Chicken & Spinach Enchiladas. Easy & Cheesy.
I don’t claim that these are in any way “authentic” Mexican enchiladas. Far from it. For proof, please refer to the photo of me with red hair and freckles.
I DO claim that they are delicious!
Here’s what you need:
2 chicken breasts*, chicken broth (low-sodium), onion, corn tortillas, baby spinach, 3 (4.5 ounce) cans of diced green chilis, sour cream, pepper jack cheese, butter, flour, cilantro (optional), olive oil, salt & pepper (not pictured).
*Time Saving Tip from the Resident Idiot — I buy bone-in, skin-on, chicken breasts when they are on sale – usually in a package of 5 or 6 chicken breast halves. Then, I bake them in the oven (directions to follow) so I have chicken ready to go for other recipes during the week. It takes the same time to cook 5 chicken pieces as it does to cook 2. The cooked chicken meat can also be removed from the bones and frozen for use later.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil, drizzle the chicken breasts with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. The juice from the chicken should be a clear, golden color when they are fully cooked.
Set the chicken aside to cool slightly so that the juices can be reabsorbed into the meat and so you don’t burn off your fingertips in the next step.
When the chicken has cooled, remove the skin. Using your fingers, gently pull the meaty part of the chicken breast away from the bones. This should be pretty easy if you’ve been patient and allowed your chicken to cool.
Use your fingers to pull the chicken meat apart into smallish shredded pieces.
Shredding chicken makes you very popular in my house.
Meanwhile, chop or dice a large onion into small pieces.
Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to a LARGE skillet and saute the onions until tender and just beginning to brown.
Add 1 can of chopped green chilies to the onions.
NOTE: if you like things spicy, you might also want to add a diced jalapeno pepper to this mixture as the canned chilies are really quite mild.
Add the shredded chicken to the pan.
Add 1 cup of low-sodium chicken broth.
Next grab a bag of baby spinach. If you’re a freak like me, re-wash the pre-washed spinach. If you’re slightly more trusting (read, normal) give the spinach a rough chop and add it to the pan.
Don’t worry if this totally fills up your pan. It will shrink way down as it cooks. You can put a lid on the pan to speed things along.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and let the spinach continue to cook and wilt.
In a separate sauce pan, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter. Add 2 Tablespoons of flour and stir to make a roux — fancy French cooking term for paste that thickens sauce.
Cook the flour/butter roux for a minute to create a nutty smelling, light colored paste.
Add 2 cups of chicken broth to the roux. Stir or whisk to until smooth and lump free.
As you whisk, the flour will thicken the sauce.
Bring the sauce up to a simmer or gentle boil so that it can achieve it’s maximum thickness. This is a trick to cooking with a roux…the sauce must come up to a gentle boil or it will not thicken properly. Of course, this means that you need to be there stirring it to ensure that it does not burn.
See? Nice, thick and velvety smooth sauce. Add 2 cans of diced green chilis to the sauce.
Grate an 8 ounce block of pepper jack cheese.
Did you know that it is cheaper to grate your own cheese? Not only that, but when you buy the bags of pre-grated cheese, they put cellulose powder in with the cheese to keep it from sticking together. Ummmm….cellulose. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?
Add 1/2 of the grated cheese to the sauce and stir to combine and melt the cheese.
Remove the sauce from the heat and add 1 cup (8 ounces) of sour cream.
Set the sauce aside while we make the enchiladas.
Wrap 4 or 5 corn tortillas in damp paper towels. Make a nice little package and nuke them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to make them bendable.
I only do about 5 tortillas at a time to keep them warm and pliable. If they get cold, they will crack when you fold them.
Fill each tortilla down the middle with the chicken and spinach mixture. Using tongs or a slotted spoon will make it easier to get the chicken and spinach without too much of the cooking liquid.
Fold in the sides…
And place the filled enchilada SEAM SIDE DOWN in a large baking dish. It is a good idea to coat the baking dish with a little non-stick spray to make your life and clean-up easier.
Don’t panic if your tortillas split a little once they are in the pan. We have cheesy sauce that will cover up any imperfections. If you are having trouble with the tortillas breaking while you are filling them, try wetter paper towels and another trip to the microwave to soften them up.
Once your enchiladas are rolled and your pan is full, pour the delicious, cheesy, creamy sauce all over the top.
Spread it out so it gets in all the little nooks and crannies.
See if you have enough will-power not to lick the spoon…I plead the fifth on this one.
Top with the remaining grated pepper jack cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the top is golden brown.
Bubbly, cheesy, golden, cheesy, delicious, cheesy.
Top with some fresh chopped cilantro OR if you are anti-cilantro (and you know who you are) some chopped green onions.
Cheese is good. So are these enchiladas. Try not to eat the whole pan.
Here’s the Recipe!
Chicken & Spinach Enchiladas