Tag Archives: enchilada sauce

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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Ingredients:

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.

Brine:

  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.

Pulled Pork Two Ways

Beyond pulled pork in a bun with coleslaw—and it is one of my favorite ways to eat pulled pork—what else can you do with that lovely pile of meat that is generally way too much for one meal? Yes, there are a lot of Mexican dishes that use pulled pork, and one of those is my second recipe here, but first, let’s do something savory that doesn’t involve peppers and melted cheese, followed by heartburn.

Pork and Sweet Potatoes

Pork and Sweet Potatoes with Thyme

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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This is a kind of a hash in appearance, but without poached or fried eggs on top. I’m kind of over the meme of the egg thrown on everything edible.

Let’s assume you have roasted a pork butt or shoulder and have about 1-1.5 lbs of the meat sitting around for one recipe. I didn’t immediately pull the meat off my roast, because I knew I wanted other options; I broke it into large chunks and divided it in half—one half to chop into rough cubes, the other to shred for the second day.

1-1.5 lbs roast pork butt or shoulder, seasoned in roasting with garlic, salt, and pepper, cut roughly in medium cubes or shredded

3 cups sweet potatoes, cut in medium dice

1/3 cup shallots, in small dice

Olive oil and butter for sautéing

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (more if using fresh thyme)

  1. In a large skillet, heat about 2-3 tablespoons oil and an equal amount of butter over medium to medium-high heat, until hot but not smoking. I’m nuts about the combination of these two fats.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes and stir to combine with the fat. Cover for about 5 minutes to steam them a little, then uncover and add the shallots and thyme. Keep stirring until the potatoes are tender. They will brown lightly with this method, but you could fry them uncovered for more browning. Basically, you want the potatoes to cook through without overcooking or burning the shallots and thyme, so hold off on adding them too soon.
  3. At the last, stir in the diced pork and heat through. If your pork is like mine, there should be some juices from the roasting, which will be gelatinous if you have refrigerated it, and that flavor needs to be combined with the potatoes.

I say it serves 2-4, because my husband finished it off, so it was two in our house, even with a side vegetable.

Pulled Pork Enchiladas

On day two, which was the day before Cinco de Mayo, the remaining pork was pulled into shreds for enchiladas. I made them rather simply this time to highlight the meat.

Pulled Pork Enchiladas

  • Servings: 8 enchiladas
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
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Preheat oven to 350°

1.5 lbs pulled pork, seasoned in roasting with garlic, salt, and pepper

2 4.5 oz cans diced chiles

1 large onion, diced

1 lb Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

8 tortillas—I used whole wheat flour tortillas in a soft taco size to fit crosswise in a 13″ x 9″ baking dish

3 cups enchilada sauce—I made my own, but you could use canned sauce

  1. See my enchilada sauce recipe here, increasing the ingredients to make 3 cups. It will take about an hour to make. Otherwise, this recipe is just a quick construction with pre-cooked meat.
  2. Place pulled pork in large skillet with the canned chiles and heat over medium heat until warm.
  3. Stir in the raw onions.
  4. Spread 1 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of your baking dish.
  5. Place about 1/2-3/4 cup of the shredded meat mixture in a tortilla and top with 1 oz of the shredded cheese. Roll tight and place in dish, seam side down. Repeat to fill the dish.
  6. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas—I like to see the ends of the tortillas sticking out, but it’s not written in stone.
  7. Top with the remaining 1/2 lb of shredded cheese.
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.

This made enough that we could still have some for Cinco de Mayo.

Beef Enchiladas

Well, these happen to be beef, but they work with a variety of fillings. Today I used ground beef, but most of the time I use pulled chicken or beef from a chuck roast. Pulled pork is another great filling, or you could just use an all cheese filling. Enchiladas are always impressive in a restaurant, all filled and rolled and baked in a sauce smothered with melted cheese, but they are really easy to make. With chicken, I often make a red and white version, using two sauces, cheese and enchilada. That version does take a little more work.

I do go the extra step of making my own enchilada sauce, but maybe you have access to a good quality commercial version. I’m afraid the canned ones around here are just not as flavorful as mine—plus they have tomato sauce in them, which just doesn’t mesh with our idea of enchiladas. I think I’ve posted my enchilada sauce recipe before, but here it comes again:

Enchilada Sauce

  • Servings: about 2 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 2 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

Prepare Enchilada Sauce

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

Beef Enchiladas

  • Servings: 8 enchiladas
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°

1 lb ground beef, 80% lean or higher

1 medium onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground ancho pepper

1 cup sour cream

1 lb cheddar cheese, grated

2 cups enchilada sauce

8 whole wheat flour tortillas (8 inch soft taco size fits well in most rectangular baking dishes)

  • Brown ground beef in large saute pan. Add onion and seasonings, continuing to stir until the onion is beginning to soften and the spices are fragrant
  • Turn off heat and stir in sour cream*
  • Spread about 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce in bottom of baking dish to prevent sticking
  • Fill each tortilla with beef mixture and top with 2-3 tablespoons of grated cheese; roll and place in baking dish
  • Top with remaining enchilada sauce; as you can see, I don’t worry about covering all the tortilla edges—the dish should not be soupy
  • Top with the remaining cheese
  • Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown and sauce is bubbling at edges

Other enchilada ideas:

  1. Use a drier meat mixture, serving sour cream as a garnish at serving
  2. Mix chicken with cheese sauce for filling, using enchilada sauce for topping
  3. Prepare shredded beef or pork that has been seasoned during roasting for filling
  4. Use uncooked diced onion in filling for more texture and a stronger onion flavor
  5. Skip the enchilada sauce and use only a cheese sauce—plus grated cheese—for topping

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

The same friend who gives us the peppers gave us a package of 16 perch fillets, and I have a preference for fried fish when we have it, so I thought this would be a good time to use my favorite beer batter recipe, one I usually use for onion rings. It is the world’s simplest batter with only two ingredients—beer and flour, equal amounts. It makes the crispiest, lightest onion rings you ever had and they stay crispy in a slow oven (200° F) while you fry the rest. It seems to me a lot like a tempura batter in texture, light and crispy. I really don’t like an egg-heavy batter that ends up being like a deep-fried pancake around the food you are trying to highlight.

Today the batter goes on perch, and the perch go into tortillas with crispy lettuce and avocado and a zippy sauce.

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

  • Servings: 1-2 pcs fish per taco
  • Difficulty: easy
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Beer Batter

Beer

Flour

  • Mix equal parts beer and all-purpose flour—I used one cup of each. The batter will be slightly lumpy, but don’t worry about it.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on kitchen counter for three hours. I think I read once that this breaks down the gluten in the batter, but I’m not sure why this is good for the final result.

Fried Fish

Preheat vegetable oil in deep fryer or deep pot to 350°

  • Put the fish in the batter—I had 16 perch fillets—and take out about 4 pieces at a time to deep fry until golden, about 4-5 minutes. It helps to immediately lift them with a long fork so they start frying before sticking to the basket.
  • Remove with tongs and drain on paper towels while frying the rest. Put plate of fish in oven at 200° F to keep warm while frying the rest.
  • Salt the fish, or onion rings if that’s what you’re making, after frying.

Assembling Tacos

Fried fish fillets

Small corn or fajita-sized flour tortillas

Lettuce

Avocado slices or prepared guacamole

Cheese: queso fresco or cotija, crumbled

Sauce with a kick: I combined about 2 tablespoons homemade enchilada sauce with 1/3 cup mayonnaise

Do I really need to tell you how to assemble food in a tortilla?

Assembling food well in a tortilla is more about figuring out the order that will stay in the tortilla through eating the whole thing than it is about how pretty it looks in your blog photo. I have found that the prettiest constructions fall apart immediately. I have since become a firm believer in spreading whatever sauce you use on the tortilla first, even under the lettuce. Speaking of lettuce, I recommend that you fall in love with whole lettuce leaves, whether Bibb, romaine, or iceberg, because shredded lettuce is just going to fall out everywhere. Stick that lettuce leaf to the sauce, then add the meat piece or pieces and arrange any toppings, like avocado and cheese, sparingly. If you can lay slices of avocado or tomato or pepper next to the meat instead of on top, that will help in folding up the tortilla.

This particular recipe makes use of small tortillas that are simply folded in half and not rolled like burritos, so something may fall out and you just have to come to terms with it.