I know it may seem an odd post for this time of year given the holidays, but I can never resist a good Mexican dish and had a craving last weekend for enchiladas. When I asked my hubby whether he wanted red or green, he unhesitatingly said “Red!”. This is one of my all-time favorite recipes…especially since it provides enough leftovers for us to have at least one, if not two, more meals out of it. Unless you have 6 or so people, in which case, you’ll likely devour the whole pan at one sitting!
This particular recipe is nice and spicy, with a deep, rich sauce. While I don’t include them in my version, you can certainly include other favorite ingredients like olives if you wish.
1 whole roasted chicken (store bought is easiest), meat shredded
6-8 dried chiles, preferably a combo of ancho and New Mexican
4 cups boiling water
1 large (or two small) yellow onions, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp ground cumin
3 Tbsp flour
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp semi-sweet chocolate
cayenne or chile powder (if needed)
10 large corn tortillas
1/2 lb cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 lb monterey jack cheese, grated (mix with the cheddar)
1 large white onion, diced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (leaves only)
sour cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Shred the chicken meat and place in a bowl; discard the bones and carcass or save for another use. Toast the dried chiles in a dry skillet over medium high heat, approximately 30 seconds per side (do not allow them to burn or the sauce will be bitter). Place in a separate, large bowl and cover with the boiling water. Allow to soften for 20-30 minutes.
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. When hot, add the onions and cook until translucent, approximately 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute until fragrant. Add the oregano and cumin and stir 1 more minute. Add the flour and mix well, cooking 2-3 minutes without letting the flour burn. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Gradually add the chicken broth, stirring constantly until completely blended with other ingredients. Turn heat to low.
Stem and seed the now softened chiles and place in a blender along with 2 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid. Puree until smooth. Place a fine sieve over an empty bowl or 4-cup measuring cup, pour the chile puree into the sieve, and use a wooden spoon to work the puree through the sieve. Work until all liquids are in the bowl or cup, and only solids (the skins, primarily) are left in the sieve. Discard the solids in the sieve, and add the strained puree to the pot with the onion mixture. Season with salt & pepper. Increase heat to medium, add the chocolate, and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in about 1/3 of the chopped cilantro.
At this point, you should taste the sauce and adjust the salt, pepper and heat (by adding cayenne or chile powder if desired). At this point the sauce is done and you can remove it from heat. There should be about 2.5-3 cups of sauce. Mix half the sauce into the shredded chicken, and add most of the remaining cilantro to the chicken (reserving enough to garnish the enchiladas when serving). Mix the chicken with the sauce and cilantro.
Now assemble the enchiladas. In a large baking dish (at least 13×9), place about 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom and spread it around. Take a single tortilla and place on a work surface. Spoon about 1/4 cup of chicken onto the tortilla, top with some of the grated cheese, a Tbsp of while onion and then roll the tortilla up. Place seam-side down in the prepared baking pan. Repeat with the other tortillas until the pan is completely full (you can cram the enchiladas in…so press them close together to make more room). If you have leftover chicken, add it to the remaining enchilada sauce.
Top the enchiladas with the remaining sauce, sprinkle remaining cheese over the top, and then some of the remaining white onion.
Bake for 30 minutes until the cheese on top is bubbling. Serve with sour cream and extra cilantro, with salsa and hot sauce on the side if desired.