Sometimes you just know. You know when you’ve found a fantastic recipe. One that’s better than anything you’ve made in ages. One that’s better than anything you’ve blogged about in ages. One that is so awesome you plan on making a huge batch in order to freeze multiple servings so that you can pull a pan out of the freezer whenever your little heart desires, pop it in the oven and an hour later pull out a no-fuss meal that continues to knock your socks off each time you eat it. This, my friends, is one of those recipes.
I kid you not. I know I said the baked shrimp scampi last week was incredible and I meant it but this is incredible on a different level. On a I-can-finally-make-awesome-Mexican-food-at-home level! While I’ve made and enjoyed two other enchiladas recipes in the past, neither really had the WOW factor both Kyle and I need for a recipe to be compared to restaurant quality. These definitely do. The red chile sauce was packed with flavor and it wasn’t overly spicy considering there is three tablespoons of chili powder (medium heat) and two jalepeños in it. The act of simmering the chicken in the sauce brings new life to ordinarily bland chicken and we fell in love with the juicy and flavorful chicken this method of cooking yielded. I realize this recipe can take on quite a few additions/substitutions so being the black bean lover that I am, I added a can into the mix – you’ll see my little change below along with the fact that I deleted the whole tomato from the recipe since Kyle isn’t a fan of chunky tomatoes in his food. In all honesty, I never missed the tomato. As I mentioned before, I plan to make a huge batch of these enchiladas in the next couple of weeks in order to have a bunch in the freezer…you’ll see my oven-freezer-oven-table instructions below…this recipe was that good!
Let’s talk freezer-friendly. These enchiladas definitely are a freezer-friendly meal. I split the full recipe in half, baking 6 enchiladas in an 8″x8″ glass dish for dinner that night and par baking the other 6 in an aluminum pan of the same size. By par baking, I mean that I baked them for the original 7 minutes then for only 8-10 after that at 400 degrees – without any cheese. I took them out of the oven to let them cool down to where the pan was cool to the touch (the enchiladas should not be completely cool at this point), wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap then in aluminum foil, remembering the writing the cooking directions on top with a Sharpie, and put the pan in the fridge to chill completely. Then I moved the pan to the freezer where it sat for about 6 weeks. They bake up after this freeze absolutely beautifully and if you can believe it, the edges retain quite a bit of the crunch you get from the original 7 minute bake at 425 degrees.
When you’re ready to bake them, here’s what you do:
- Preheat the oven to 375
- Unwrap the foil (reserving) and plastic wrap (discarded) from the pan, re-wrap it with the reserved foil
- Bake for 55 minutes or until the enchiladas in the center of pan are hot inside (check with a knife), add cheese (about 1/2 cup for an 8″x8″ pan), and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before you serve.
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine
- 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped fine
- 1 tsp canola oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 15 oz canned tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese, divided
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup minced fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
- 12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
- Cooking spray
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the onion, jalapeños, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large sauté pan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions and jalapeños have softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water, bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the thickest part registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate; set aside to cool. Strain the sauce through a medium-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on the onions to extract as much liquid as possible. Place onion mixture in a large bowl and set aside. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
- Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces. Add to the bowl along with the onion mixture. Add in 1/4 cup enchilada sauce, 1 cup cheddar cheese, the black beans, and the cilantro. Toss to combine.
- Stack and wrap the tortillas in a moist paper towel, place on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave on high until warm and pliable, about 45 seconds. Spread the warm tortillas out over a clean work surface. Place 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla. Tightly roll each tortilla around the filling and lay them seam-side down in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish.
- Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with vegetable oil spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 7 minutes until the tortillas are starting to slightly brown on the top. (If you don’t like a bit of crunch in your enchiladas, just skip this step completely)
- Reduce oven temperature to 400. Remove enchiladas from oven and pour remaining sauce over to coat them thoroughly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar down the center of the enchiladas. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese browns, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.