Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Personal Cheesiness

Bite size baklava is so good. Except when you drop a sweet, sticky, flaky piece on the floor and you can't vacuum it up for fear of waking the sleeping baby.

As a new mom with a baby who only likes to sleep in 20 minute intervals during the day, I'm always looking for recipes for dinner which don't require a prolonged or carefully timed prep. You never know if he will sleep for 15 minutes or 3 hours, or if he will amuse himself while you cook, or if he will begin screaming halfway through your chanterelle truffle risotto. We had some small corn tortillas left over from taco night and some enchilada sauce in the freezer from the last time we made arroz con pollo. I decided to try quick chicken enchiladas, since I also had some shredded cheese, and really, what more do you need?

True to form, I scoured my books for chicken enchilada recipes and then turned to the internet. Every recipe wanted me to make the enchilada sauce from scratch, or wanted to include ingredients I didn't have. I understand being a purist - I don't believe in bottled garlic, fat free sour cream, or pre-chopped onions (and neither should you!) - but seriously, I just wanted something I could pass off as dinner. I didn't even care how "authentic" these chicken enchiladas were, I was aiming for edible. I thought I would make a salad and then I could pass the whole thing off as "balanced."

So I was pleasantly surprised again when we loved them. Again, why the dish is half eaten by the time I take the picture, I just wasn't expecting it to be that good. But when you make them yourself and can control the cheesiness (and therefore the oiliness) and everything else about them, well, I figured I had to share. It's not the traditional way of making them (this involves frying the tortillas in a little oil to soften them), but it is quick and convenient and if you have adventurous kids, is not too spicy or exotic. Store bought rotisserie chicken makes it quick and guarantees a moist chicken. For those who are exacting, I apologize, the measurements should be taken as general guidelines, as I threw this together by sense, but I'll try to approximate. The avocado salsa is optional, but lends a nice cooling contrast to the dish.


About 3 cups finely shredded chicken from a store bought rotisserie chicken
1 can (the big one, 28 oz? whatever is bigger than 14 oz) red enchilada sauce
1 sm can diced green chiles
8 small corn tortillas (we prefer white)
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (or to taste)
1 or 2 fresh tomatoes
1 diced avocado
3 tbsp chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 - 2 tbsp lime juice

Place the shredded chicken in a medium size bowl. Lightly drain the green chiles, some remaining liquid is okay. Add chiles to the chicken along with a handful of shredded cheese, more if you want your enchiladas cheesier. Add enchilada sauce by the spoonful until mixture is moist but not too wet.

Ladle enough enchilada sauce into the bottom of a baking pan to generously cover. My pan was approximately 8x10 and held 8 rolled enchiladas. Heat 8 tortillas on a plate in the microwave for 30 seconds, to warm and make them more pliable. Lay 1/4 - 1/2 cup of the filling in the center of each tortilla, rolling up and placing in the dish seam side down. When all enchiladas are tucked together, ladle more enchilada sauce over to cover. Don't be afraid of it seeming like a lot of sauce - the tortillas will absorb a lot of it. Be sure to cover any exposed edges of the tortillas well, unless you like the edges a little dry and cracked. Finally, sprinkle another handful or two of cheese over according to desired personal cheesiness. Bake, uncovered in a 350F oven for 15 minutes.

While the enchiladas bake, dice the tomato and combine with the diced avocado, chopped onion and chopped cilantro. Add lime juice to taste and mix well, coating the avocado with the lime juice to prevent (or at least slow) browning. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve enchiladas with avocado salsa.

We enjoyed them so much I forgot about making a salad.

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