We Like Easy

Make no mistake. I’m down with my reputation as a good cook. But at risk of blowing it all to hell, I must confess: It’s kind of a lie.

What I mean to say is, the most delicious things that kick out of my kitchen are dead, stupid, easy. For example, do y’all even know what a breeze enchiladas are?

Hint: It's all in the sauce.
Hint: It’s all in the sauce.

Today I’m using Frontera brand Classic Red Chile sauce. Why it’s spelled like the country and not the delicious plant is… not for me to answer. I’m pretty sure we bought this from Whole Foods, known hereabouts as Harry’s Farmers Market.

(I tried, BTW, oh I tried, to get a picture of the jar. But they all came out blurry and ridiculous.)

It took us a while to settle on an enchilada sauce that we like straight out of the jar. It’s worth it to shop around and keep exploring. We like this one and will probably stick with it. For a while, anyway.

What You Need
For 4-6 enchiladas
Note, since this is almost always a throw-together dish for me, I’m supplying a few variations.

  • 4-6 Corn tortillas
  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Olive oil (or whatever cooking oil you have around)
  • Filling
    • About 4 oz boneless chicken (that will be about a half a boneless breast or 1-2 thighs), or…
    • About 4 oz ground beef, or…
    • 4-6 slices of your favorite cheese (I like pepper jack. Also, you can use shredded, but it’s messier.)
    • I suppose you could also use about 4 oz of pork, probably tenderloin, or crab meat or those tiny shrimp, but I’ve never tried that.
  • Seasonings
    • Salt and pepper
    • Oregano
    • Cilantro (optional)
    • Cayenne pepper (if you like it hot)

I generally serve these with a kind of Spanish-style rice. But this post was getting long so I’m going to write about that separately. If you’re doing the rice, put that water on to boil first thing.

We’re doing chicken today, so first preheat a heavy skillet on Medium. Lay your chicken out on a cutting board and pound it down to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Sprinkle both sides with maybe a teaspoon each of sea salt, black pepper, oregano, cilantro, and cayenne pepper. Or use whatever seasonings you like.

1/2 chicken breast, seasoned and pounded.
Did I mention this dish was easy? And very forgiving.

Add oil to the skillet and bring it up to temperature. This will keep your chicken from getting greasy, I’m told. Once the oil is hot enough to make a shake of black pepper sizzle, add your chicken. Cook on one side until the white is creeping up around the edges, then flip.

Half a chicken breast, seasoned and browned on one side.
Here’s where the kitchen starts to fill with mouthwatering smells.

I like to let my chicken pick up a little brown (read, yumminess). If that’s not your thing, reduce the heat to medium-low. It’ll take a bit longer but you’ll end up with pristine white meat.

Once you’re not seeing pink anymore, transfer the chicken to a mixing bowl. Use a couple of forks to shred it.

Partially shredded chicken.
Yes those are salad forks. Probably not my worst breach of etiquette today.

While my chicken was cooking, I got out a square baking dish and dumped in maybe a quarter cup of sauce. Then I tilted the dish around to coat the bottom. Would an enchilada pan be better? Yes. So if Santa Claus is reading this…

I also got out the rest of my ingredients, staging the assembly line. This is probably the best time to start preheating the oven. But seeing as I live in Georgia, I usually just fix these in the toaster oven.

Corn toritllas, pepper jack slices, shredded chicken, and prepared enchilada pan.
There’s the jar!

Grab tortilla, add a generous pinch of chicken and 1/4 slice of cheese —

Filled corn torilla.
That is action photography right there!

Fold gently and place seam-side down in the pan.

Baking dish containing one rolled enchilada.
You do want to be kind of careful with the folding. Corn tortillas can be a little fussy.

Repeat until you’re out of filling. I was going for four this time, but ended up with five. Took a little careful scootching to get that last enchilada in there.

Five rolled enchiladas in the baking dish.
It’s coming along…

Next you want to add a bit of sauce over the top of the tortillas. Dirty up a spoon if you must, or gently pour it right out of the jar.

Enchiladas coated in sauce.
I barely spilled any on the counter at all!

Finally, cover the top with cheese.

Enchiladas topped with cheese slices.
Yes, friends, I made a fancy half-diamond pattern. Because I love you.

At this point I set the toaster oven for Bake and 350°. Stuck the tray in there and got busy finishing up my rice. I’d say they stayed in 10, maybe 12 minutes. Partway through I started hearing sizzling, at which point I kicked the toaster oven over to Broil. A minute or two later I could smell browning cheese, and that means done!

Pan of chicken and cheese enchiladas
An enchilada pan would be better, because then I’d have yummy browned cheese all the way around.

I let these cool for about five minutes, then served over seasoned rice. The whole process took, maybe 25 minutes? And. So. Good.

Stay tuned for a quick post breaking down my seasoned rice secrets.

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