Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated every year on May 5th. That’s the date way back in 1862 that the Mexican army fought France during the Franco-Mexican war and won. Quite a feat, since the French troops far outnumbered the Mexicans. 

Parades, parties, music, dancing and, of course, food mark the occasion. Mexican culture and heritage are woven into colorful meals enjoyed by family and friends.  

For your fiesta, I’ve got some family favorites. Chicken enchiladas top the list. Add in sides of Mexican rice and spicy black beans and you’ve got a complete meal.  

I didn’t forget about dessert. How about Mexican chocolate sauce scented with cinnamon and your very own dessert tortillas? Get ready for lots of “Esta delicioso” and “Gracias!” 

CHICKEN AND BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS 

Yield: 5-6 servings 

Ingredients 

  • 1¼ pounds boneless, skinless, chicken — I like a combo of thighs and breasts, diced or cut into thin slices 
  • 4 thick slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (leave drippings in skillet) 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 24 oz. jar picante sauce 
  • 16 oz. black beans, drained, rinsed, and drained again 
  • 1 red, yellow, orange or green bell pepper, diced 
  • 1 generous teaspoon cumin or more to taste — I usually add more  
  • Salt to taste 
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced thin 
  • 10-12 soft flour tortillas, 6” size 
  • 16 oz. Mexican cheese blend, shredded 

Garnish: Tomato, cheese, cilantro 

Instructions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  1. Cook chicken and garlic in bacon drippings over medium heat until chicken is cooked.  
  1. Stir in ½ cup picante sauce, beans, bell pepper, cumin, and salt.   
  1. Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally.   
  1. Stir in green onions and bacon. Taste and add more picante sauce, cumin, etc., if desired. 
  1. Spoon about ¼-1/3 cup down center of each tortilla and sprinkle on a heaping 2 tablespoons cheese.   
  1. Roll up and place seam side down in a sprayed 9×13 casserole.   
  1. Pour the rest of the picante sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.   
  1. Tent with foil and bake until hot throughout, about 30 minutes or so.   
  1. Serve topped with garnishes.   
chicken-enchiladas
Chicken and black bean enchiladas

Tips:  

  • Sub in rotisserie chicken and stir in with the garlic as it cooks. 
  • Add some frozen shoe peg corn with the beans. 
  • Spice it up! Add finely diced jalapeno or serrano peppers. 
  • Ground cumin stays flavorful three months or so stored in a cool place away from light. Whole seeds last close to a year.  

Make it ahead! 

Prepare recipe up to a day ahead. Let filling mixture cool a bit before filling tortillas. 

Prepare up to the point of placing in sprayed casserole. 

Cover and refrigerate. 

Continue with recipe. You may have to bake it longer than 30 minutes. 

CHICKEN ENCHILADAS WITH TWO CHEESES AND CILANTRO 

Yield: 6-8 servings 

I first tasted these yummy chicken enchiladas when friend and creative cook, Carolyn, made them for a Cinco de Mayo dinner party. Everyone asked for the recipe! 

Another go-to tasty recipe. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup sweet onion, diced 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • Olive or other oil — enough to film bottom of pan 
  • 2 cups finely chopped spinach 
  • 8 oz. or so canned chopped green chiles, drained 
  • 3 heaping cups cooked chicken, shredded 
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, cubed  
  • 8 oz. shredded pepper Jack cheese or Mexican blend 
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 8 soft flour tortillas, 8” each 
  • Cooking spray 
  • Optional but nice: an additional heaping cup or so shredded cheese to top enchiladas during baking 

Instructions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  1. Cook onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until onion is tender. 
  1. Add spinach and chiles and cook until spinach wilts. 
  1. Stir in chicken, cream cheese, Jack cheese, and cilantro. Cook until cheeses melt. 
  1. Add salt and pepper.  
  1. Spoon about ¾ cup chicken mixture down center of each tortilla, roll up and place, seam side down, in sprayed 13×9 casserole.  
  1. Spray tortillas with a light coating of cooking spray. This helps them brown. 
  1. Bake 30 minutes or so until golden brown. 

Note: If you’re adding the additional cheese, sprinkle it on about 5 minutes before enchiladas are done. 

Coriander seeds and cilantro leaves
Salsa? Cilantro? Yes, please! 

Have bowls of tomatillo and tomato salsas, along with chopped cilantro for garnishes. 

Tips: 

  • When chopping cilantro, leave stems on. They are always tender.  
  • Cilantro and coriander: what’s the difference? Both come from the same plant. Cilantro is the leafy green part and coriander is the seed.  

GOOD SIDES FOR ENCHILADAS 

chicken-enchiladas
Chicken enchilada with spicy black beans and Mexican rice.

SPICY BLACK BEANS 

This is a “no recipe” recipe! Just cook a small diced onion and a couple large cloves garlic in a bit of oil until onions are soft. Add cumin to taste. Start out with a teaspoon. Add some finely diced jalapeno or a shake of red pepper flakes if you want some heat. Stir in two cans black beans, drained, rinsed, and drained again if you like (or just leave undrained) and salt to taste. Cook a few minutes until beans are hot. Serve with a shower of cilantro. 

CUMIN-FLAVORED RICE PILAF 

Yield: 6-8 servings  

Coating the rice with oil, along with the aromatics, prevents it from becoming soggy. This makes a good amount of rice, which we love. Feel free to divide the recipe in half. 

Ingredients 

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1½ to 2 cups chopped onion 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 teaspoons cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder blend 
  • 2 cups long grain rice 
  • 4 cups chicken broth, low fat, low sodium  
  • 1-2 jalapeño chilies, minced, or 1 can, about 4 oz., green chilies chopped (optional) 
  • Salt to taste  

Instructions 

  1. Heat oil over medium heat. 
  1. Add onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder and rice. Sauté until rice is almost translucent.  
  1. Add broth. Stir and cover and bring to a boil.  
  1. Lower to simmer. Cook, covered, about 20 minutes or until rice is tender.   
  1. Add chiles and stir. Add salt and adjust seasonings. 

MEXICAN CHOCOLATE SAUCE 

Yield: About 3 cups 
Mexican chocolate sauce

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup whipping cream 
  • 2 cups chocolate chips 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon cinnamon 

Instructions 

  1. Bring cream to a boil over medium heat. Turn to low and slowly add chips and cinnamon, whisking constantly until melted and smooth.  
  1. Remove from heat, add vanilla and stir.  
  1. Serve warm. Store in refrigerator and warm to serve.  

Tip: 

  • Serve with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon tortilla chips! 

To make cinnamon tortilla chips: cut corn tortillas into wedges, fry in 1” of hot oil until golden. Drain, then shake a mixture of sugar and cinnamon onto the chips (about ½ teaspoon or so to ¼ cup granulated sugar).  

Originally published in the April/May 2022 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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