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New Mexico-style Stacked Chicken Enchiladas (Gluten-Free)
Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams
I love enchiladas. I love cheese enchiladas, chicken enchiladas, beef enchiladas. I love green enchiladas, I love red enchiladas. I love them rolled, I love them stacked.
The key to great enchiladas lies in the sauce, and good enchilada sauce can be a labor of love. One shortcut is to use enchilada sauce from a can.
The problem with many store-bought sauces is that they are made with wheat flour, and thus contain gluten. Many recipes also use flour to thicken the sauce. There are ways around that, of course, but I've experimented over the last months and found a great way to make delicious, authentic, and fairly quick enchilada sauce with no flour.
Here's a recipe for a tasty, delicious red chili enchiladas that will have your family and friends wondering how you came to master the art of Mexican cooking so handily.
These enchiladas are prepared in the stacked style common to New Mexico and west Texas. The process saves time and produces delicious enchiladas. In New Mexico and west Texas, it is common to serve them topped with a fried egg. This recipe follows that tradition, but the enchiladas are also delicious without the egg, and served with Mexican-style rice and refried beans.
- 6 large eggs
- 15 ounces of Enchilada sauce (See recipe below)
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, separated
- 2 tablespoons lard or butter, separated
- 1 ½ pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 1 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend (See recipe below)
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
- 1 ½ cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (6 ounces)
- 1 cup canned corn, drained
- 5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 2 cups stewed tomatoes, drained and chopped
- ½ medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon rice flour
- Salt and pepper
- Coat large sauté pan with oil. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and brown over medium heat for about 7 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Season with garlic powder and Mexican spices, and remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.
- Sauté onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn, green chilies and stewed tomatoes. Stir well to combine, and sauté 1 minute.
- Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to sauté pan with corn, green chilies, tomatoes and onions. Dust the mixture with rice flour to help set. Sauté 1 minute until mixed.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a large baking dish.
- In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil to medium heat. Cook each tortilla for about 30 seconds on each side (or until soft). Keep warm in a towel or a warmer. Divide chicken, green chili corn, tomato and onion mixture into four equal parts. Divide the cheese into four equal parts.
- To assemble the enchiladas, first coat the bottom of the baking dish with enchilada sauce. Next, take up to three tortillas and arrange them so the bottom of the baking dish is covered. Next add ¼ of the grated cheeses, and add ¼ of the chicken, corn, green chili, tomato and onion mixture. Add another tortilla, and add same amount of sauce, cheese, and chicken, corn, green chili, tomato and onion mixture. Add a third tortilla, and again top with sauce, cheese, chicken, corn, green chili, tomato and onion mixture. Repeat until you have four stacks.
- Bake enchiladas in the oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling. While enchiladas are cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of lard or oil in the cast-iron skillet and then fry the eggs two at a time (or however many will fit). To serve, place an enchilada stack on a plate and top with a fried egg.
Mexican Spice Blend
2 tablespoons ground chili powder
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
Mix together and place in a jar for use as needed.
Authentic Red Enchilada Sauce
6 medium dried ancho chiles, dried
4 medium guajillo chiles, dried
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of ¼ to ½ fresh lime
Pinch of sugar, as needed
Heat a heavy skillet or griddle over medium. Tear the chillies into flat pieces and, few at a time, press them against the hot surface with a metal spatula, flip them over and press again; you will see them blister and change color.
Soak chilies in hot water for at least an hour, preferably 2 -3 hours. Reserve a cup of the soaking water.
Roast the garlic in the pan for about 15 minutes, turning regularly, until almost blackened, and soft inside. Remove from the pan, allow to cool and then peel.
Remove the stems from the chiles and puree in a blender with all the other ingredients, except the lime juice and sugar.
The sauce will be thick. I like a thicker enchilada sauce, but if you like, you can make the sauce thinner by adding a bit of the water from the soaked chilies, as you like. Add sugar as desired. I also like to add a couple squeezes of fresh lime juice for a bit of extra tartness.
You can place any extra sauce in a jar and keep it in the fridge for many weeks.
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