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Enchiladus Interruptus August 4, 2009

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, random stuff.

You may recall how I planned a couple of vacation days last week – I planned to see the dentist Thursday morning, sort of kick back that afternoon, making  some lovely, lovely enchiladas and Mexican rice, then do . . . something (or nothing) Friday.  And you may also recall that, well, my grand plans went awry.

First, my dentist’s appointment was at 8 in the morning.  I do try to schedule these things for as early in the day as possible; that way it’s done and out of the way, and I don’t have to look forward to it all day.  Hey, it makes sense to me, anyway.

So.  I came home from the dentist’s office feeling much . . . lousier than I’d anticipated.  However, one of the things I’d planned for my “vacation” was enchiladas – and I was going to make them,  and that was that!   So while the dog was napping, I dragged my sorry butt up off the couch and got started.

This recipe takes a bit of time to put together – not something I can do on a weeknight, and, lately, weekends have been too busy to want to do this much screwing around, too.  Of course, the recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated, so what do I expect, right?


Start with one medium onion, finely chopped (or as finely chopped as you have the patience for when there’s a giant dog under your feet), and place in a medium saucepan with a little bit of vegetable oil and a little salt (1/2 teaspoon of each).

Stir to combine, and cover and cook over medium low heat until the onions are nicely softened – 8 to 10 minutes.  You don’t want to brown the onions here, you just want to sweat them.

Meanwhile, mince 3 cloves of garlic (I just shoved it through the garlic press) and measure out the following spices:


  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. sugar

And yes, I’m pretty sure sugar isn’t really a “spice.”   But we’re going to treat it like one for now.

Add the garlic and spices to the softened onion mixture and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds, like so:


Then add 2-8 ounce cans (or 1 15 ounce can) of tomato SAUCE along with 1 cup of water, and stir well.  Bring the mixture up to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes – it should start to thicken a bit.


Once that happens, you’re just going to want to throw in your chicken – about a pound, or two decent-sized breasts.  I used two halves of a ginormous mutant freak breast, or about 3/4 of a pound, and it was perfectly fine, but in the end, I didn’t have enough filling for all 12 tortillas.  Next time, I’d go ahead and use a whole pound of meat, or maybe even supplement the chicken with some beans.  Is that even done?

Where was I?

You’re going to want to cook the chicken right in the sauce – just reduce the heat to “low” and simmer about 10-12 minutes, until the temperature of the chicken registers 160° on an instant-read thermometer.

You DO have an instant-read thermometer or two, don’t you?  Peeps’s preference is the nifty digital thermometer I picked up at Sam’s a few years back, but I always reach for my old-school analog thermometer.  Either way, an instant-read thermometer is invaluable in the kitchen!


Once the chicken is done, we’re going to do two things.   First, remove it from the sauce and set aside, to be shredded once it’s cooked enough to handle.  There’s no rush here – Mexican food is evidently supposed to take all day!

Then just take the sauce and strain it into a separate bowl.  We’re straining all the solids and junk out – the  diced onion, garlic, any bits of chicken that may have fallen off – but don’t make the mistake I almost made and throw the, uh, junk out!  Luckily, I caught myself mid-dump right in the middle of dumping the strainer and saved most of it!


In the saucepan I had used to cook the sauce, I dumped the strained bits, the shredded chicken, a scant half cup of the smooth sauce, 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, and about 1/4 cup of chopped jalapeños – the pickled kind, not the fresh kind.  Though I don’t see why you couldn’t use the fresh peppers if they were available.

Also, add a bunch of minced cilantro – 1/2 a cup or so – if you’d like.  I don’t like cilantro, so I don’t.

Now we’re ready to roll.  And by roll, I mean roll the enchiladas.  Heh.


This recipe should make 6 servings – 2 enchiladas per serving, or a total of 12 enchiladas.  I don’t know what happened, whether I used THAT MUCH less chicken, or maybe it was the bit of strained stuff I accidentally threw out, or if I over-stuffed my enchiladas (which might account for the trouble I had rolling them!), but I only got 9.

I heated 6 corn tortillas on a paper plate, covered with damp paper towels,  in the microwave for about 30 seconds – just enough to warm them and make them pliable, but not so much as to make them crispy – crispy doesn’t roll so well.

Place 1/3 cup (scant) of filling evenly down the center of a tortilla, and roll it gently around the filling, placing seam side down in the pan.


Repeat. And repeat some more.  Probably by the time you get to tortilla number 8 or 9, you’ll really be starting to feel comfortable with the whole process!

I placed our enchiladas into two pans – one for now and one for the freezer.  In a perfect world, there would have been two pans of 6.  In my less-than-perfect world, I froze a pan of 5, and kept out a pan of 4.  Oh well.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the rolled and placed enchiladas in the pan(s), doing your best to cover any exposed edges of corn tortilla.  Obviously, if you’re using two pans, you’re going to divide the sauce between them.  Obviously.


Sprinkle a second cup of shredded cheese over the whole mess (again with the dividing thing, if necessary!), then cover with a sheet of aluminum foil (ideally sprayed with Pam or the like).

PhotobucketAt this point, it was time to take the dog for his walk, then to the vet.  The PLAN was to come home from the vet and make the Mexican rice to go with the enchiladas.  But, as I’ve noted, my plans have a way of going awry sometimes, and we had just enough time to dump some white rice in the rice cooker, throw the covered pan in a 400° oven, and bake for half an hour.

Uncover, and continue baking 5-10 minutes longer, until the cheese on top starts to brown, then let set for 15 minutes or so before serving.

We, unfortunately, did not have the time to properly enjoy what was, truly, a remarkable dish, before we needed to go back out and reclaim our poor, doped-up puppy.

PhotobucketHe’d missed his dinner, the poor thing, and he wasn’t at all interested in standing to eat.

Or even in cheese.

I was able to persuade him to at least take the pills the vet gave us for pain – a little peanut butter can persuade even the sorriest, tiredest puppy . . .

And he did manage to gnaw on one of his favorite, extra-special Greenies treats before he finally gave up for the night.



1. Melinda - August 4, 2009

Darn I thought my mom was the only one to use sugar in the sauce mix.lol that sounded really good if it was for not all the work i would make them soon, we more then likely will not be having enchiladas in our near future ( i might opt for the lazy way in the skillet.) also i told you already we NEVER ate chicken so my mom put turkey, venison or beef in her ‘s and some times just cheese and onions…

Toy Lady - August 4, 2009

Hey, Melinda!

You know, those Cook’s Illustrated people – they have their ways!

And yes, it’s a FREAKING lot of work, too! Which is why, next time I make them (in another year or two, most likely), I’m going to double the recipe and freeze a BOATLOAD – it’s kind of like manicotti – it’s SO good, but SO much work – if you’re going to do it, do it big!

Or, as my husband likes to say, anything worth doing is worth overdoing!

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