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2.3.15 Chicken Red Chile Enchiladas

2.3.15 Chicken Red Chile Enchiladas

Yesterday was one of those cold winter evenings where it seems like the only thing to do is to hunker down with a cold beer, a big plate of homemade enchiladas, and some trashy television. I’d been spending a fair amount of quality time with my snow shovel after Sunday’s snowfall, and after all that, this seemed like the only reasonable solution. I quickly got to work. Beer and trashy TV are easy, but those enchiladas weren’t going to make themselves. Luckily, having made enchiladas a few times before, I was off to a good start; cooking down chicken thighs, onions, and spices, simmering them in beer, then shredding them into delicious spicy goodness. My enchiladas were shaping up nicely when I hit a snag - the sauce.

In the past, I’ve found myself mostly making enchiladas verdes, whipping up a quick green sauce of roasted tomatillos, green chiles, and a little chicken stock. But this time around, I was looking to make some red chile sauce, and found myself slightly at a loss. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I was slightly discouraged, thinking my enchiladas were bound to be a bust. And then it hit me. The perfect base for my sauce had been there all along. That flavorful, spicy, liquid the chicken had been cooking in was just the thing. Needing a way to thicken it, I used the beurre manie technique, blending soft butter and flour and whisking it in. It's probably not the most authentic way to make enchilada sauce, but who cares. The result was a beautifully smooth, spicy, deep red sauce, full of flavor - what more could you want? All that was left was to pour it atop my enchiladas, cover them with a generous amount of melty cheese, and bake them. 


Chicken Red Chile Enchiladas

serves 4

I served these with a cold beer and a simple salad of chopped avocado, red onion, fresh cilantro, jalapeno, a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime. It was perfection.

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chile powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 12 oz can light beer (I used Grain Belt of course)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 8 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used monterey jack)
  • fresh cilantro for serving

1. Heat oil in a 2 quart pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the chicken thighs, onion, garlic, chile powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, salt and cayenne. Give everything a good stir to combine and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

2. Add the apple cider vinegar and the beer. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes.

3. Remove chicken thighs from the pot, and use two forks to shred the meat. Return shredded meat to the liquid in the pot and continue to simmer, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes.

4. Using a slotted spoon, remove shredded chicken and onions from the pot and transfer to a bowl. Keep the remaining liquid in the pot at low heat.

5. In a small bowl, combine the butter and flour, mixing with the back of a spoon until a paste is formed. Add the butter/flour mixture to the liquid in the pot, whisking to incorporate it. Continue to whisk until liquid has thickened into a sauce, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and set aside.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

7. Divide shredded chicken mixture evenly between 8 warm corn tortillas. Roll each tortilla around the filling, and place, seam side down, in an 11 x 7 baking dish. Place rolled tortillas close together so they fit snugly. You should be able to fit all 8 into the pan with little extra room to spare.

8. Pour reserved sauce evenly over the rolled tortillas. Top enchiladas evenly with shredded cheese. Bake enchiladas at 350 for 20 minutes. Top with chopped fresh cilantro and serve immediately.

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