My cousin Rose has strong feelings about tradition and thought that since her mother had passed on, then the tamale making tradition had to be passed –down to the next generation; so, we had an all day cooking lesson in Rose’s kitchen. She typed up the recipe and provided all the Spanish vocabulary and the translations to English. Her enthusiasm for tamales and family tradition took hold of my brother Frank and his wife Mary, and they have been making Christmas tamales since then, but with a variation. The use turkey meat instead of pork or beef, and instead of using lard in the masa (corn meal filling), they use turkey stock and olive oil. Delicious!
Now, back to the chicken enchiladas with homemade sauce. Last week I had some leftover chicken meat from a roast chicken. I thought that was a good excuse to make enchiladas. But, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like to use canned foods or sauces. I thought Rose’s tamale sauce would work pretty good. I looked at that, and I looked at another recipe from Mexican Foodie, and came up with a variation something in the middle of both of them. The result was as I expected it would be, perfectly scrumptious! The sauce is spicy, slightly sweet, and surprisingly easy to make.
Chilies are great for fighting inflammation as they are loaded with anti-oxidants; however, cheese is not an optimal choice for an anti-inflammation diet. Part of following an anti-inflammation diet is learning to make adjustments. In this case, simply take the cheese off of your portion.
*Note – Double the sauce recipe if you would like to freeze half of it for another occasion.
Preparation time start to finish: 1 hour Serves 4-6
1-3 ounce package New Mexico Chilies
(Use 1/2 the bag)
1-2 ounce package pasilla chilies
(Use 1/2 the bag)
1 1/2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 of a large tomato, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano, or Mexican oregano
12 to 16 ounces of cooked chicken, shredded
12 corn tortillas
*Optional – 1/3 cup low-fat cheese, Mozzarella or Cheddar. Or you may use 1/3 cup chopped black olives.
1.) Use half of each bag of chilies. Pull off, or cut off the tops of the chilies. Tear or slice them open and remove the seeds, and then discard the seeds.
2.) Heat a large skillet and toast the chilies in the skillet just until they start to release their fragrance. Be careful not to overheat them or the smell of chilies will be overpowering.
3.) Throw the chilies, the garlic, the onion, the tomato, the salt and spices, and the olive oil into a 4-quart pot. Cover the mixture with water, approximately 3 1/2 cups, and simmer for 25 minutes. Cool for 5-10 minutes.
4.) Place the cooked chilies in a blender and process until the liquid is very smooth, about 1-½ minutes.
5.) Strain the sauce through a colander to remove any bits of the peel. You should have somewhere about 3 cups of sauce. Add water if necessary.
To Assemble the enchiladas: Pre-heat the oven to 350°
1.) Spoon 1-1/4 cups sauce evenly in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan.
2.) Place 3 corn tortillas in a tortilla warmer and place in the microwave for 30 seconds. If you don’t have a warmer, wrap the tortillas in a cotton towel to warm.
3.) The tortillas should now be soft and pliable. Place about 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons of chicken in a tortilla and roll it up and then lay it in the prepared pan. Repeat this procedure until all of the tortillas are rolled and placed in the pan.
4.) Cover the tortillas with the remaining sauce. Top with the optional cheese or olives.
5.) Place the pan in the middle of the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes.
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