until soft, add random chopped vegetables and cook until beginning to be tender; add a blend of Italian spices or Moroccan spices or Latin American spices or Indian spices or just salt and pepper; add back meat; throw in a can of tomatoes; simmer; eat. All things considered it’s not bad at all (sometimes it’s even downright tasty!). But, after doing this for a certain period of time, I find it does start to get old. At that point, Emily-with-slightly-higher-expectations has to take rather-lazy-Emily by the shoulders and give her a good shake, and say something like, “you are a lazy ass! I think, at least I hope, you can handle getting 2 pots dirty. Try making something that requires at least a teensy weensy bit of foresight, for heaven sakes!”
And, usually I listen. This enchilada recipe is one of my most recent forays back into the world of cooking what might actually deserve the term a dish. It’s a recipe I originally got from a couple of friends back in college. It was so ooey-gooey-cheesy delicious, it quickly became a frequent guest at our dinner table and generally led to fights over who got to have the leftovers for lunch. I stopped making it because it somehow in my mind transformed into one of those recipes that just has too many steps that you don’t want to bother with – which is strange because it doesn’t! I think maybe the problem was I remembered the way the original recipe called for you to dip each individual tortilla into the sauce and shake it off before filling it, which led to catastrophic messes in the kitchen. But, this step is totally unnecessary if you just coat the bottom of the pan with sauce and then pour the rest over the top.
These enchiladas were brought back to my attention by a couple of people to whom I had given the recipe a number of years ago. They were still making them and loving them (in fact, my mother made them for some of our friends in Norway who “really enjoyed that Mexican lasagne”) so I thought, ‘gosh! Why shouldn’t I?’ Plus, now that I look at my copied down recipe again, I realize that the original measurements do not need to be as strict as they seem. You could easily change these up to use beef, or pork, or canned black beans instead of chicken, and you can also change up the vegetables you sautee with the onion. Plus, I think the technique of making a cheesy-creamy chili-spiced sauce is one to remember. I bet this type of sauce would be great served over sautéed meat or beans and rice with a sprinkling of cilantro, or baked over cooked rice and a variety of mild vegetables (like cauliflower or summer squash) to make a Latin American inspired gratin.
Enchiladas de Pollo courtesy of Beth and Audrey
- 5 Tbs. butter, divided
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped (or you could substitute with another mildly sweet vegetable, like zuchinni, or corn kernels, or something meaty like mushrooms)
- 2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless, yada yada)
- 4 oz green chili peppers, chopped (you can get chopped green chilis in little 4 oz. cans at the grocery store, or you can get jalapenos if you prefer spicier, or you could even substitute a few large scoops of salsa)
- ¼ cup flour
- 1-2 Tbs. chili powder
- 1 tsp. (or more) ground coriander
- 1 tsp. (or more) ground cumin (the original recipe only called for half this amount of spices, but I like it more flavorful, so I increased the amount; feel free to increase it even further, depending on your feelings about coriander and cumin)
- 2 ½ cups chicken broth
- 1 cup sour cream (plain yogurt could also work, I suppose, as could crème fraiche, but sour cream is sooo good. Why would you ever substitute?!)
- 1 ½ cups mild cheese (like Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, or mild cheddar), shredded
- A package of tortillas (flour or corn tortillas, depending on your preference)
- Preheat the oven to 350. Chop the chicken breast into dice sized cubes and either boil them or sautee them until they are cooked through. Melt 2 Tbs. of the butter in a frying pan over medium heat and sautee the onion and bell pepper until they are softened, about 10 minutes. Put these veggies in a bowl and stir in the cooked chicken and chili pepper.
- In a saucepan/small pot, melt the remaining 3 Tbs. of butter. Add the flour and spices and stir together to form a paste, or chunks (look! You just made a roux!), then slowly whisk in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, stirring, then remove from the heat and add the sour cream and ½ cup of the cheese. Stir ½ cup of this sauce into the bowl with the chicken mixture.
- In a rectangular (13”X9”) baking dish, pour about half of the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Spoon a mound of chicken mixture into a tortilla, roll up the tortilla and place in the pan along the edge. Repeat this procedure, making a row of filled tortillas in the pan. Every single time I do this, I wind up using a different number of tortillas, so I can’t really tell you exactly how many to use. But, I’d guestimate that about 8 or 9 would do it. Pour the remaining sauce all over the tortillas, then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes, until the cheese is all golden and bubbly. Serve with a large salad and a refreshing cerveza! Oh, or if you know how to make margaritas, serve those – and teach me please!