This is a recipe I came up with somewhere along the line, seemingly a million years ago, and have been making for my husband since college, if I remember correctly. It’s kind of like the chicken casserole I grew up eating, but spiced up and wrapped in a tortilla, with salsa verde or ranchera sauce on top. Maybe not very authentic, definitely very rich, and very tasty. I hadn’t made enchiladas for my husband in more than a year– we haven’t been eating a lot of chicken lately, and it tends to be roasted whole or baked thighs when we do– and R reminded me of that recently. Since I have been craving enchiladas for some time, it made sense to make some for dinner. I like this dish on the spicy side to counter the richness of the cheese and the sometimes-bland chicken, but it is easy to scale down the heat if you like by lessening/ omitting the chipotles in adobo and by buying or making a milder sauce. A crowd-pleaser and even better as leftovers, my chicken enchiladas are worth a try.
Chicken Enchiladas (serves 4)
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts or 4 skinless, boneless thighs
- 1 tsp. canola or grapeseed oil
- half a small onion, sliced thinly or diced
- 6 oz. cream cheese*
- 1 – 2 chipotles in adobo (more or less as preferred), minced
- 1 tsp. Adobo with pepper (or 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, pinch of pepper, pinch of Mexican oregano)
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 6-8 tortillas
- 2/3 c. salsa verde or salsa ranchera of your choice (I like this brand if I don’t make my own)
- 1/2 c. shredded cheese (Monterey or pepper jack, mild cheddar, cotija, queso fresco, etc.)
- sliced black olives, diced tomatoes, diced avocado, cilantro and/or sour cream to garnish
Fill a large pot with water and add whole chicken breasts or thighs; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat slightly and boil for 15-20 mins. The chicken should be cooked, but remember that it will have two more cooking opportunities, so don’t worry if it is a little pink. If you like, add garlic cloves, onion or taco seasoning to the cooking water as additional flavor. When the chicken is done, remove it to a plate, cool slightly and then shred with two forks or your fingers. At this time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan, or similar.
In a skillet over medium heat, add the oil and cook the onion until it is soft and fragrant. Add the cream cheese and chilis in adobo (with their sauce) and stir until the cream cheese melts. Add the shredded chicken to the pan, as well as the Adobo seasoning, cumin and chili powder. Cook over low to medium heat until the mixture is heated through; adjust seasonings if necessary, being mindful that the heat of the chipotles tends to intensify slightly as the flavors blend, and that there will be some spiciness in the sauce you add next.
Place a generous spoonful of the chicken mixture into each tortilla, roll it up and place in the pan, seam-side down. They’ll be crowded into the pan and that’s fine. When all enchiladas are filled and in the pan, pour the salsa over the top and cover with grated cheese. Bake for 25 mins., until the cheese is golden brown. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh tomatoes, avocado, black olives, cilantro and/or sour cream, as you wish. Try to save some for lunch the next day– this dish is one of my favorites to have as leftovers.
*I really like this one from Nancy’s; the fact that it is spreadable is convenient. If you are using a block of cream cheese, make sure it is softened slightly before you start to cook.