My obsession with mexican food developed slightly later in my teenage years. Around the same time, I took serious notice of my mom’s chicken enchiladas. Cheesy gooey heaven on a plate. Since I’ve started cooking for myself, I’ve tried really hard to stay away from one of the key ingredients in the dish I grew up with- cream of chicken soup.
What’s with it? Can we just talk about that creamy colored blob that thunks out of a can? For being such a staple in so many casseroles and 90’s kids’ favorites, cream of chicken remains cloaked in mystery. I just can’t cook with it and feel good about it.
I couldn’t leave enchiladas in the past, they’re too precious to me. I can also take credit for addicting my soon-to-be-hub to my Mexican comfort food. As a lasagna loving Italian boy, I sold it was Mexican lasagna. (the tortillas kind of become noodles- right? kind of?) These enchiladas pack all the gooey soul-warming goodness without added processed chemicals that accompany canned cream-of-anythings.
- 1 lb chicken breast, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 1/2 c. salsa
- 1/4 c. flour
- 1 c. water
- 2 tbsp Mexican seasoning blend
- 3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
- about 6 tortillas
In my house I start by turning on the oven to 350. Our oven is border-lining on being a safety hazard because it’s so old and takes so long to heat up. [I’ll use that as my excuse for never baking ]. Regardless, if your oven is made post-1970 you probably won’t need quite as much preheating time.
Start by cooking diced chicken in a large skillet. I drizzle mine with a swig of olive oil and a touch of salt and pepper. Once the chicken is cooked, you have the option of removing it to chop even tinier if you prefer. Just return the chicken to the skillet when you are done. In my house we like things a little more ‘rustic’ aka I get lazy and don’t finely chop everything.
Add in pepper, onion, water and Mexican seasoning. Simmer, covered, until veggies are soft. At this point you want some extra liquid in the skillet, that’s going to become your enchilada sauce. I realize I’m probably bringing shame to the art of Mexican cooking, because I’m pretty sure these aren’t really enchiladas, but we’ll call this the remix. Add some more water to your skillet if things are looking on the dry side.
Add in salsa and dust with flour. Stir to thicken the mixture. Lastly, add in the majority of the cheese. This skillet is now your piping hot filling- which will save a reasonable amount of time off of your bake time. Time to assemble!
Grease a baking dish. I sprinkle a little salsa on the bottom of the dish, for moisture. On
your counter a clean cutting board or surface, take a large dollop of the skillet mixture and plop it along the edge of a tortilla. Roll that baby up and place it seam-side-down in the dish. Repeat this process until you’ve filled your baking dish. I use a small dish and really fill my tortillas, so we usually get about 6.
Odds are that you will have extra skillet filling left over. This is good- this is very good. Top your neatly rolled tortillas with this mixture. I like to think of it like pulling a blanket over a cozy sleeping child… If tortillas were cozy sleeping children. I mean, they do look cozy.
Top with a sprinkle of cheese for visual appeal and bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving or risk a disastrous mess when you try to remove them from the pan; not to mention a burnt tongue.