Layered Chicken Enchiladas & Spanish Rice
I am the luckiest. For my (30th!) birthday, my girlfriend made me some absolutely addictive enchiladas. And I ate way too many of them for dinner that night. And for dinner the next night. And for lunch the day after that. (This pretty much finished them off.)
They weren’t all that time-consuming to make, either. I say this despite the fact that in the middle of cooking, my girlfriend posted about me on Facebook: “For someone who’s so hungry, we’re pausing a lot to take pictures for her blog.”
Yes, as a new food blogger, I’m starting to realize that taking photos slows things down. Sometimes a lot. In fact, I can feel downright torn when I’m hungry (which is usually) between taking one more slightly-better-but-nearly-identical photo and just digging in.
But a little anticipation never hurt anybody. In fact, anticipation sometimes adds an extra hint of seasoning to an already flavorful meal. It’s why I actually prefer it when the food I’ve just ordered at a restaurant doesn’t immediately appear at the table. Come to think of it, anticipation is one reason I often choose the same entrée every time I visit several of my favorite restaurants.*
At any rate, these enchiladas were worth the wait. That said, we will definitely NOT be waiting all the way until another event as momentous as a 30th birthday to make them again.
* Daniel Gilbert, in his book “Stumbling on Happiness,” has a chapter that explains why this is true for so many people; apparently returning again and again to the same menu item makes us happier! (Therefore, many of my favorite restaurants are not so much my favorite restaurants as the locations where I can eat one or two of my favorite dishes.)
~ 1-2 cups long-grained white rice
~ 2-3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or use water and ~2 Tbsp. of your favorite type of bouillon)
~ ½ a yellow onion, roughly chopped or diced **
~ 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed (not sliced)
~ 2-3 Tbsp. tomato paste
~ 2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
~ 1 tsp. salt
How to make it:
1. Heat oil in a large deep frying pan, and fry the onions and garlic over medium high heat until browned.
2. Add rice and continue frying until the rice is golden, stirring frequently.
3. Pour in the broth until it covers the rice by about half an inch. Then add salt and the tomato paste, and stir.
4. Cover and lower the heat to simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until rice is fluffy.
** My girlfriend likes the flavor– but not the texture– of onions. She keeps them only roughly chopped so she can easily avoid them later, but diced onion would work well in this recipe, too, if you prefer.
Layered Chicken Enchiladas
For the Chicken:
~ an approximately 16-oz. package of chicken breast and/or thigh meat
~ ½ a yellow onion, roughly chopped
~ 1 Tbsp. salt
~ pinch of black pepper
For the Enchiladas:
~ 12-13 small corn tortillas
~ 1 cup corn, canola, or vegetable oil for frying the tortillas
~ a 28 oz. can red enchilada sauce (like Las Palmas)
~ 12 oz. (or about 1½ – 2 cups) shredded cheese of your choice (we used a colby-jack blend)
~ 4-5 scallions, chopped
~ ½ cup each other enchilada fillings of your choice, e.g., bell pepper, onion, beans, or black olives
How to make it:
(You can either roll them like traditional enchiladas or layer them like lasagna, as described here.)
1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Bake or boil the chicken. To bake: place in a baking dish, season with salt and pepper, and bake for about 20 minutes or until juice runs clear when cut. To boil: add the chicken, onions, and salt to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and let it cook uncovered, over medium high heat for about 15 minutes, periodically skimming the fat. Once it’s fully cooked, remove chicken from hot water, and sprinkle with ground black pepper.
3. Let the cooked and seasoned chicken cool down enough to shred it (using either forks or your hands). If you’re making rice too, a good time to start it is while you’re waiting for the chicken to cool.
4. Fry the tortillas: use a small or mid-sized frying pan or sauce pan, big enough to fully immerse a corn tortilla. Add the oil and turn the heat up high. While oil is heating, pour the enchilada sauce into a large bowl, and prepare an approximately 9×9″ square baking dish/casserole pan. Once the oil is hot, place a tortilla in the oil, it should be hot enough to slightly crisp up the tortilla in 5-10 seconds. (If it takes longer, it’s not hot enough; if the tortilla browns quickly, it’s too hot.) An apron is advisable. You want the tortilla to crisp up slightly, yet still be able to fold or bend.
5. Once you crisp each tortilla, dip it briefly into the bowl to coat it in enchilada sauce***, then layer it into your baking dish. Crisp and dip enough tortillas to cover the bottom of the dish (we used four). Once you’ve completed a layer of tortillas, add a layer of shredded chicken, top with cheese, drizzle with enchilada sauce, and sprinkle with chopped scallions. Then continue layering (crisped and dipped) tortillas, chicken, cheese, sauce, and scallions, until you reach the final layer of tortillas on top, then garnish with a bit more cheese and scallions.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese and tortillas on top are bubbly and crispy. Serve warm with rice.
*** Be careful not to let any enchilada sauce get into the hot oil, or it will splatter (i.e., use separate utensils for tortillas when in the oil and when in the sauce).