Monday, January 23, 2012

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

I grew up on my tias' green chile chicken enchilada casserole, but I never bothered to ask how they made it; I mean, why learn how to cook it when they'll make it for you? Actually, that's not true. I think I did ask—several times—but their recipe included "some" of this, "a little" of that, followed by a dash, a pinch, and a sprinkling of "those." They all swore it was "really easy to make," which is why they didn't have an actual recipe.

I'm the type of person who needs clear-cut directions. Spell it out for me in detail so I can check, double check, and then have someone else make sure I got it all right, otherwise you'll end up with salt cookies instead of sugar cookies. So a few weeks before I moved from New Mexico to Georgia, my mom and I practiced making green chile chicken enchiladas. It turns out making the casserole really is pretty freaking easy.

I've been making this now for more than two years and I'm proud to say I don't use a recipe for it anymore, which is why it's probably taken me so long to share this with you. I have the basics down, but sometimes I'll throw in a little something extra (it's great with an additional 1 cup of sauteed mushrooms) or play around with ingredients (sometimes I use whatever cheese I have on hand, and I love using leftover Thanksgiving turkey in place of the chicken). The recipe also works great cut in half, which is something I like to do when it's just me at home.

Like most casseroles, this tastes better after it's been out of the oven for a few hours and even better the next day. All the flavors have time to sit, mingle, and get to know each other, resulting in a party in your mouth later. If you do make it ahead of time, just pop it back into the oven for a bit to warm it back up. Serve with Spanish rice, calabacitas (coming this week!), and homemade tortillas!
Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
by The Tale of Two Kitchens

Ingredients:
1 pound chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 (10 oz) cans cream of mushroom soup
1 batch green chile sauce (or 1-2 cups green chile, pealed and chopped)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic
8 corn tortillas, quartered
1/4 cup your favorite salsa
12 oz shredded cheese (cheddar or Colby/Monterrey Jack blend)
1/2 onion, chopped (optional, but only if you absolutely, positively HATE onions)

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350F (180c). Lightly spray a 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.

In a medium-sized pot on medium-high heat, combine soup, chile, and (cooked) chicken. Add ground pepper, cumin and garlic; mix to combine. Once the mixture starts to boil thickly, take off heat, stir, and set aside.

Submerge quartered tortilla pieces in salsa one at a time and place along the bottom of the casserole dish so the whole thing is covered (it takes around three and a half whole tortillas per layer—it's okay if there are some spaces or if they lay on top of each other). Spread half of chicken mixture over tortillas. Sprinkle half the onions over chicken mixture, then add around a 1/4 of the cheese over the onions. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients ending with the cheese.

Bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Let cool, slice, and serve! (It's often not very set when we eat it straight out of the oven, but it still tastes great and will firm up for leftovers!)

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