Tag Archives: ancho peppers

Grilled, Beer-Brined Chicken Enchiladas

I usually use poached chicken in enchiladas, but have even used rotisserie chicken, which is always moist and gives me chicken from all parts of the bird. Just for something a little different, I decided to grill some flattened and beer-brined chicken breasts for these enchiladas, and it made all the difference. The brined chicken was the definition of succulent.

We were fond of red and white enchiladas—using both enchilada and cheese sauces—until my husband’s lactose intolerance, so I’m skipping the cheese sauce, using a little more enchilada sauce, and less shredded cheddar. I make my own enchilada sauce, which has been posted on this site a few times, I think, and it makes a big difference. If you have never tasted enchilada sauce that doesn’t use tomatoes, I urge you to try it. Here’s the recipe again, adjusted to make 3 cups:

Enchilada Sauce

  • Servings: about 3 cups
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Prepare Reconstituted Dried Chiles

  1. Rinse 6-8 dried ancho chiles, remove stems and seeds
  2. Tear into pieces so they fit in a small container or bowl
  3. Cover with 3 cups boiling water, submerging the peppers as much as possible; cover container with plastic wrap
  4. Set aside for at least 45 minutes; reconstituted peppers will be dark red, soft, and pliable
  5. Place reconstituted chiles in blender with half the liquid and puree, adding the rest of the liquid through the lid opening
  6. Strain puree through a fine strainer to remove large pieces of pulp—stir slowly in the strainer with a spoon until all the liquid is out and only the pepper fiber remains in the strainer (about 5 minutes)

Prepare Enchilada Sauce

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil  and 2 cloves of grated garlic in saucepan over medium heat until you can smell the garlic
  2. Stir in 2 tablespoon flour until smooth
  3. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  4. Pour in pepper puree and 2 tablespoon white or rice vinegar
  5. Stir and simmer until slightly thickened

Grilled, Beer-Brined Chicken Enchiladas

  • Servings: 8-10 enchiladas
  • Difficulty: easy
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At least 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 cups enchilada sauce

1 small onion, diced

1 3/4-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

8-10 8″ flour tortillas

Prepare chicken:

  1. Flatten breasts to a uniform thickness, maybe a little less than 1/2″, between plastic wrap.
  2. Place chicken in large dish with brine (see below).
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and brine for at least 4 hours.
  4. Remove chicken from brine and grill over direct heat, turning once, closing grill lid between turnings. The chicken cooks after about 5 minutes per side at 300° but use a thermometer to test for an internal temperature of about 165°
  5. On a large cutting board, pull the grilled chicken into large shreds. I only used 3 of the breasts for 7 good sized enchiladas. The two breasts left over will not go to waste!
  6. Mix the pulled chicken with about 1 cup of enchilada sauce and 1 small diced onion.
  7. Fill 8″ tortillas (mine were whole grain) with about 1/3-1/2 cup of the meat and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.
  8. Place filled tortillas in large baking dish with about 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce spread over the bottom.
  9. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce down the center of your row of enchiladas and sprinkle with more cheddar.
  10. Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and edges of tortillas are beginning to brown.


  1. 2 12 oz bottles beer
  2. 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  3. 1 tablespoon chili powder

I also made a small pot of black beans, but I’m retired, so don’t feel like you have to go all out.

Country Style Ribs and Black Beans

Some of my favorite bean recipes come from Annie Somerville’s Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant. (New York: Bantam, 1993). Today’s dinner is inspired by her “Warm Black Beans with Chilies and Cilantro” (p. 271), which first got me hooked on how much the addition of citrus and vinegar complement black beans. I don’t care for cilantro and am neither going to use peppers that are too hot, today, but a variation of this recipe will be combined with some slow-roasted pork ribs for one of those one-dish meals perfect for a Friday night.

The other influence today is Gordon’s Grub Rub®, a rub we came to like when we lived in Arkansas and Texas. It’s a tenderizer, as well as a flavoring, so when you want that feature, it’s a good product. We order it online, now, and while I wish they had a snazzier web site, it works.

Add a bottle of beer to the roasting pan and what could go wrong?

Country Style Pork Ribs and Black Beans

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy, but time consuming
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For ribs:

Preheat oven to 325°

3 lbs country style pork ribs, boneless or bone-in

1 cup Gordon’s Grub Rub® or your favorite meat rub

2 large onions, sliced 1/2″ thick and separated

1 12 oz bottle beer

  1. Line the bottom of a roasting pan with 1/2″ sliced onions.
  2. Shake the ribs and rub in a large plastic bag until well coated. It really does stick to the meat, as they say.
  3. Place the ribs in a layer on top of the onions and pour the beer in the bottom of the pan.
  4. Roast for about 3 hours. They should be fall apart tender and the onions and beer and rub should have caramelized into a sticky deliciousness. My intent is to pull the ribs into big chunks to add to bowls of the black beans, but really they will fall apart on their own.

For the beans:

1 lb dried black beans, rinsed and sorted

6 cups water

1 onion, diced

2 tablespoons chopped garlic—I had about 5 small cloves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

salt to taste

1 cup ancho chile puree (see below), using 2 small dried ancho peppers and 1 cup of water

splash of rice vinegar, about 1 tablespoon

  1. Place beans in large saucepan with water. Bring to boil and boil 2 minutes, then turn off heat. Cover pan and soak for 1 hour.
  2. Return to boil, and then simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
  3. You can adjust the amount of liquid in the beans by cooking uncovered at a low heat (higher than a simmer) for the second hour. You can also thicken the beans by mashing some of them.
  4. While the beans are cooking, make the chile mixture:
    1. Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until tender.
    2. Add the cumin, oregano, and salt, stirring.
    3. Stir in the chile puree and vinegar. simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chile mixture to the beans and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes.

Serve the beans with chunks of the cooked ribs and a big dollop of sour cream. You can top with some shredded Monterrey Jack cheese and salsa, too.

Ancho chile puree:

  1. Rinse dried chiles and remove stems and seeds
  2. Tear into pieces so they fit in a small container or bowl
  3. Cover with boiling water; cover container with plastic wrap
  4. Set aside for about 45 minutes
  5. Place reconstituted chiles in blender with part of the liquid, adding more as needed to make a purée about the consistency of tomato juice
  6. Strain puree through a fine strainer to remove remaining pieces of pepper skins

Chicken Tamale Casserole

Long ago, I tried a recipe for tamale pie and it was terrible. The corn batter was on the top and came out crisp and dry, not at all like a tamale, where the corn-based dough is steamed inside a corn husk. There is not much comparison between steamed dough and baked dough. Recipes that try to literally reproduce a tamale in casserole form make a mistake by using the same formulas in a new format. Translation requires substitution and adjustment. The point of translating a recipe is achieving similar flavors and textures in a new format.  Despite that first failure, I thought I’d try a different approach, a casserole with a guaranteed moist corn dough on the bottom and a meat filling on top. This time the results were great, even if not an exact replication of a tamale.

I had this lovely bunch of poblano and Anaheim peppers to roast, peel, and freeze, so I just decided to incorporate a few of the poblanos into the casserole as well, in their own layer. In addition, I made some enchilada sauce for the top meat layer from ancho peppers, which are simply dried poblanos, so this recipe is a nice example of poblanos two ways.


The crux of the recipe was figuring out how to get a moist layer reminiscent of the corn dough in a tamale, but the right consistency for a casserole. I went through a lot of possibilities in my mind, from actual tamale dough made with masa flour to modified corn breads. I’m still working on trying something new, but decided today to go with something I know works, my go-to recipe for “Corn Casserole” from the Angels and Friends cookbook that I talked about in the “Banana Bread” recipe a few days ago. It’s simple, but everyone loves it, and it’s made from mostly ready made ingredients. The only problem with this old recipe is that I can’t find Freshlike corn anymore and their cans were always small, so I bought the regular larger can of creamed corn and just used half of it. You can follow this recipe as is, just use small cans of corn, or half cans of the 15 oz size. The cheese in the photo goes on top of the casserole and is not part of the corn casserole. Please make the corn casserole even if you don’t want the rest of this recipe; you will not regret it.


Actually, it’s easy to put together and bake.

Chicken Tamale Casserole

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
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I did a lot of made from scratch steps today, including making some chicken stock from the leftover thigh bones, but you will see from the ingredients, that most of them can be purchased and just assembled.

Preheat oven to 350°; grease a 2 1/2 quart baking dish to accommodate both the corn casserole and the topping layers


2 cups pulled chicken (I cooked 4 chicken thighs and pulled the meat off the bone)

1 cup enchilada sauce (I made my own from reconstituted ancho peppers; recipe below)

2-3 poblano peppers, peeled, seeded, and cut in strips

1 recipe Corn Casserole

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese (I used Sargento® 4 Cheese Mexican)

Mix all the ingredients for the corn casserole and pour into baking dish. Top with pepper strips. Combine chicken and enchilada sauce and cover top of casserole. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes, then top with cheese and continue to cook for 15 minutes, for a total of about 45 minutes.

You can see that this is pretty simple if you buy a rotisserie chicken and canned peppers and enchilada sauce.

Enchilada Sauce

  • Servings: about 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Prepare Reconstituted Dried Chiles

  1. Rinse 6-8 dried ancho chiles, remove stems and seeds
  2. Tear into pieces so they fit in a small container or bowl
  3. Cover with boiling water; cover container with plastic wrap
  4. Set aside for about 45 minutes
  5. Place reconstituted chiles in blender with part of the liquid, adding more as needed to make a purée about the consistency of tomato juice
  6. Strain puree through a fine strainer to remove large pieces of pulp

Prepare Enchilada Sauce

  1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 2 cloves of garlic in saucepan until infused with garlic (about 3 minutes)
  2. Stir in 1 tablespoon flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  3. Pour in pepper puree and 1 tablespoon vinegar
  4. Simmer until slightly thickened