Enchiladas - 2 ways: chicken, spinach & mushroom
Chicken_enchiladaspinach_mushr

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

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Make sure your chicken meat is seasoned nicely and also add a a couple of tablespoons of sauce and mix well, set aside.
  3. In a saute pan, heat 2 TB of olive oil until it just begins to smoke.
  4. Add mushrooms and onions right away, toss to coat and then leave alone.
  5. Do not add salt to the mushrooms at this point. It will draw out too much water and you they won't brown.
  6. 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.
  7. Then season with salt & pepper.
  8. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute.
  9. Add the spinach and saute until it is completely wilted. 
  10. Season with salt & pepper and set aside to cool.
  11. 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.
  12. Do this in batches as you assemble the enchiladas.
  13. In a baking dish, ladle enough enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.
  14. 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. 
  15. Sprinkle with cheese.
  16. Roll up tightly and lay it in the baking dish, seam-side down.
  17. Continue assembling until the dish is full. 
  18. For this batch you may need more than 1 baking dish.
  19. Ladle some more sauce on top of the enchiladas over the center.
  20. Top with with cheese.
  21. Bake in the oven until the cheese has melted and the filling is heated through.

ENCHILADA SAUCE

Ingredients: 1-28 oz can of whole peeled

tomatoes

, 1 sliced

onion

, 4 thinly-sliced cloves of

garlic

, 2 TB

chili powder

, 2 tsp

cumin

, 1 cup

chicken broth

,

olive oil

,

salt & pepper

  1. In a saucepan, heat 3 TB of olive oil until it begins to smoke.
  2. Add sliced onions and saute until they get very brown. It's important to make sure you develop good color on the onions.
  3. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chili powder and cumin and continue to cook for another minute.
  5. Add the can of tomatoes and their juice.
  6. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  7. Use an immersion blender (or regular blender) to puree the sauce.
  8. Add the chicken broth and cook for an additional 10 minutes. 
  9. The consistency should be thinner that spaghetti sauce.