March 19, 2013 § 4 Comments
My first job was working in the kitchen of a mexican restaurant my neighbor owned. It was a tiny little place call El Burro. The place was chockfull from the time the doors were unlocked until the closed sign was turned. The owner would spend all day making tamales and she was the person out front serving tables and collecting the cash. There were only two of us in the kitchen. The cook and me. I was the dishwasher! This was quite an experience for a 15 year old. Yes, I was only 15! It was a summer job. I got to the point where I would show up early just so I could watch and learn how to prepare the frijoles. Everything was made from scratch. I enjoyed watching him stuff the chile rellenos, roll the enchiladas and prep all the fresh sideline (my made up word) condiments. He prepared his own enchilada sauce. I loved it so much I could drink it! It had an orange hue to it. And for years I would always wonder how he made it. I have not tried to make my own enchilada sauce, however, I have found one pretty close to the one he made. It’s Hatch. I buy the medium spiced one. It is orange and it is delicious! At El Burro he placed shredded iceberg lettuce and a dollop of mashed avocado on the side of the plate. Knowing the nutritional value is higher in the darker lettuces, I usually avoid iceberg. Except when I make enchiladas. The flavor takes me back to when I was a kid. My mom made iceberg lettuce salads with thousand island dressing. Since we don’t use the whole head of iceberg with the enchiladas, a few days later, I end up making a salad with it and mixing up some 1000 island! For the tortillas, I have used both corn and flour. I think either one is good.
The ingredient list appears a little lengthy. It’s a very easy process once you get it all together.
What you will need for this dish:
- 2 chicken breasts
- little olive oil
- 1 onion any color, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/2 serrano pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili powder, or more to your liking
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 lime
- 4 oz. shredded cheese, cheddar/jack blend
- 1/4 brick of cotija cheese
- 1 -15 oz. can chopped black olives
- 1-15 oz. can enchilada sauce-Hatch!
- bunch scallions, chopped
- bunch cilantro, finely chopped
- sprinkling of salt / pepper
- 10-12 good quality corn or flour tortillas
- 2 avocados, smashed
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
- cup of sour cream or greek yogurt (optional)
For the chicken. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Add the chicken breast. Fully cook and brown the chicken great 5-7 minutes each side. Remove chicken to a cutting surface, let cool. Keep the olive oil/chicken bits concoction in the skillet.
While the chicken is cooking…
If you have one, use a food processor and chop the onion, garlic and serrano all together. Otherwise, dice, press and chop them. Using the same skillet the chicken was cooked in, cook onion mixture over medium high heat. Cook for 5 minutes until aromatic. Turn heat down to low.
Meanwhile, chop the chicken into small broken bits. Add chicken to the skillet, turn up heat to med high and mix well with the onions. Add chili, cumin, oregano, and smoked paprika. Mix and coat well. Squeeze the juice from 1/2 lime on top, mix in well. Salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes I end up adding more spices. Especially chili powder after tasting. Turn off heat.
For the tortillas. Warm another non stick skillet on medium low heat. Heat each individual tortilla until warm and soft. Keep them on the side in a kitchen cloth. For a quicker, easier heating method, place your tortillas in enough foil to completely cover, sprinkle a few water droplets on top and place in 350° oven for 10 minutes. Water droplets keep tortillas moist.
Bring your shredded cheese, chopped olives, chopped scallions and cilantro to your work area.
Rolling your enchiladas. Using one tortilla at a time, layer two large tablespoons chicken, sprinkle cheese, olives, cilantro and scallions on top and roll. Place the rolled enchilada, open side down, onto a 9 x 12 baking dish. Continue the process until you have 8-10 enchiladas packed in tight. Pour enchilada sauce over the top drenching them all. Top with the left over olives, cilantro, scallions and a sprinkling of Cotijta cheese. Cover with foil, bake 30 minutes in a 350° oven.
Uncover and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with shredded lettuce, spoonful of smashed avocado and a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt.
Serves 4 generously