When I was trying to figure out what to call these faux enchiladas, I naturally asked my friend Bree because she is somewhat of an expert on Mexican food (being an heir to a tortilla empire and all). Our conversation went a little like this:
“What would you call enchiladas that aren’t really enchiladas? They have chicken, beans, corn, onions, peppers, and jalapeño in them.”
“Enchiladas are baked and served with a sauce. That’s what makes them enchiladas, those two characteristics.”
“These are baked, but the sauce is not a traditional enchilada sauce.”
“They sound like white people enchiladas.”
“I don’t think I can call them that.”
You my friends can call them whatever your heart desires. I first made this recipe several years ago and it has since morphed into a completely different variation that is an all-in-one type dinner. It’s perfect for leftovers, which I have become obsessed with ever since it was my responsibility to share in the cooking tasks. And with the temperature barely hovering above 20° outside right now, these faux enchiladas are perfectly comforting in all of their cheesy and warm goodness.
Three tablespoons safflower oil
Three teaspoons minced garlic
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
One teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
16 ounces chicken broth
½ cup water
One chopped jalapeño
One cup chopped red onion
¾ cup diced bell pepper
One cup chopped fresh cilantro
Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small pieces
One can of refried beans
1 ½ cups frozen corn
One cup shredded cheddar cheese
One cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
18 wheat tortillas (sadly Don Pancho tortillas are not easily found on the east coast, so instead I opt for the whole wheat variety from Whole Foods)
1. In a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, bring one inch salted water to a boil. Add chicken. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer five minutes and then remove skillet from heat. Let chicken steam, covered, until opaque throughout, 12 to 14 additional minutes. Transfer chicken to a medium bowl and shred with two forks. Set aside.
2. While chicken is cooking, make sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add garlic and sauté for one minute. Add the onion, pepper, and jalapeño and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add flour and spices and whisk for approximately one minute. Whisk in broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and whisk occasionally, until sauce has thickened slightly. Stir in cilantro.
3. Preheat oven to 375º. Pour ½ cup sauce into a lightly greased 9”x13” baking dish.
4. Transfer all but one cup sauce to bowl with chicken and toss to combine. Stir in the refried beans, corn, and ¼ cup each kind of cheese.
5. Fill each tortilla with chicken mixture; roll up tightly, and arrange in the baking dish. Cover with remaining sauce and cheese, however save some for the very top because you’ll likely create two layers with the tortillas.
6. Bake until hot and bubbling, about 30-35 minutes.