I have been meaning to post this recipe for ages but keep forgetting to take the “end shot” picture. It’s tough to sell a recipe without a photo, but I’m usually starving by the time I eat dinner and have zero patience for a photo shoot. These chicken enchiladas are amazing. I love that Cook’s Illustrated always takes the time to perfect their recipes so that I don’t have to. I grew up eating enchiladas served with sauce from a can. I don’t know about you, but once I see something that is canned, I am overwhelmed by the idea of trying to make it from scratch. When I saw how simple the recipe and ingredients were for a homemade enchilada sauce, I knew that I had to try these. The method for making these is a little unorthodox, but the results are well worth it.Even with Cook’s Illustrated perfection, I still had to tinker with the recipe to suit my tastes. I am a pansy when it comes to spiciness, so the first time I ate these I thought I would never have full use of my taste buds again. The next time I made them, I cut the amount of chili powder and diced chilis in half. I’ve listed a spice range below so that you can tailor it to your particular tastes. The original recipe calls for diced jalapenos, but these were over-the-top hot for me, so I opted for a couple ounces roasted poblano peppers instead. The original recipe also calls for chicken thighs, but since I don’t often have those on hand I prefer to use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. If I don’t have any of that on hand either, chicken breasts will work in a pinch, but it’s tough to get the same “enchilada” texture with huge chunks of chicken breast meat.If you are planning on making these ahead of time, don’t assemble them until right before you cook them. If you like a crispier enchilada, turn on the broiler for the last couple minutes of cooking. If you do this, watch your enchiladas carefully to ensure they do not burn.
adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3 medium cloves of garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
2-3 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp granulated sugar
2-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken meat
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2-4 oz diced roasted poblano chili peppers (or 2-4 oz pickled jalapenos, drained and chopped)
1/2 cup corn kernels, optional
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
10 corn tortillas
sour cream, cheese, avocado, lettuce, and limes to taste
Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, salt, and sugar; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add tomato sauce and 3/4 cup water. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until flavors have melded, about 5 minutes. Put the cooked chicken in a large bowl and pour 1 cup of the tomato mixture over the chicken pieces; stir well to combine. Set the remaining sauce aside. To the chicken mixture add cilantro, roasted poblano chili peppers or jalapenos, corn, and most of the cheese (saving a little to sprinkle on top of the enchiladas before cooking).
Adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.
Heat tortillas in a non-stick frying pan until pliable and fill with a tablespoon or two of the chicken mixture. Roll the tortilla closed, place seam side down in your 8×11 or 9×13 pan, and repeat until you’ve used all the filling. Pour the sauce over the enchiladas. Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired.
Bake enchiladas on lower-middle rack until heated through and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and serve immediately, passing sour cream, avocado, lettuce, and lime wedges separately.