One thing that I noticed when I moved to the Midwestern part of the United States was their affinity towards Mexican cuisine. It seemed like everywhere we went out to eat, there would be a “taco flavored” item on the menu, no matter if it was a pizzeria, hot dog joint, or Chinese restaurant. That being said, it is only natural that the first time I ate an enchilada was in the Midwest at an authentic family owned Mexican restaurant. This week, I recreated a from scratch chicken enchilada to satiate my own “taco” craving.
MAKES 10 ENCHILADAS. SERVING 4 OR 5 AS A MAIN DISH
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4 thighs), trimmed of excess fat and cut into ¼ -inch-wide strips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 can (4 ounces) pickled jalapenos, drained and chopped (about 1/4 cup)
8 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, grated (2 cups)
Tortillas and Toppings:
10 six-inch corn tortillas
3 ounces grated Monterrey Jack cheese (3/4 cup)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 avocado, diced medium
5 romaine lettuce leaves, washed, dried, and shredded
2 limes, quartered
Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until about 30 seconds. Add enchilada sauce; stir to separate chicken pieces. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and flavors have melded, about 8 minutes. Pour mixture through medium-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on chicken to extract as much sauce as possible; set sauce aside. Transfer chicken mixture to large plate for 10 minutes to cool, then combine with cilantro, jalapenos, and cheese in medium bowl and set aside.
Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees.
Place some sauce in the bottom of 9 x13. Heat tortillas and fill, roll, and sauce enchiladas. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake enchiladas on lower-middle rack until heated through and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and serve immediately, passing sour cream, avocado, lettuce, and lime wedges separately.