Friday, January 21, 2011

Mixed Chile Chicken Enchiladas

The sauce used in these enchiladas has unfathomable depth.  I'm talking rich layer upon rich layer, insane amounts of flavor.  Using half New Mexico chiles and half Guajillo chiles, you arrive at a sauce bearing a bright, tip of the tongue, tantalizing introduction, followed up by a dark, eye-roll inducing, earthy, smoky relationship.  The perfect sauce.  The recipe is my slight modification of a Rick Bayless recipe.  I knew I wanted to fill the enchiladas with chicken (tons of shredded chicken in the freezer!), but I had to kick up the chicken a touch, in order that it would stand up flavor-wise to this amazing, taste-bud party, extravaganza of a sauce.  A little onion and cilantro with the chicken and cheese, and ecco, the perfect filling.  These make great leftovers, so be sure to make the whole recipe, even if there are only a couple of you!

Makes 4 to 8 servings of 2 to 4 enchiladas each

For the sauce:

  • 6 garlic cloves, skin on
  • 2 ounces dried New Mexico Chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut open
  • 2 ounces dried Guajillo Chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut open
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 cups broth (preferably homemade, chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 1/2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Heat a dry cast iron pan to medium heat, place garlic cloves in pan and dry toast for about 15 or 20 minutes, turning a few times, until soft, fragrant and blackened in spots.  Set aside to cool, remove skins, and roughly chop.
  • Using same cast iron, toast chiles a couple seconds per side, pressing down with a potato masher, then add to a bowl of hot water.  Continue toasting all chiles until done.  Then let chiles sit in hot water for 30 minutes, and then drain chiles, discard liquid.
  • Put chiles, garlic, spices and 2/3 cup of broth into food processor (or blender).  Process until you get a smooth puree (you'll have to scrape down the sides a few times).
  • With a rubber spatula, work puree through a size to remove any bits of skin or seeds.
  • In a medium or large heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until a sprinkle of water sizzles.
  • Add puree and cook, stirring constantly for about 5- 10 minutes to let sauce cook and reduce (it will darken).  Taste after 5 minutes, if raw taste of chile is gone, you're all set, if not, continue to cook.
  • Add remaining broth, set heat to low and simmer sauce for at least 30 minutes, until the consistency of cream soup.  This will take 30 to 60 minutes, depending on your pot and your stove.  If you've been simmering for 30 minutes and the sauce is too thick, add a little more broth.
For Enchiladas
  • One large onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 pound shredded chicken
  • 2 TBS chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 pound monterey jack cheese, shredded (or grated on the large holes of a box grater)
  • 16 taco-size tortillas (corn or flour)
  • Heat oven to 350.
  • Heat olive oil over medium- high heat, add onion and salt.  Drop heat to low
  • Cook onion slowly, until translucent, but still with a bit of texture.
  • Take pan off of heat.
  • Mix in chicken, cilantro and two-thirds of the cheese.  Divide in half, and then those sections in half again, and then again and again.  This way you can "eyeball" a 1/16 of the filling for each enchilada
  • In a baking dish, ladle enough sauce to lightly cover the bottom (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • Heat tortillas (in oven or microwave) until pliable.
  • Fill each tortilla with 1/16 of the mixture and roll tightly.  Place seam side down in baking dish.
  • Continue with all tortillas and then cover with remaining sauce.
  • Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.  (At this point, you can put enchiladas in the fridge to be baked off later in the day, or the following day).
  • Cover dish with aluminum foil, and place in oven for 30 minutes.
  • Remove foil and continue cooking for 10 minutes
  • Let enchiladas cool for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Sprinkle cilantro on top and serve.

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