Chicken Enchiladas, New Mexico Style

Chicken Enchiladas, New Mexico Style

My grandson, “Matty” (officially, Timothy Amatus), had a birthday coming up recently, and by our custom he got to choose the main course for the regular weekly family dinner that preceded his big day. Chicken enchiladas was his immediate request. “Enchilada,” by the way, is Mexican Spanish for “prepared in chiles.”

Dish: Maria Dondero, Marmalade Pottery, Athens GA
When I used to make enchiladas, which was only occasionally, I did the individually rolled-up style that is typical. But it’s pretty tedious when making a large batch. At our restaurant, Donderos’ Kitchen, we make enchiladas for the freezer for customers to take home, thaw and bake. Recently we started making them in the easier style that I encountered years ago in Albuquerque, New Mexico. But that turns out to be the more general New Mexico style. Basically the tortillas (of corn, not flour) are used like lasagna sheets with stacked layers of tortilla and filling with cheese and salsa, rather than stuffing and rolling individual tortillas.

For Matty’s enchiladas, the sauce I used was a tomato-based fresh salsa (like the one used for dipping tortilla chips into) to moisten the tortillas in the enchiladas, rather than the more typical New Mexico red chile, which is basically ground dry red chilies cooked into a sauce. (The salsa fresca I used was described in my blog post of 8/26/2019).

The recipe serves 6 for a main course or 12 for starter course. For dinner, accompany with rice cooked with salt and chicken broth plus a bean dish. Accompany with sour cream, lime wedges, and cilantro on the side.

1 1/2 pounds lightly roasted chicken breast* or 1 rotisserie chicken (use bones and skin for broth)
24 (4-inch) corn tortillas
4 cups tomato-based salsa (see my blog post of 8/26/2019 and make one batch, or use commercial medium-hot salsa)
1 pound grated Mexican-style cheese mix, Monterrey Jack or white cheddar
1 cup sour cream for serving

*If using home-roasted chicken, roast trimmed boneless and skinless breast halves sprinkled lightly with salt, paprika, ground allspice, cumin and oregano.

If using home-roasted chicken, cut it in thin slices and then crosswise into smaller pieces. If using rotisserie chicken, remove meat off chicken and cut meat into small chunks (reserve skin and bones for broth for cooking Mexican rice). Lightly salt cut-up chicken whether home-roasted or rotisserie.

Lightly oil a 9 by 12-inch casserole dish. Set oven for 350 degrees.

Spread 1/2 cup of salsa on the bottom of casserole. Lay six tortillas on the salsa. Distribute 1/3 of the chicken over the tortillas, then 1/4 of the cheese over the chicken. Distribute by spoonful 3/4 cup of salsa over the cheese. Follow with another layer of tortillas, then chicken, cheese and salsa. Repeat once more. Place the final six tortillas on top and smear their tops with the remaining 1 cup of salsa. Sprinkle the remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees on the bottom shelf or the oven (so the bottom heats well and the cheese on top does not overcook) until thoroughly heated, bubbling and cheese begins to turn golden on top, 40-50 minutes.

Serve with rice cooked with chicken broth (see my blog post of YYYY) and a bean dish, such as “Drunken Beans” (see my blog post of 8/26/2019) or “Refritos” (see my blog post of WWWW).

Accompany with sour cream to top the served enchiladas. Accompany with lime wedges and cilantro leaves to sprinkle on.

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