Monday, January 30, 2012

Creamy "Work Week" Chicken Enchiladas

There are endless combinations for individualizing your chicken enchiladas, depending on your time constraints and the palates of your table. In my opinion, that's pretty cool. 

Today, I had the "super picky" crowd (who wants to see zero veggies inside), and limited time, so I cheated my way through this... which is what a lot of moms do during the busy work week.  And that is TOTALLY fine, as it still puts a hot, home cooked meal on the table, costs less, and is healthier than eating out!  Also, these enchilada freeze wonderfully (if they make it that far).. they usually end up on the "bring lunch to the office" list.

  • Cheater ingredient of the day.... I picked up a hot rotisserie chicken on the way home.  This will save me LOTS of time! If you use this, obviously skip the chicken prep.  The home cooked chicken will probably be more flavorful, but tonight is about speed.
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts – cut into 1" cubes. 
  • 1 Tbsp butter 
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped onion 
  • 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles 
  • 4 oz softened, reduced fat cream cheese 
  • 1 cup whipping cream 
  • 8 - 10 flour tortillas (I used the Carb Balance variety) 
  • 1 cup *grated Cheddar cheese 
  • 1 cup *grated Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers 
    •  You can also use the mixed “Mexican cheese blend” cheese instead of two separate cheeses.
  • 1 cup prepared, jarred salsa 
  • cumin to taste
  • Salt and pepper
    • Optional - red enchilada sauce and green salsa verde for extra color and flavor if you like; sour cream, tomatoes and cilantro for garnish. 
    • In my "make them for me, not the kids" fantasy, I would add some corn niblets and some rinsed/drained black beans to the mixture just before rolling them up.  This would add additional flavor, texture, fiber and the Yum factor!  But I don't think it would go over that well with this tough crowd.
Step-by-Step:
For those starting with raw chicken:
Lightly season chicken.  Cook the chicken first. I usually either poach them (season the water with salt, pepper, a little poultry seasoning, then boil the chicken until just done; no longer pink and clear in middle) or pan saute them in a little butter/olive oil.  But please don’t overdo the chicken b/c it will be dry.  

For everyone:
In a saucepan, melt butter.  Add onion and saute’ until translucent.   
 Add the green chiles and cook along with the softened onions a few minutes.  
These are a key ingredient to the dish.  This is what makes it really taste like Mexican!

At this point, if you have really picky people, you can blend the onions and chilies in a mini-food processor until smooth.  (Sigh... one of my kids insists upon a smooth sauce.)  For an adult "audience," leave it chunky.  

Add the salsa and cream cheese to the onions and chilies, and stir constantly over med-low until blended.  
To add more heat, choose a hotter salsa.  Mild for the kiddos.
Light cream cheese.  You won't miss the fat.
It all comes together into a creamy sauce.
We just saved a TON of time cutting, trimming, seasoning, and cooking the chicken.
Add the chicken (either rotisserie chicken or home cooked). Okay, so it probably doesn't look that great right now, but it will taste yummy.
Adjust the size of your chicken chunks according to the preferences of your family.
 
Add half of the cheeses.  Stir to blend. 


Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Then season with cumin.  This will amp up the Mexican flavor. I like LOTS of cumin!
If you want a "loose" sauce, add more salsa.

Remove from heat or turn down to very low.  Soften tortillas if needed according to package directions (I usually put them between two damp paper towels on a plate and microwave for like 10 seconds – makes them nice and soft and pliable so they won’t crack and tear. 

Place about 3 Tbsp of filling in the center of each tortilla.  

Roll up tortillas and place, seam side down, in a greased, 2-qt casserole dish (can also use 9x13x2 dish).  
Feel free to substitute corn tortillas if you like them better.  Be aware that they are much more fragile and prone to cracking than the flour tortillas.  Be sure to soften them first.
 Pour whipping cream over enchiladas. It will cook down, thicken, and get all bubbly.

You can go directly to the "cheese step" or add some different sauces on top. This time, I added red enchilada sauce on some of them (yep - out of the can), then some salsa verde on others.
There are different heat levels available in enchilada sauce as well.
 
Top with remaining cheese.  If it were up to me, they would ALL have LOTS of cheese, but one of mine is a cheese-a-phobe, so I try to accommodate everyone.

Bake uncovered at 350oF for 25 min or until hot and bubbly.  Top with your favorite garnishes and dig in!


Did I mention that these freeze GREAT?!  So if you are cooking for two (or even one), just put them in smaller oven-proof dishes and bake only what you need, freezing the rest.  I would freeze them before they go into the oven.  Great for sending your kid off to college with a "heat-n-eat" meal, or even for yourself later in the busy work week.  Take them out of the freezer the night before and thaw in the fridge.  Then when you get home, pop them into the oven.  I find that Mexican food, Italian food, and gumbo always improves the next day anyway!  :-)

... and Yes!  I'm THAT serious about cooking for your family!!  It's important.. time together, skill building, conversation, teaching opportunities, health factors, financial factors, you name it! 

If you prefer an "all red" sauce, I add about 1/2 of a 14 oz can of mild red enchilada sauce on top of the cream and then top with cheese.  Left up to me, there would be a whole bag of cheese on the top... but that's just me.  You can change these up any way you see fit!


Written Method:
For those starting with raw chicken:
Lightly season chicken.  Cook the chicken first. I usually either poach them (season the water with salt, pepper, a little poultry seasoning, then boil the chicken until just done; no longer pink and clear in middle) or pan saute them in a little butter/olive oil.  But please don’t overdo the chicken b/c it will be dry.  

For everyone:
In a saucepan, melt butter then add onion and saute’ until translucent.  Add the green chiles and cook along with the softened onions a few minutes.  At this point, if you have really picky people, you can blend the onions and chilis in a mini-food processor until smooth.  For an adult "audience," leave it chunky.  Add the salsa and cream cheese to the onions and chilis, and stir constantly over med-low until blended.  Add the chicken (either rotisserie chicken or home cooked).  Add half of the cheeses.  Stir to blend.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Then season with cumin.  This will amp up the Mexican flavor.    Remove from heat or turn down to very low.  Soften tortillas if needed according to package directions (I usually put them between two damp paper towels on a plate and microwave for like 10 seconds – makes them nice and soft and pliable so they won’t crack and tear.  But if they are soft and pliable, skip this step.

Place about 3 Tbsp of filling in the center of each tortilla.  Roll up tortillas and place, seam side down, in a greased, 2-qt casserole dish (can also use 9x13x2 dish).  Pour whipping cream over enchiladas. It will cook down, thicken, and get all bubbly.   You can go directly to the "cheese step" or add some different sauces on top. This time, I added red enchilada sauce on some of them (yep - out of the can), then some salsa verde on others.  You can totally leave it white if you want.  Top with remaining cheese.  Bake uncovered at 350oF for 25 min or until hot and bubbly.  Top with your favorite garnishes and dig in!

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7 comments:

  1. The idea of using Rottiserie chicken is awesome...tastier and will save a whole lot of time. The dish looks really hearty. Keep posting!

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  2. Hi, Julie. I want to try out this recipe tomorrow. I got a rotisserie chicken and was wondering. What are the proportions of the chicken used in the recipe? Do I use a whole chicken or a specific number of cups of shredded chicken?

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    Replies
    1. Dee - when I use raw chicken in this recipe, I use one pound. When I use a rotisserie chicken, it's pretty variable (kids come through and grab some, different chicken sizes, etc). It probably comes out to around 2 - 3 cups. This of course will depend on the amount of creaminess or sauciness that you desire. I'd say start with 2 cups with the sauce mixed in, and add more if you think the sauce will accommodate it.

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  3. Another thing that works awesome, instead of having raw chicken all over, is the frozen, prepared, cubed chicken at walmart. It's usually in the crates between the meat and frozen food section. I use it for chicken alfredo and it is a super time saver and very yummy. runs about the same price as a rotiserie chicken. I am trying out this recipe tonight! I just hope it taste good without the onion, because my husband is alergic to onion! Thank you for this delicious looking recipe!

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    Replies
    1. Jennifer - Thanks for sharing that tip with everyone! I hope you and your husband enjoy the recipe. By all means leave out the onion. An allergic reaction is NOT the best way to end a great dinner! The seasoned chicken, chilies, etc should be enough to carry the flavors.

      PS... Can he eat shallots? If so, that would be a great substitute for the onions.

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  4. Thank you so much for this recipe! I have made it for my family 3 times now and they can't get enough of it! One question.. When freezing it before cooking it should I leave off the whipping cream and cheese until right before I let it thaw and cook it? Or will it freeze okay with everything on it? Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I make it complete - cheese, cream and all! Thanks for being a fan of my blog! I'm so happy that your family is enjoying this recipe.

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