Everything you make is Mexican!
That was Danny’s (slightly critical) response when I told him I was making this for the blog.
Well, I am not apologizing. For starters, Mexican is DELISH and always a crowd pleaser. But beyond that, he’s wrong! I have posted exactly one other Mexican dish on my site ever, so I don’t think I’m at risk of making too much of a good thing haha.
Enchiladas are one of my favorite Mexican dishes. Whenever I go out to eat Mexican, its going to be a debate between tacos and enchiladas for what I am going to order. While tacos are delicious, enchiladas win in the comfort food department. They are warm, soft, cheesy, baked goodness that can feed a crowd and will be every bit as welcome in May as they are in December.
For me, a comfort food also can’t require me to spend hours in the kitchen. This is where canned enchilada sauce comes into play. I know, I know. Where is the monkey covering his eyes emoji when you need it?!
Growing up, I learned a lot of my cooking skills from my dad, who can tear it up in the kitchen. One thing I learned from him is that store bought ingredients can carry a lot of weight if you just put in a little effort to doctor them up. This saves a ton of time when you’re enlisting the grocery aisle’s help for a slow simmered sauce!
One of the easiest ways to make the flavors in a store bought sauce really sing is to add fresh herbs. Fresh herbs are absolutely incredible at taking any dish and kicking up the flavor a notch. So for this I used fresh cilantro to brighten up the flavor. And while I was at it I added some fresh tomato, sauteed onion, spices, and sour cream for richness.
The result was a creamy and bright sauce that nobody would guess wasn’t completely homemade. Win.
There is no need to be precise in picking the leaves off your cilantro or cutting your onions or tomatoes to a certain size, because all of it is going to be liquified in a blender before you use it.
As soon as you have a beautiful, orange enchilada sauce on your hands, go ahead and preheat the oven to 375 degrees and get started on your filling. You can use any precooked chicken for this! This is a great place to use up any leftover roasted chicken or a rotisserie chicken from the store. I precooked a little over a pound of boneless skinless chicken breast for this and shredded it myself.
You can use the same pan you used to prepare the sauce to warm the filling. Over medium heat, combine the chicken, 2/3 cup of sauce, sour cream, cream cheese and cheese until you have a creamy filling you’ll want to eat straight out the pan. Resist that urge. I know you are strong enough, because I was and my will power is very weak haha!
Once the filling is warm, its time to assemble! Start by pouring enchilada sauce into the bottom of your pan. This is essential, so don’t forget it! About 1/4 inch should do the trick. Next, grab a tortilla, add a sprinkle of cheese and spoonful of chicken, wrap that bad boy up, and plop him in your dish, seam side down.
Once everything is all cozy in the pan, pour over the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. I like my enchiladas extra saucy, but if you prefer less, just scale it back to your liking.
Pop the enchiladas in the oven, and then start on your (totally optional) warm corn relish. I really like the freshness this added to the plate as a side dish, but the enchiladas could totally hold their own as a full meal.
Check the enchiladas at 25 minutes, they should be nearly ready. By 30, the sauce should be bubbling and the cheese browned in spots. If after 30 minutes the sauce looks perfect but the cheese isn’t there yet, switch the oven to broil and cook for about 2 minutes, watching carefully the entire time. Cheese can go from perfection to burnt disaster very quickly under the broiler.
This recipe could easily serve four. It is a delicious crowd-pleaser I hope you try sometime soon!
Chicken Enchiladas with Warm Corn Relish
Ingredients for Enchilada Sauce:
1 19 ounce can enchilada sauce
1 teaspoon oil (olive or canola would work best)
3/4 cup chopped white onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons sour cream
Chicken Filling Ingredients:
2 heaping cups of shredded chicken
2/3 cup reserved sauce
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1/3 cup shredded monterrey jack cheese
6-8 8-10 inch corn or flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese
Large baking dish
Directions for Enchiladas:
- Begin by making your sauce. In a skillet, add oil and warm over medium-high heat. Once hot, add your white onion and cook until it is slightly tender and begins to brown.
- Once the onions have reached that point, add chopped tomato, cilantro, salt, cumin, and garlic. Saute for one or two minutes, and remove from heat.
- In a blender, combine the canned enchilada sauce, the sauteed vegetables and spices, and the sour cream. Blend until smooth.
- Set aside 2/3 cup of the sauce, and keep the rest in the blender.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- In the same pan as used for the sauce, add the shredded chicken, reserved sauce, sour cream, and cream cheese. Stir over medium heat until cream cheese is melted in and sauce is a creamy orange color. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.
- Pour enchilada sauce into the bottom of the baking pan so that the bottom is completely covered by about 1/4 inch of sauce.
- Fill each tortilla with 1 tablespoon of cheese and a portion of the chicken mixture (1/4-1/3 of a cup). Roll the tortilla tightly and place in the baking dish, seam side down.
- Continue to do this until the pan is full and the chicken mixture is gone. Mine made 6 generously filled enchiladas.
- Top with remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned and sauce is bubbling.
- Serve hot with warm corn relish on the side.
Corn Relish Ingredients
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 cup minced green bell peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice of one lime
1 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Directions for Warm Corn Relish:
- Put oil in a medium sized skillet, and heat over medium high heat. Once hot, add the green pepper and cook until slightly tender.
- Add the corn to the green peppers (I used frozen because there was no fresh at the grocery store) and cook for a minute or two to warm
- To the mixture, add the salt, lime juice, sugar, apple cider vinegar, cumin, and garlic powder.
- Continue cooking over medium heat until the corn is cooked, then turn the heat up to high and do not stir for a minute or two to create some caramelization on the corn.
- Once the corn is slightly browned, remove to a bowl and keep warm for serving.