I know the picture is not as saucy/cheesy as it should be; I was only able to photograph them after I brought the leftovers back and they had been sitting over sterno for quite awhile at that point.
As far as the recipe goes, this was completely a controlled accident. I didn’t have specific measurements in mind, but knew what I was going for: a nice, smoky, complex red sauce. So I continued to just add things and decide against things until I had the right balance! The chicken I just boiled, shredded, and tosses with some vegetable oil and adobo spices – putting plain chicken inside would just be boring, right?
So here’s the recipe. First I just want to say if anyone happens to be reading in Boston, my thoughts are with you and please stay safe. This has been a rotten, rotten week in Massachusetts and Texas and the thing that is so reassuring are the images of people helping and the humanity that arises in the face of such heinous acts. When the world seems at its darkest, the kindness that lives in most people can really light the place up. I was in New York on 9/11 and was shocked by the heart of the city, and Boston is finding that heart and strength now, as is West, Texas. We are here to take care of each other.
Roja Chicken Enchiladas
1 package boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Adobo spices (Goya brand, if possible)
1 yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 carton Pomi tomato sauce
3 C chicken stock
2 Dried Ancho Chiles, stems and seeds removed
1 Dried Guajillo Chile, stem and seeds removed
1/4 C cilantro leaves
2 T lime juice
2 tsp ground cumin
3 T Chipotle chile powder
2 T garlic powder
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 1/2 C queso fresco, crumbled
2 C Monterey Jack, shredded
2 C Medium Cheddar, shredded
Bring a large pot of water to a light boil. Add the chicken breasts and cook about 15 – 20 minutes, until cooked through. Drain chicken and set aside to cool.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 T vegetable oil. Add the garlic and onions and stir, cooking a couple of minutes. Pour in the diced tomatoes and let some of the liquid cook off, then pour in the Pomi tomato sauce and the stock. Place the dried peppers and cilantro in the liquid and bring to a simmer. Cook on low 1 hour. The dried peppers should reconstitute during the cooking process. When done, working in batches, place the sauce into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the sauce back into the pan and add spices (but not the salt!). Let cook an additional 30-45 minutes, until thickened and flavorful. Add salt to taste.
Shred the chicken breasts in a bowl. Combine the adobo spice packets (two at most) with a little vegetable oil and then stir to combine in a small bowl. Pour the spice/oil mixture over the shredded chicken and toss until the chicken is evenly coated. It will look bright orange.
To assemble the enchiladas, pour a little sauce on the bottom of a pyrex or stoneware baking dish. Heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet, and one by one cook the tortillas until both sides are golden and crisp. Fill each tortilla with some chicken and the blend of cheeses, and just line them up in the dish until it’s full. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of the tortillas, then pour enough sauce on top to cover. Refrigerate and save any remaining sauce or serve alongside cooked enchiladas. Cook enchiladas at 350 F for 30 minutes, or until bubbling and hot. Enjoy!