Things I learned while making enchiladas last night, on the eve of inauguration:
1. Enchiladas will never look that good in a photograph.
2. Enchiladas take at least 3-4 times as long to make as the recipe indicates.
3. Enchiladas are Barack Obama’s favorite food.
Okay, so number three isn’t really true, but who knows — it could be. After all, enchiladas are delicious, and particularly these enchiladas, from the Pink Adobe Restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a place I grew up going every summer. This is another one of my mom’s standbys, and it is certainly worth all the time and effort involved. The end result are incredibly creamy chicken enchiladas that — thanks to the abundant sour cream and cheddar cheese — literally do melt in your mouth. A homemade green chile (the cookbook spells it “chile,” so who am I to argue?) sauce lends a touch of pep and acidity. The whole thing is a dish to be proud of.
Enchiladas are a real special occasion dish, if only because of the labor that goes into assembling them. And what better occasion than the dawn of a new era of hope? Just don’t hope that this will actually take you the hour and a half or so that the recipe indicates; I was working on it for at least 3 hours, if not longer (there were some breaks interspersed, so I’m not quite sure how long it took). If anything, I would make the chicken mix and the green chile sauce one day, and put together the enchiladas the next. I, however, didn’t have that much forethought, and as you might not either, I’ve tried to adapt the cookbook’s recipe to be as easy to follow in terms of order of operations as possible. ¡Cambio! ¡Esperanza! ¡Olé!
Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream
Adapted from the Pink Adobe Cookbook
Makes 12 enchiladas (6 servings of 2 each)
For poaching chicken:
– 2 whole chicken breasts
– 2 cups water
– 1 tsp. salt
– 1 small carrot, chopped coarse or whole
– 1 small onion, quartered
– 2 sprigs parsley
– 1 stalk celery, quartered
– 2 whole chicken breasts, poached (from poaching above)
– 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
– 1 pint sour cream
– 4 tbsp. olive oil
– 1 clove garlic, chopped
– 1 16-oz can chopped green chiles (I had to use four 4 oz. cans of chopped green chiles, which got a little pricey…they were Ortega brand, Anaheim chiles)
– 5 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (see step #3 for peeling instructions)
– 2 medium onions, chopped fine
– ½ tsp. dried oregano
– ½ tsp. salt
– 1 cup chicken broth (from poaching)
– Canola oil for frying
– 12 corn tortillas (the small taco kind)
1. To poach chicken: Put chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and add all other ingredients. Cover pot and simmer for about 45 minutes; chicken should be cooked through (meat will look white and have a flakey texture). Take off heat and let chicken cool in broth.
2. Meanwhile, peel tomatoes: This is actually very easy, as long as you don’t try to do it with a knife. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, add the tomatoes, whole. Cook for about 5 minutes, until skins start to peel off. Let the tomatoes cool in the water; when you remove them, you should be able to just pull the skins off with your hands. After peeling, chop roughly.
3. Meanwhile meanwhile (while the water is boiling for the tomatoes and the chicken is poaching), prep other items…(this is when I grated the cheese, chopped the garlic and onions, and opened my cans of chiles)
4. Now back to the chicken: Strain chicken and vegetables, reserving the broth. “Shred” the chicken, pulling it apart with the grain into relatively small flakes of meat (this will make sense once you have the poached chicken). Mix chicken with half (1 cup) of the grated cheese and all the sour cream to the shredded chicken and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
5. Around now would be a good time to preheat the oven to 350º F.
6. Prepare green chile sauce: heat olive oil in a medium pot. Add garlic and sauté until golden. Add chiles, tomatoes, onions, oregano, and salt. Add broth and cook over low heat until liquid is reduced by half (about 15-20 minutes). Set aside.
7. Okay, enchilada assembly time! This is where it gets fun. Set up as assembly line with a frying pan on the stove, the bowl of chicken mix, the green chile sauce, a flat surface to work on (I used a cutting board with paper towels covering it to absorb the oil), and the pan the enchiladas are eventually going to land in.
a. Then heat the oil in a frying pan. I worked 2 tortillas at a time – you could do more if your cutting board is bigger than mine. Fry each tortilla individually, just for a few seconds on each side until it puffs slightly. Remove with tongs or a spatula and let drain on the paper towel covered cutting board (turn it over at some point so both sides can drain).
b. Divide the chicken mix in half, and then divide each half into six parts, roughly. Spoon 1/12 of chicken mixture onto tortilla and top with 2 tbsp. of green chile sauce.
c. “Roll” the enchilada. For me, this ended up being more like folding it twice.
d. Place “rolled” enchilada into 9×13 pan; fill pan so enchiladas are snug.
7. When all enchiladas are assembled, cover with remaining sauce and cheese and bake for 15 minutes (uncovered, until thoroughly heated). The Pink Adobe recommends serving the enchiladas with chopped lettuce and Corona Extra beer. A cookbook after my own heart.