Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chicken enchiladas

I love searching for new recipes. In my pile of cookbooks I find inspiration, but I usually arrive at some sort of combination from cookbooks and online recipes. This weekend, I had the perfect, healthy, low-fat dinner planned. A whole roasted chicken, with baby artichokes and a green salad. I had the pile of herbs ready to go and the plump, farm raised plan was "hatched" (ha!) until my husband says, I want tacos. Tacos? Are you kidding me? Then I remembered he spent an entire year as a little boy eating nothing but tacos and wearing his Dallas Cowboys jersey. So... we settled on enchiladas.
I agreed to the enchilada request and set out on my search for a great Mexican shredded chicken recipe. My last enchilada experience was at Carlos and Charlies in Aruba and the food was horrible (although, we shouldn't have been surprised). I still don't know why we went there. They seriously used canned chicken meat (!?!?!?) in the enchiladas and tacos. We were shocked. To my delight, I discovered the ONLY way to cook chicken that is perfectly seasoned and tender and a couple of great new sites. The chicken could be utilized in tacos, enchiladas, soups, whatever. Minor changes in the spices would lend it to Italian or other ethnic dishes.
Chicken enchiladas, with refried black beans, guacamole and chips. Pairs perfectly with a nice, Mexican beer. My disappointment is long gone. The baby artichokes will have to wait.

But this didn't....

Mexican Shredded Chicken
By Kate Heyhoe
Yield: About 4 to 5 cups shredded chicken, plus broth
1 whole chicken cut into pieces, with bone and skin (about 3 pounds)

1 small onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican

2 bay leaves

Pinch of dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

Arrange the chicken pieces snugly in a large, deep saucepan or pot. Sprinkle on the onion, garlic, marjoram, oregano, bay leaves, thyme and salt. Add enough water to just cover the chicken.
Bring the liquid to a boil on high heat. Partially cover and reduce the heat to low, so the liquid just simmers. (Make sure the liquid does not boil again.) Cook for 7 minutes, then cover the pot completely and remove from the heat. Let the chicken cool in the broth for 30 minutes to 1 hour. (I freaked and left it for a little over an hour, I didn't want to kill anyone.)

Tomato sauce:

2 pt red grape or cherry tomatoes (1 1/2 lb)

5 large garlic cloves

2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoon taco seasoning

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup warm water

juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 small yellow onion chopped

1 small can of green chilis

10 - 12 corn tortillas

1 pound of shredded colby jack cheese

1 bunch finely chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 250°F.
Halve tomatoes through stem ends and arrange, cut sides up, in 1 layer in a large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan. Add three garlic cloves (unpeeled) to pan, sprinkle with half oregano and taco seasoning; roast in middle of oven until tomatoes are slightly shriveled around edges, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on a rack 30 minutes.
Peel garlic and purée with oil, water, lime juice, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes in a blender until dressing is very smooth. Add remaining tomatoes and seasonings, continue to puree until smooth.

In separate deep saucepan sauté the chopped onion and two minced garlic cloves. Add shredded chicken, sauce, can of chilis and 1/2 to 1 cup of remaining broth from chicken. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes so chicken breaks down and flavors blend.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large fry pan at high heat add 3 Tbsp of canola oil. Add a tortilla to the pan. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift up the tortilla with a spatula, add another tortilla underneath. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift again, both tortillas, and add another tortilla underneath. Repeat the process with all the tortillas, adding a little more oil if needed. This way you can brown and soften the tortillas without using a lot of fat. You do this process to develop the flavor of the tortillas. As the tortillas brown a little, remove from the pan one by one to rest on a paper towel, which absorbs any excess fat.

Put some olive oil on the bottom of a large casserole pan. Take a tortilla, spread chicken and sauce in middle, cover it lightly with the shredded cheese and a sprinkle fresh cilantro, then roll up the tortilla and place it in the casserole pan. Continue until all tortillas are filled and rolled. Cover with remaining chicken and sauce and remaining shredded cheese. Put the casserole in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese melts.

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