Venturing south of the border

13 May

My experience with cooking Mexican food reaches as far as opening a packet of taco seasoning and dumping it on ground beef with some water, then putting the taco meat in a tortilla with lettuce and cheese. That “recipe” definitely works for busy nights when I want a taco fix, but I realized recently I ought to try branching out. I’ve managed to get away from the semi-homemade realm of cooking for other cuisines, but not yet Mexican.

I don’t feel ready to venture into the more authentic Mexican dishes, like mole, but I feel that starting with dishes like enchiladas are a good stepping stone. This recipe seemingly has more ingredients and steps than I’d normally bother with on a weeknight, but it turned out delicious and we did manage to eat by around 9pm, not too late. In hindsight, it might’ve helped to have cooked and shredded the chicken the night before, or just bought a rotisserie chicken and shredded it. Cooking chicken breasts and then shredding them myself was way more laborious than I thought it would be and it added a considerable amount to my cooking time. At least I got a bit of muscle out of it.

Huge upside to this dish: it’s healthy. I’m not on Weight Watchers, but I love that Gina’s Skinny Recipes includes nutritional info (along with WW points). I knew to just have 2 enchiladas at most per meal, which was still filling and not nearly as caloric as what you’d probably find at Chevy’s.  And it was so tasty. The cumin and oregano really combined well with the tomato flavor, and I was happy with the spice level using just 2 chipotle chiles. Also, this dish was easy to just pair with whatever vegetables I had on hand to balance out my plate. I just sauteed some asparagus and diced shallot in olive oil and sprinkled artisan pepper salt toward the end of cooking. (I would definitely recommend this Didi Davis Artisan Food Sumac Pepper Salt – I received a sample of it in a Foodzie tasting box and now I sprinkle it every time I sauteé or roast vegetables now.)

I think these were worthy of being called restaurant-quality. Granted, it’s slim pickins’ here in DC so if I can manage to make a delicious Mexican dish at home instead of wasting $15 on it at a restaurant, I’m all for that. The Bf and I were both really happy with how this turned out, so I know I’ll make it again, whether that’s for a few days’ of meals or for a gathering (this would’ve been great for a Cinco de Mayo party but we just went out drinking instead…).

Chicken Enchiladas (from Gina’s Skinny Recipes)

For the sauce:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (my Safeway has an Hispanic foods section, so I imagine most supermarkets have the same or at least an international section. I think brand I used was Goya.)
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup fat free chicken broth
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the chicken: 

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 8.5 oz (2 breast halves) cooked shredded chicken breast
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 8 (6-inch) reduced carb whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded low fat Mexican cheese
  • Nonstick cooking spray
In a medium saucepan, spray oil and sauté garlic. Add chipotle chiles, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic on low until soft, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, salt, cilantro, cumin, oregano, chili powder, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Spray a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Put 1/3 cup chicken mixture into each tortilla and roll it. Place on baking dish seam side down. Top with sauce and cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes.
Let cool for a few minutes before serving – Gina suggest sour cream and/or scallions – I ate it with sour cream and it helped offset the spiciness nicely.

Do you have a favorite Mexican dish?

2 Responses to “Venturing south of the border”

  1. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide May 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    That looks great. I love carne asada, in response to your question.

  2. Jenny May 13, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Love the chicken enchiladas. Anything with cheese is amazing 😀

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