Spice Up Your Day With Easy Enchiladas

May 1, 2011

Mexican food and I go waaay back.  I spent the first two years of my life in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where there was (and probably still is) an abundance of superb Mexican restaurants.  So from a young age, my palate was trained to adore tortilla chips, burritos, and oh-so-good tomatillo sauce.   My family’s favorite Mexican restaurant was called The Flying Burrito.  I’m pretty sure it went out of business, but back in the day, it was the STUFF (well, so I am told—my memory hadn’t quite developed when I was two).  My parents tell me that I was a little impatient, crying baby, but that they had going out to dinner down to an art.  We could pull into The Flying Burrito, browse the menu as we walked to our table, scarf down chips and spicy burritos drenched in queso dip, and then pull out of the parking lot all in less than 21 minutes.  Now that, my friends, is a feat.  Have you ever tried doing that with a screaming baby? I can’t imagine that I made it very easy for my parents…

Mmm easy enchiladas (emphasis on the EASY!)

Maybe this is the reason why today my one true weakness is a good queso dip.  Maybe it’s because queso dip is just really, really, REALLY yummy.  Another one of my favorite Mexican dishes is an enchilada casserole.  A good enchilada can spice up anyone’s day.  No offense to the awesome school that I attend, but I have been in a slight academic dull period for a few weeks.  In each class we have been preparing for the dreaded AP exams, so I can’t say that it has been the most fun thing ever.  So when I found out we were making enchiladas in Cooking class, of course I immediately got excited and started spitting out some of my Spanish vocabulary.  Enchiladas can spice up any dull day.  Here’s what you need to spice up your life today:

My friend, Hummus, rinsing before mincing the cilantro

Ingredients (casserole): 3 Cups shredded cooked chicken (1 ½ pounds), 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3 cups), 1 ½ cup enchilada sauce (canned or homemade), 1 to 2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chiles, drained, ½ cup minced fresh cilantro, salt and pepper, 12 (6 inch) corn tortillas, lime wedges (optional), sour cream (optional), diced avocado (optional but totally recommended), and shredded lettuce for serving (optional)

Ingredients (enchilada sauce): 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 onion minced, ½ teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons chili powder, 3 garlic cloves minced, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce, ½ cup water

Cupcake mastering the correct way of chopping an onion

Directions: Make enchilada sauce: Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chili powder, garlic, cumin, and sugar.  Cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.  Stir in the tomato sauce and water.  Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make enchiladas:  Heat the oven to 400ºF with a rack in the middle position.  Combine the chicken, 2 cups of the cheese, ½ cup of the enchilada sauce, the chiles, and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stack the tortillas on a plate, cover with paper towel, and microwave until warm and pliable, 40-60 seconds.  Lightly coat a 9×13 inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray.  Spread 1/3 cup filling evenly down the center of each tortilla.  Tightly roll the tortilla around the filling and lay seamside down in the baking dish.  You might have to lay a few on top of the others or sideways for everything to fit; it’s ok.

Lightly spray the enchiladas with vegetable oil spray (you can slip this step if you don’t have vegetable oil spray; it’s meant to keep the tortillas intact during baking, but this is not crucial).  Pour the remaining 1 cup of enchilada sauce all over the enchiladas so that they are thoroughly coated.  Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheese over all. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, 20-25 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake until the cheddar browns, about 5 minutes more.

The final product. ¡Que delicioso!

And Voila! Mmm mmmm mmmm, and now you have it.  Or should I be saying, “mmm mmm mmm, y aqui está!”  So go eat some enchiladas, and go spice up your day.  This is Saucy Sayre signing out.  Stay saucy, Citizens.

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