One of the many joys that summertime brings is the ability to cook food over an open flame, outdoors. I know you can grill year-round, and I sometimes do, but it's just not the same. However, for as much as I love grilled food, I find myself longing for more fall-friendly food as the summer draws to a close. I crave things roasted and braised. Stews and long-simmered pasta sauces come to mind when I'm hit with pangs of hunger. A dish that falls right in the sweet spot of this category of cooler-weather cuisine is enchiladas. I made the ever-popular version with chicken but also decided to make a second batch with spinach and mushrooms, as those ingredients had been languishing in the back of the refrigerator.
Enchiladas are not something I make often and I don't know why. In essence, it's a very simple dish. It's stuff, wrapped in a tortilla, baked with sauce & cheese. The process is not very complicated but the sauce can make or break your enchiladas. You can buy premade enchilada sauce in a can but you can make a very good sauce, quickly, with ingredients you most like have kicking around in your kitchen. If you pay attention to a couple of details, it will ensure that you maximize the flavor out of your ingredients.
As for the fillings, I suppose you could fill it with any number of things. I used rotisserie chicken meat that I shredded up. If you have left over chicken or turkey, this is a great use for it. You could just use cheese or sauteed vegetables. Just make sure your filling is seasoned nicely and if it's dry, mix in a bit of sauce and cheese to keep it moist and delicious.
There are many versions of enchiladas. Some use a cream sauce instead of a red chile-tomato-based sauce. Do you have a favorite style?
CHICKEN ENCHILADAS / SPINACH & MUSHROOM ENCHILADAS
Ingredients: shredded meat from 2 cooked chicken breasts, 2 cups sliced mushrooms, 1 bag of spinach, 1 small chopped red onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 lb of shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 24 corn tortillas, enchilada sauce (recipe below), olive oil, non-stick spray
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Make sure your chicken meat is seasoned nicely and also add a a couple of tablespoons of sauce and mix well, set aside.
- In a saute pan, heat 2 TB of olive oil until it just begins to smoke.
- Add mushrooms and onions right away, toss to coat and then leave alone.
- Do not add salt to the mushrooms at this point. It will draw out too much water and you they won't brown.
- Leave the mushrooms for a 2-3 minutes until they get brown. Then toss every couple of minutes until they are cooked and nicely browned.
- Then season with salt & pepper.
- Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Add the spinach and saute until it is completely wilted.
- Season with salt & pepper and set aside to cool.
- On a large sheet pan, lay out the tortillas in a single layer and spray with cooking spray on both sides. Then heat them in the oven until they are pliable.
- Do this in batches as you assemble the enchiladas.
- In a baking dish, ladle enough enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.
- To assembe, layout a tortilla and place a couple of TBs of the filling (chicken or spinahc & mushrooms) on the bottom third of the tortilla.
- Sprinkle with cheese.
- Roll up tightly and lay it in the baking dish, seam-side down.
- Continue assembling until the dish is full.
- For this batch you may need more than 1 baking dish.
- Ladle some more sauce on top of the enchiladas over the center.
- Top with with cheese.
- Bake in the oven until the cheese has melted and the filling is heated through.
Ingredients: 1-28 oz can of whole peeled
, 1 sliced
, 4 thinly-sliced cloves of
, 2 TB
, 2 tsp
, 1 cup
salt & pepper
- In a saucepan, heat 3 TB of olive oil until it begins to smoke.
- Add sliced onions and saute until they get very brown. It's important to make sure you develop good color on the onions.
- Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute.
- Add the chili powder and cumin and continue to cook for another minute.
- Add the can of tomatoes and their juice.
- Simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender (or regular blender) to puree the sauce.
- Add the chicken broth and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
- The consistency should be thinner that spaghetti sauce.