The other night, we had some of our besties over for dinner. I wanted something special, delicious and winter-hearty; something that made the whole house smell amazing and made you salivate as soon as you opened the front door.
I turned to my beloved enchiladas. For years, enchiladas have been one of my go-to pantry busters. I use any tortillas that I have on hand and saute whatever latin-style ingredients I have in the fridge and pantry. I have done them with a leftover chicken breast. I have done them with a simple can of beans, sauteed onion and cilantro. Basically, as long as you roll them up, coat in some sauce and bake them with cheese on top, you can't lose!
I had always used either store bought enchilada sauce or, in a pinch, replaced the sauce with salsa. It wasn't until my husband decided to try his hand at making his own hot sauce, that I discovered how easy and tasty it is to make your own enchilada sauce.
When Sam was going through his hot sauce experimentation phase, we went to our local Mexican grocery store and bought a couple large bags of dried chilis. We only used about half of each bag and had the rest sitting, untouched, in our pantry for quite a few months. One day I grew sick of looking at them and thought that I would reconstitute them in some boiling water and then puree them up to make a sauce. The result was a good but really basic red chili sauce. I have since "sassed" the sauce up a bit by reconstituting in chicken stock and adding garlic, cumin, salt and pepper to the liquid. The result is so good!
Rotisserie Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce
*Serves 6 people with 2 enchiladas per person
For the Sauce:
12 dried Guajillo peppers [don't worry, these peppers have great chili flavor and next to no heat...for more heat try something like dried Ancho chilis]
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cloves of garlic
2 t ground cumin
1/4 t black pepper
For the Enchiladas
Meat from 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 red bell pepper [use any color you like], chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 T olive oil plus a couple more for greasing the pans
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper
Juice of half a lime
12 large flour tortillas
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Begin by placing all of the sauce ingredients into a saucepan. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes over medium low heat until the peppers have begun to plump up.
Once the chilis have plumped, remove the stems from the chilies. They should pull out effortlessly. Place the de-stemmed chilies and the remaining contents of the pan into a blender and blend on high for about a minute.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the onion, red pepper, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper to the oil and saute for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Stir the shredded chicken into the mix and saute for a couple of minutes to heat up the chicken. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour the lime juice over it, stirring to combine.
Prepare your baking pans for "enchilada time" by placing a tablespoon of oil and a few tablespoons of enchilada sauce into the bottom of your pan. Shake the pan a bit to thoroughly cover the bottom. I used a 9 x 13 and an 8x8 but feel free to use whatever combo of rectangular or square pans you like.
Begin assembling the enchiladas by placing a couple heaping tablespoons of the chicken mixture in a horizontal line across the middle of your tortilla. Fold both the right and left side of the tortilla slightly over the chicken mixture and, holding those sides down, roll the top of your tortilla all the way down, making a burrito-shape.
Place the tortillas, seam-side down, in the pan. Feel free to pack them in pretty tightly. I had about 8 or 9 in my 9x 13 and 4 in my 8x8.
Heavily spoon the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and then coat with the shredded cheese.
Bake uncovered for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the sauce has begun to bubble around the sides.