Growing up in southern California with a Mom that grew up in AZ, enchiladas were in the regular dinner rotation at home, and an easy pick as a kid when we’d go out to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant. My mom made her chicken enchiladas casserole-style (layered/stacked), but I find the process of rolling the enchiladas up a bit meditative. Put on some good music, sip a freshly made margarita, get into a nice workflow of filling and rolling and all seems alright with the world.
I usually time my chicken enchilada making around having an extra stash of chicken for one reason or another. Whether rotisserie chickens were on sale, I made chicken for another recipe and made extra (purposely or not), or my freezer stash needs thinning. I’m a big fan of shredding (or picking if it’s a rotisserie) cooked leftover chicken and freezing it for later…easy to grab and use for enchiladas, white chicken chili, taco night, pasta dishes, etc.
This chicken enchiladas recipe combines flavors from places that make up my foundation: the lime and honey combination is definitely something I associate with California cuisine, and the Hatch chile from New Mexico, where I went to college and developed a deep and eternal love for all things green chile. Man do I missed being able to order a pizza with hatch green chile on it….
This recipe is easily modified to be vegetarian enchiladas. My mom-in-law (vegetarian) loved when I filled her enchiladas with leftover foil-packet potatoes (sliced potatoes with olive oil, spices and onions, cooked in a foil packet on the grill). I also love using big slices of avocado for the filling. Sub either of these (or any other veggie) for the chicken in this recipe (for potatoes, just make sure they’re precooked).
Flour vs Corn tortillas
This comes down to personal preference, and you’ll get no argument from me either way. Sometimes it’s whatever we already have on hand, or whichever way my taste buds are swinging that day. I will say that if you’re making these ahead of time, be it in the morning to bake later that night or the next day or for freezing, corn is a better bet as flour tortillas get soggy much quicker.
Whichever way you go, I do recommend toasting the tortillas prior to rolling…just a quick 30 seconds or so on each side in a hot skillet is perfect. Helps with the sog factor. You can definitely add some oil and fry them a bit, but not necessary.
There’s a ton of flavor in the marinade, so you don’t need to be fancy about how you get your shredded chicken. The easiest method is to add your chicken breasts to a pot of salted water, bring it to a boil then simmer for about 20 minutes (I like to add a glug of olive oil to the pot too). A little more hands-on method is to brown them quickly on both sides in a bit of oil, then add a cup of chicken broth, cover and cook for about 20 minutes or so until easily shreddable. Shred with 2 forks, or for a quick and hands-off alternative you can pop them in your mixer with the paddle attachment at low speed (works brilliantly!).
Other types of meat
You can certainly sub in shredded pork or beef for this recipe. In fact I’ve used leftover shredded flank steak from an extra large batch of my Southwestern Beef Stew and it’s pretty damn amazing (always love a steak and lime combo).
Serving up your chicken enchiladas
In the warmer months I love to serve my chicken enchiladas with a simple green salad (dressed with just a little lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings), when it’s cooler and we’re in comfort food mode, homemade beans or black beans and rice. Hearty enough to serve on their own as well! And I must say, leftovers are even better…all of those flavors really meld and some kind of magic happens….
From my family to yours, I hope you love them! Be sure and comment below with any questions, and be sure and let me know if you try them!
The black clay Chamba pot shown in the background above has been getting some inquiries! It’s FANTASTIC for cooking beans and stews, and will have its own post soon. In the meantime you can get one here.