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Author Notes: Adapted from Spike Gjerde's recipe for Smoky Chicken Enchiladas in the WSJ, this is the most unfussy enchilada recipe I've ever made, and it's incredibly delicious. The sauce begins by broiling onions and garlic until they are charred in spots. It then simmers for 7 minutes with a can of tomatoes, water, and chipotles in adobo (or rehydrated dried chilies if you want to stick to the original recipe). That's it!
Tortillas: I am partial to tortillas made with a mix of flour and corn. Whole Foods Market sells my favorite, but I also like Trader Joe's, pictured above, which are a little thicker than WF's. Use whatever you like. If you prefer all corn, use all corn. If you prefer flour, use all flour. I've made this with a mix of three different tortillas, and they all taste good once sauced and cheesed.
Heat level can be amped up by adding a tablespoon of the chipotle in adobo sauce. If you are sensitive to heat, I wouldn't use more than 1 chipotle in adobo.
I think this could easily be made vegetarian — I'm trying kale and mushrooms tonight. I'll report back!
If you don't want to poach chicken breasts, you could use rotisserie chicken, which is what the original recipe calls for. —Alexandra Stafford
Serves 6 to 8
- 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
- 6 cloves garlic
- kosher salt
- 1 28-oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
- 1 to 2 chipotles in adobo, see notes above
- 14 corn tortillas, see notes above
- 9 ounces grated cheese, such as Monterey Jack or sharp Cheddar
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 6 scallions
- Preheat the broiler to high. Place the chicken breasts in a small pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pan and remove it from the heat.
- Place onions and garlic on a small sheet pan and season with salt all over. Broil until well charred in spots, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from broiler and set aside. Set oven temperature to 425 degrees.
- Place tomatoes, charred onions and garlic, ½ cup water, and 1 to 2 chipotles in adobo (depending on heat tolerance, see notes above). Bring liquid to a simmer and cook until onions soften, about 7 minutes. Off heat, use a handheld blender or food processor to purée to a thick, smooth, uniform sauce, taking care with hot liquid. Set sauce back over low heat and gently simmer to keep warm.
- Remove chicken from poaching liquid and set on a plate to cool. Once cool enough to handle, pull chicken into shreds. Coat bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with a thin layer of sauce. Arrange a single layer of tortillas over sauce, trimming edges to fit. Add chicken to the pot with the remaining sauce.
- Spoon a thin layer of sauce/chicken over tortillas and top with a loose layer of grated cheese. Sprinkle over some cilantro and scallions. Continue layering tortillas, sauce, cheese, scallions, herbs until dish is nearly full. End with a layer of tortillas, a layer of sauce and a final layer of cheese. You should have three layers of tortillas.
- Bake enchiladas on top rack of oven until cheese topping bubbles and browns in spots, 15-20 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and scallions and serve immediately.