My chicken enchilada casseroles have previously required a warning label. Or, so I’ve been told.
The recipe for green chile chicken enchiladas from my first cookbook is to my repertoire what engagement chicken is to Ina’s. If you’re not sure whether or not a prospective significant other is a keeper, it’s best not to make them my enchiladas.
My best friends’ little brother had an entire dating sequence that stemmed from these enchiladas. If she made it to the fourth date, it was time for her to experience the green chile magic. Upon which, she would be hopelessly under his spell. And since he is soon to wed a longtime enchilada conquest, one might say that the effect lasts for life.
Despite this lore, I’ve never really considered myself to be an enchilada girl. If someone were to pull a similar move, he’d be better off with tacos or tortilla soup. Or, in the case of Charlie’s first meal for me, this chili.
I think part of the reason is, since limiting dairy in my life, I haven’t eaten a whole lot of chicken enchiladas in the last 5 years. Up until a few weeks ago, when I tried my hand at Julia Turshen’s recipe, I had forgotten their bewitching appeal. But having done so, I am under her spell for life. At least, in the friendship department.
This easy chicken enchilada casserole recipe is from her new book Now and Again, which is organized by menu, and gives you hundreds of make-ahead entertaining ideas, and more importantly, ways to reinvent whatever your guests don’t manage to inhale.
The enchiladas were part of a spread for a card night with friends, which seems like a much more fitting occasion in your 30’s to whip out such a dish, since most people in my life have already married their former purveyor of homemade Tex-Mex delicacies, myself included.
There are a few brilliant things about this recipe’s red sauce that make it both surprising and authentic. First, Julia uses whole tomatoes from a can. This makes it accessible for any season, while a quick roast in the oven caramelizes the flavors and makes them taste like they’re at their peak.
Per her suggestion for ways to use up the leftovers, I made a double batch of the red sauce and used it as a base for tortilla soup and tacos. I.e. all the things that would make me want to marry myself.
Only, after trying this roasted chicken number, I might just have to add enchiladas to the list. Even without the sour cream and cheese, which I subbed for coconut cream and shredded Miyokos, and even with a heaping helping of kale in the filling, they were insanely decadent and satisfying. The roasted tomato sauce was drinkably good, which only made me doubly happy to have extra portions to do just that with in soup form.
Read on for the recipe, and for more creative, unfussy meals to make keepers for life, make sure to pick up a copy of Now and Again!
With health and hedonism,
p.s. this recipe is also very easy to adapt to be low FODMAP if that’s your dietary bag!
Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Roasted Tomato Sauce and Kale
I made a double batch of this red sauce to use for future enchiladas, but Julia also suggests thinning it out into a creamy tortilla soup base. As for this dish, I made it slightly less authentic by adding kale to the shredded chicken mixture and using coconut cream instead of sour cream for the red sauce to keep it dairy-free in addition to gluten-free. I also used this nut cheese instead of the jack, but you can’t go wrong by sticking with Julia’s original recipe, which you can find in her book!
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1½ lb [680 g] boneless skinless chicken breasts
- One 28-oz [794-g] can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 jalapeño chile roughly chopped (discard the seeds if you like)
- 2 large handfuls of fresh cilantro leaves a little bit of stem is fine!
- ½ cup [120 g] sour cream I used coconut cream
- 1 bunch lacinato or tuscan kale tough stems removed and thinly sliced
- 3 Tbsp canola or other neutral oil plus more as needed
- Ten 6-in [15-cm] corn tortillas
- ¾ cup [85 g] coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese I used shredded nut cheese
- Preheat your oven to 425°F [220°C]. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together the garlic, cumin, olive oil, and 1 tsp salt. Add the chicken breasts and coat them with the garlic mixture. Place them in an even layer on one side of the prepared sheet pan.
- Pour the can of tomatoes into a sieve placed over a bowl to catch the juice. Reserve the juice. Place the drained tomatoes and the jalapeño on the other side of the sheet pan.
- Roast the chicken and tomatoes until the chicken is firm to the touch and golden brown and the tomatoes are a bit concentrated, about 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and leave the oven on.
- Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and let it cool down a bit. Transfer the tomatoes and jalapeño to a blender or food processor and add any cooking juices from the sheet pan, the reserved tomato juice, a handful of the cilantro, the sour cream, and 1 tsp kosher salt. Process until smooth. You should have about 3 cups [720 ml] sauce.
- Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite-size pieces directly into the bowl in which it is already sitting. If any liquid remains in the bowl from the chicken, leave it there, as it will become part of its own sauce! Add the kale and add one-third (about 1 cup/240 ml) of the reserved tomato sauce and stir well to combine.
- Pour another third (about 1 cup/240 ml) of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-in [23-by-33-cm] baking dish. Spread the sauce to cover the bottom.
- In a large nonstick skillet over high heat, warm the canola oil. Place a tortilla in the pan and fry until coated with oil on both sides and just barely softened and pliable, about 10 seconds per side. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, transferring them to a work surface as you go. As long as your skillet is nonstick and nice and hot, you shouldn’t need more oil, but if the skillet goes dry before you are done with the tortillas, add a splash more.
- Divide the sauced chicken evenly among the tortillas. Roll up the tortillas tightly around the chicken and line them up, seam-side down, in the baking dish. Pour the remaining tomato sauce (about 1 cup/240 ml) evenly over the stuffed tortillas and sprinkle with the cheese.
- Bake the enchiladas until the cheese is melted and golden brown and the sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining handful of cilantro and the red onion and serve immediately.
This is an easy meal to adapt for a low FODMAP diet: simply omit the garlic and be careful about the quantity of nut cheese, if using.
Purposely make a double batch of the sauce for the enchiladas. Use half for the enchiladas and add 3 cups [720 ml] vegetable or chicken stock to the rest, and that’s that. So delicious, and two meals for the price of one. Serve with quesadillas instead of grilled cheese sandwiches.