These enchiladas are especially wonderful for a cozy group of friends because, like all casseroles, you can assemble them early in the day or even a day before and just pop them into the oven when you’re having drinks. Even though it may be tempting to skip the tortilla-frying step, please don’t. Heating up the tortillas and coating them with a little oil makes them not only more pliable and easier to roll but also keeps them from falling apart once they’re covered in sauce. The oil is almost like a little raincoat that protects them. If you’re on a health kick, you can skip the tortillas and use blanched collard green or Swiss chard leaves as wrappers (I do that version for Grace and me sometimes). Lastly, if you are cooking these for children or anyone who can’t tolerate spice, feel free to swap in a poblano chile for the jalapeño (it’s much milder), or just omit the fresh chile all together.
Reprinted from Now & Again by Julia Turshen, with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018. —Julia Turshen
- Prep time 35 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour
- Serves 4, generously
garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 pounds
[680 g] boneless, skinless chicken breasts
28-oz [794-g] can whole peeled tomatoes
jalapeño chile, roughly chopped (discard the seeds if you like)
large handfuls of fresh cilantro leaves (a little bit of stem is fine!)
[120 g] sour cream
canola or other neutral oil, plus more as needed
6-in [15-cm] corn tortillas
[85 g] coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese
small red onion, thinly sliced
- Preheat your oven to 425°F [220°C]. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together the garlic, cumin, olive oil, and 1 tsp salt. Add the chicken breasts and coat them with the garlic mixture. Place them in an even layer on one side of the prepared sheet pan.
- Pour the can of tomatoes into a sieve placed over a bowl to catch the juice. Reserve the juice. Place the drained tomatoes and the jalapeño on the other side of the sheet pan.
- Roast the chicken and tomatoes until the chicken is firm to the touch and golden brown and the tomatoes are a bit concentrated, about 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and leave the oven on.
- Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and let it cool down a bit. Transfer the tomatoes and jalapeño to a blender or food processor and add any cooking juices from the sheet pan, the reserved tomato juice, a handful of the cilantro, the sour cream, and 1 tsp kosher salt. Process until smooth. You should have about 3 cups [720 ml] sauce.
- Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite-size pieces directly into the bowl in which it is already sitting. If any liquid remains in the bowl from the chicken, leave it there, as it will become part of its own sauce! Add one-third (about 1 cup/240 ml) of the reserved tomato sauce and stir well to combine.
- Pour another third (about 1 cup/240 ml) of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-in [23-by-33-cm] baking dish. Spread the sauce to cover the bottom.
- In a large nonstick skillet over high heat, warm the canola oil. Place a tortilla in the pan and fry until coated with oil on both sides and just barely softened and pliable, about 10 seconds per side. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, transferring them to a work surface as you go. As long as your skillet is nonstick and nice and hot, you shouldn’t need more oil, but if the skillet goes dry before you are done with the tortillas, add a splash more.
- Divide the sauced chicken evenly among the tortillas. Roll up the tortillas tightly around the chicken and line them up, seam-side down, in the baking dish. Pour the remaining tomato sauce (about 1 cup/240 ml) evenly over the stuffed tortillas and sprinkle with the cheese.
- Bake the enchiladas until the cheese is melted and golden brown and the sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining handful of cilantro and the red onion and serve immediately.
- IT'S ME AGAIN: CREAMY ROASTED TOMATO SOUP // Purposely make a double batch of the sauce for the enchiladas. Use half for the enchiladas and add 3 cups [720 ml] vegetable or chicken stock to the rest, and that’s that. So delicious, and two meals for the price of one. Serve with quesadillas instead of grilled cheese sandwiches.