Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas

In between bouts of power washing and painting more of the exterior of our house, I spent some time in the kitchen this week playing with some old and new recipes. The first one I tackled was an old favorite of ours – chicken enchiladas. This is a dish we would make from time to time when we lived in the States, but I hadn’t given it a go since our move here to Belize.

Now in the past, I would have relied on canned enchilada sauce, but that’s not something I could find here in Corozal. So off I went to the Internet to find out how to make my own. Not surprisingly, there are a ton of recipes out there, and after sifting through a bunch, I decided to use bits and pieces of recipes I liked that would work with the ingredients I had on hand.

So mis amigos, let’s see how it all played out.

First I combined 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil and 1 Tablespoon of flour to make a roux:

Once that got stirred around for a couple of minutes, I added 1/4 cup of chili powder. Yes, I said 1/4 cup:

Now, I will admit that I was initially a teeny bit hesitant about the quantity. I mean, would my lips end up falling off from the heat? Would my taste buds be scarred for life? But I decided to be brave and work with it.
After the chili powder got stirred around and cooked in the roux for about 30 seconds, I added 2 cups of homemade chicken stock, 8 ounces of tomato sauce...
...about 8 ounces of tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Now at this point, any cocinero (chef) worth her salt, would give the mixture a taste. I did and...well I'll warn you that it will seem a bit harsh, and it will need some more salt. But have faith and bring the whole shebang to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and let it cook for about 20 minutes.
Now when you taste it, you'll be saying Hola Amante! The flavors should have all melded together to make this deliciousness. There will be warm undertones from the chili powder, but not much heat. It actually reminded me of more of a mole sauce. Your lips and taste buds will not fall off or be damaged in any way. Instead, they will thank you.
With the enchilada sauce now taken care of, I could get busy making the rest of the dish, with a helping hand from David.
But first, let me introduce our enchilada fillings:
Say hello to shredded chicken, sauteed onions, sliced black olives, and shredded cheddar.
I ladled some of that sauce into my baking dish and spread it around.
 I also poured a teeny bit into a warm saute pan and began to heat up our tortillas, which one by one, I handed off to David.
He piled on the fillings... 
...then rolled up each tortilla and placed them in the baking dish.
But wait! We can't leave them naked! Oh no, sir. We need to cover them up with lots of lovely things, like more enchilada sauce, more olives, and of course, more cheese.


I popped the baking dish into a pre-heated 450-degree oven for about 20 minutes. When done, oh my!

Serious taste -- gooey cheese, that warm and inviting sauce, the chicken, the olives. They all came together. And you know what? Even if I can eventually find canned enchilada sauce here, I doubt if I would buy it when I can make my own (which tastes way better, if I say so myself).

Buen Provecho!

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