Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas

I love Mexican food. And yes, Texas, I know that the food you get at the restaurants around here (like Casa Grande or El Toro Loco or Mexico) is not “real” Mexican food. It’s been Americanized, watered down for the masses, and totally compromised. And I love it. In fact, whenever I get “real” Mexican food, I don’t like it as much. I’m sorry, maybe that makes me some sort of chilaquile neophyte, but if that means I can get spicy meat and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla, then that’s ok by me. These chicken enchiladas would not fly in Mexico City, but in my house… I mean, mi casa, they rock.

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jars enchilada sauce
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 pickled jalepenos (from a can), minced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese, divided
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped, divided
Flour tortillas
Cooking spray

This meal does take a little bit of time to pull together, so make sure you aren’t starving or you’ll give up halfway through and order a pizza. Start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees. Pour your enchilada sauce into a deep skillet. Add the garlic and cayenne pepper (to taste) and heat to a boil. This happened pretty quickly for me, and also became quite messy. Don’t wear white. You’ve been warned.

While the enchilada sauce is heating, sprinkle your chicken breasts with kosher salt and pepper. Then submerge them in the sauce and lower the heat to low. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through. The recipe I had (from A Sweet Pea Chef) said this would take about 15-20 minutes, but I guess my breasts were huge (yeah!) because it took about twice as long. I also flipped mine over halfway through because the tops were peeking out of the sauce and not cooking as quickly. Once they are cooked all the way through (check it!) take the chicken out of the sauce and put them both aside to cool.

When the chicken is relatively cool, shred it using the two fork method. Hold one fork in the chicken and scrape the other one away from the fork. It’s time consuming but it’s really the best way. Put the shredded chicken in a large bowl. Add about a quarter of each kind of cheese, the jalapeƱos, and the cilantro. I also added some of the enchilada sauce. The recipe calls for half the sauce to be added, but I only put in enough to hold the mixture together—about ¼ cup.

Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray. Then get out your flour tortillas and spoon some of the chicken mixture in the middle, and roll up your tortilla. Place it in the baking dish with the seam side down. Once you’ve done this with all the tortillas, put them in the oven for about ten minutes just to get them a little golden brown. Take them out and turn the oven down to 400. Pour the sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over top. Loosely cover with foil and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil (try not to pull off the cheese) and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese starts to look tasty. Serve with sour cream and a Corona. Even if it’s not real, authentic Mexican, it tastes really good.

(Click here for printable recipe)

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