Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas with refried beans

Chicken enchiladas are always a hit in the Witch household. However the last few times I've made them they just weren't quite right. I made special note of a few areas that I felt just weren't working, and vowed to make some changes next time I prepared enchiladas.

The chicken was one place that I knew needed work. In the past white meat chicken breasts were all I'd even consider eating. I'd season it, cook it, dice it and make enchiladas. And every single time I was underwhelmed: the chicken was too chunky, not the right flavor, not at all what I was thinking it should taste like! Now a days my palette has expanded and I understand the beauty of using thighs. The meat isn't as dark as you'd think, so haters, give it a try! They aren't greasy, fatty or gross. As a matter of fact, they're lots more flavorful than the breast, it shreds like you want chicken to shred and has the flavor that I wanted in an enchilada. I slow braised the chicken in some spices in the oven, you could use a slow cooker, then shredded it. The chicken stayed moist, shredded perfectly and most of all had the flavor that I was hoping for. WIN!!

The next area to attack was the tortilla. Rater than add extra calories by flash frying I've always softened my tortillas in heated up enchilada sauce. That's how my Dad taught me, that's how we do it on Christmas when we make our homemade enchiladas, and I was always pretty happy with that. Until last time I made chicken enchiladas. Oh the sauce softened the tortilla, sure enough, but softened it so much that it turned to mush under my fingers. Trying to roll a soggy sauce logged tortilla is disastrous. It rips, tears and splits. Despite its visual appearance, its still tasty, right?, not really! I recall that last time I made chicken enchiladas I was NOT happy with the overall flavor, the tortilla was flavorless mush, no strong corn tortilla flavor that I was hoping for. You NEED that corn flavor to meld with the chicken and sauce, its a whole enchilada experience. So this time I decided to do it the restaurant way, briefly fry each tortilla in hot oil to soften it, fill with chicken, roll and spoon enchilada sauce over the top. SUCCESS!

These chicken enchiladas were exactly like the ones we'd get in a good Mexican restaurant. They were delicious. The tortilla had flavor on its own and didn't turn to mush. The chicken was seasoned and tasty. And best of all, because the chicken is cooked ahead of time, this is an easy weeknight dinner. The assembly didn't take long and after a quick trip through the broiler to melt the cheese, dinner was done.

And because I'm a Kitchen Witch, I couldn't just discard the cooking juices from the chicken. All that chickeny flavor, spices and goodness, well to dump it down the drain was sacrilege! Instead I whipped up a quick and healthy side dish of quick refried beans. A can of pinto beans, about 1/2 cup of the chicken cooking liquid and a pinch of salt, mash them up together and voila! Refried beans that are healthy, tasty and not laden with fat and calories.

I hope you enjoy these enchiladas as much as we all did!

Chicken Enchiladas
makes 14 enchiladas
1 lb chicken thighs
1/2 t each onion and garlic granules/powder and oregano
1 t each chili powder and ground cumin
1 t cumin ground
1/2 c chicken broth or water
1 can green enchilada sauce or up to 2 cups homemade
6 oz Monterey Jack cheese
14 corn tortillas
oil for tortillas

Refried beans
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c reserved chicken cooking liquids
pinch kosher salt

Prepare chicken first
Preheat oven to 250F
Place chicken thighs in a small dutch oven or a slow cooker along with the spices, herbs and chicken broth. Add a bit of salt and pepper, cover and cook about 3 hours (on low if using a slow cooker) or until thighs are tender and easily shredded.

Remove chicken and allow to cool until easily handled. Shred chicken, discarding any gristle and fat.

Reserve the cooking liquids from the chicken for refried beans.

Assemble enchiladas
Preheat broiler in oven.
Heat a sautee pan over medium high heat. Heat oil, enough to fill pan 1/2 inch deep. Once oil is hot quickly flash fry each tortilla. Immediately place tortilla in a 13x9 pan and fill with about 2-3 T of the shredded chicken. Roll tortilla and place in pan seam side down. Repeat for all tortillas.

Spoon enchilada sauce over top of the enchiladas, top with shredded cheese.

Place on top rack of oven and heat until cheese is melted and slightly browned on top. Remove from oven, allow to cool before serving.

Top with additional enchilada sauce if desired.

Refried Beans
Put drained and rinsed beans in a small sauce pan. Add the 1/2 chicken cooking liquid and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Using a potato masher smash most of the beans. The beans will thicken as they cook. Taste for season and adjust salt as necessary.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Chicken enchiladas
Amount Per Serving
Calories 333.2
Total Fat 9.3 g
Saturated Fat 1.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.9 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.2 g
Cholesterol 76.9 mg
Sodium 427.5 mg
Potassium 491.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 40.6 g
Dietary Fiber 6.6 g
Sugars 1.5 g
Protein 23.5 g

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Refried Beans
Amount Per Serving
Calories 104.4
Total Fat 4.7 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.6 mg
Sodium 249.4 mg
Potassium 53.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 18.9 g
Dietary Fiber 6.6 g
Sugars 1.1 g
Protein 5.7 g


Design Wine and Dine said...

Now this is a recipe! I just picked up some awesome corn tortillas but I wouls like to begin making my own! Nice that you fried them up in the oil this time - YUM!

Lyndsey said...

I think chicken thighs have a lot of flavor too, I usually use what I have left over from cooking a whole chicken. I also like to do a quick fry of the corn tortillas before rolling and verde sauce is the only way to go with chicken enchiladas. I like your explenation on everything. I am now going to check out your verde sauce recipe.

Ma What's 4 dinner said...

oh how I love enchiladas!!! I've never made my own beans before. but that verde sauce, now that looks amazing!

Lots of yummy love,
Alex aka Ma, What's For Dinner

All Our Fingers in the Pie said...

I am having my 'real estate part-time job' office over on Monday for supper. They have been interested in seeing my reno. And they are very picky eaters so I deciced to make Tex Mex. Chicken enchiladas are on my menu. I was going to dip the tortillas in sauce, but now I won't. I will buy dark meat. I agree that it would be tastier. I'll be making refried beans but using dried red beans. So hope that works. I will be using some canned Hatch's enchilada sauce. Saved it from my trip South last year.

Jenn said...

I love how you just tackled those problems!! They didn't stand a chance in the witch's kitchen, that is for sure! The enchilada looks fantastic! I really wish I could convince Chris that thighs aren't all bad..he just won't listen! Maybe putting it in something will help that along??

StephenC said...

You know, during the potato famine I'm sure the Irish would have been glad to have Mexican food. Unfortunately, at that time, carry out could take days or weeks or even months. Mooshu pork and eggrolls anyone?

Angie's Recipes said...

Andrea, your chicken enchiladas looks so mouthwatering!

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

never made encheladas but your recipe makes it all look so worthwhile... I have to give it a go... soooo hungry now!

Karen Harris said...

I'm a big enchilada lover and you're right, flash frying those tortillas just makes things right and thighs are delicious. I was watching Rick Bayless not long ago and he makes his refried beans by using the entire contents of a can of beans and mashes them in their own juice before seasoning them. I was skeptical until I tried it, they really are good too.

anthony stemke said...

Love your recipe, although I prefer seasoned chicken breasts. I like to cook the beans with lard for nice flavour. Real lard, not hydrogenated. Your photos are very appealing.

tasteofbeirut said...

I love chicken enchiladas and I love your recipe! I agree with you that thighs are a lot tastier. I have been using a recipe for years and now I feel like making them again.

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

Wow. I'm certainly glad you took on this challenge! What a beauty - the thighs no doubt make a superior enchilada. And I'm a sucker for the 'green' sauce - lightens everything up wonderfully. Thanks for sharing;)

Spoon and Chopsticks said...

Mouthwatering enchiladas. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

I've answered your question in my comment on my blog:

Rebecca Boilini said...

This was delicious!! The refried beans were to die for and I don't even usually like beans!! I'm making again for dinner tonight!! Yummo!

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Rebecca, Yay!! I'm so glad you made and enjoyed them :) Aren't those beans good?? Thanks for trying my recipe and reporting back, it means a lot to me! Happy cooking!!

Andrea the Kitchen Witch

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