Chicken Enchiladas

If you’ve only used canned sauce from the grocery store to make enchiladas, then you are in for a world of surprises with this recipe.  The flavor totally wowed me.  I would go so far as to say this was better than any enchiladas I’ve ever had a restaurant.  I couldn’t get enough of these, and just thinking about it now makes me wish I hadn’t already devoured the leftovers for lunch today.  The recipe originally came from America’s Test Kitchen – so there should be no doubt left in your mind as to the deliciousness that this dinner holds.  (Oh how I love you America’s Test Kitchen.)

This is a simple recipe, but I’ll be honest and tell you it isn’t the quickest.  But without a doubt the slightly increased effort is more than worth it.  It’s really not tough to make at all, but trying to whip this up on a busy weeknight wouldn’t be my first choice.  You’ll need about 25-30 minutes of prep and cooking time, then it needs to bake for about 30 minutes.  In my opinion, it’s a miniscule investment for the return you’ll get.  Just believe me when I say that you need to try this – soon.

You can easily serve 6 people with this recipe, and even though the ingredient list may look a little long, it’s pretty basic stuff, most of it is probably in your pantry right now.  So this is one of those rare recipes where making it at home is not only less expensive, it tastes even better!

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce
serves 6
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon canola oil
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons sugar
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups extra sharp white cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup cilantro, minced, plus more for sprinkling on top
12 6″ corn tortillas
cooking spray
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Combine onion, jalapeno, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oil in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Cover and cook on medium low heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar; cook 30 seconds.  Stir in tomato sauce and water.  Simmer 5 minutes, uncovered.  
Nestle chicken breasts in sauce, reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees, about 12-20 minutes.  (This will vary depending on the thickness of your chicken and the temperature of your simmer.)  Remove chicken from sauce and set aside.  
Using a fine mesh strainer, strain sauce into a medium bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon to remove all liquid.  Place solids left in the strainer into a large bowl.  
Season sauce with salt and pepper.  
Shred chicken with two forks.  Add it to the large bowl with the solids from the strainer, along with 1/4 cup sauce from the other bowl.  
 Add 1 cup cheese and cilantro to the chicken mixture.  Toss well to combine.
Wrap tortillas in plastic wrap and microwave for 30-45 seconds.  
Spread tortillas out on a clean work surface and spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture down the center of each.  Roll up and place seam side down in a greased 9×11 baking dish.  Lightly spray with cooking spray.  Bake uncovered for 5-7 minutes to make tortillas crunchy.  
Remove from oven and reduce heat to 400 degrees.  Pour sauce evenly over enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  
Need a perfect side dish for these enchiladas?  Try Grilled Corn with Cilantro and Lime, here.
adapted from Pink Parsley Catering, originally from America’s Test Kitchen

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  1. Life is Sweet says

    I love love Enchiladas , last night I made these and WOW!!!! I did change a few things since my daughter won't eat things that are spicy but they were wonderful! Thank you I love seeing what new recipes I can try out on the family!

  2. Qtcop0121 says

    OK first let me say I am NOT a chef… I am just really learning how to cook (my husband has done most of the cooking) so this recipe took me a long time to do. BUT…. it was SOOOOOOOOOOOO delicious, I was amazed! It was better than restaurant quality and I even brought leftovers for lunch today YAY!!

  3. Chinazhoumom says

    Love your posts – I made this – this week – and used the packaged cooked chicken and the rotel tomato (can) – that was the sauce – black beans – cheese – with flour tortillas-etc yummy yummy –
    thanks for all the great receipes!!!
    Carol in FL

  4. tamilyn says

    I always have a hard time with the corn tortillas. I know some people plop them in the sauce and that makes them bendy,some cook a few seconds on each side in a skillet. I'll try it again and use the microwave

  5. Lauren says

    I'd like to mention that you should wear gloves when cutting the jalapenos.

    I never cook with jalapenos, so I didn't know this, and my hands feel like they are ON FIRE.

    Great recipe, though! It took longer than I usually spend on weeknight means, but it was delicious.

  6. Katie says

    Wonder if these could be made ahead and frozen….that would make it much easier for a weeknight meal!


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