When it comes to Mexican cuisine, I love to pull inspiration from my favorite dishes back home in south Texas. If I think hard enough I can truly taste the flavors from some of my go to restaurants. I can taste the chicken and the tacos and the enchiladas in my mind. So I build on top of those flavors I remember and then put my own spin on a dish.
My love for Mexican food started long long ago when I was just a little girl. I think what is so wonderful about Mexican cuisine is that you can taste the layers of flavors with every bite. There’s always tons of spice and multiple elements involved. I think a good enchilada really is all about the filling. It all starts with the inside. Many Mexican restaurants don’t do much to their chicken filling, which leaves me with feeling unsatisfied. I like to go heavy on the spice and add in different textures, such as onions and peppers. This insures that every bite packs a punch. The sauce is next. Whether it’s a red sauce, green sauce, or cheese sauce… I think it’s important to choose your elements wisely. A lot of spices go into this particular enchilada sauce which help create a velvet smooth and flavorful topping.
When it comes to Mexican food, I think it’s so important to take the time and never skimp on the cheese or the spices involved. It’s the spices that help build the layers of flavors. When I take a bite of an enchilada, I want my taste buds to explode. I almost want to be overwhelmed and wondering, “How do they make it this good?” It takes a bit of time to make these enchiladas.. but the time it takes is worth it to get that “taste bud explosion”. By the time you’re sitting down eating them, you’ll understand why it’s important to be patient and put in the effort. These enchiladas are worth every minute in the kitchen.
I have a lot of other Mexican recipes that I’ll link below. You can make some guacamole or my white queso to serve on the side. They would go perfectly with this dish.
CHEESY CHICKEN ENCHILADAS WITH RED SAUCE
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
INGREDIENTS for SPICE MIXTURE:
1.5 tbsp salt
2 tbsp hot chili powder
1 tbsp ancho chili powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Mix together all the spices in a bowl. Set aside 5 tbsp for enchilada sauce. Use the remaining spice on the chicken filling mixture. (See directions below).
INGREDIENTS for ENCHILADA SAUCE:
5 tbsp spice mixture (see recipe above)
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp olive oil
2 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
Heat a tall sided pan to medium high heat. Add in olive oil, spice mixture and flour. Whisk together for 2 minutes while the mixture is slightly bubbling.
Add in chicken broth 1 cup at a time while continuing to whisk. The mixture will begin to thicken. Once all the chicken broth has been added, add in the tomato paste. Whisk to combine.
Turn off heat and set aside.
INGREDIENTS for ENCHILADAS:
3 chicken breast, cute in half lengthwise
1/2 large white onion, small dice
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped leaves and stems
4 oz. canned diced jalapeños
2 cups shredded monterrey jack cheese
3 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place chicken halves on a baking sheet and cover with olive oil and spice mixture. Make sure each side of the chicken is coated.
Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and shred the chicken with two forks.
Add white onion, cilantro, jalapeños and monterrey jack cheese to the shredded chicken. Mix together on the same baking sheet that the chicken was cooked on. By doing so, you will be able to mix in all the good juices and spices left on the pan from the chicken. (I recommend using your hands to mix). Set aside mixture till ready to assemble enchiladas.
INGREDIENTS for TORTILLAS:
1/3 cup vegetable oil
16 corn tortillas
In a shallow pan add vegetable oil and heat to 350 degrees.
Add in one tortilla at a time and cook 4-5 seconds per side. Drain tortillas on paper towels. By flash frying them, this will make the tortillas more durable when stuffing the enchiladas. Repeat till all tortillas are done. Turn off heat and set aside.
INGREDIENTS for ASSEMBLY:
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Enchilada sauce (see directions above)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place about 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce on a 10×12 baking dish.
Using tongs, take a tortilla and dip both sides in the enchilada sauce. Set dipped tortilla on a plate and fill with a couple tbsp of the chicken filling. Roll up and place in the baking dish. Repeat till the pan is full.
Cover enchiladas with the remaining sauce. Heavily sprinkle with cheddar cheese on top.
Place dish into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Let cool for 10 minutes once out of the oven. Serve warm with extra chopped cilantro.