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Catastrophe Kitchen | The Best Chicken Enchiladas on Earth

By Salongo Wendland

These chicken enchiladas are almost not enchiladas. I mean, they technically consist of meat and chilis in tortillas, so they can be called enchiladas. You just won’t see these on a menu, unless you’ve stumbled into the most iconoclastic Mexican restaurant ever. But they are so, so delicious. They’re homey and satisfying and warm and creamy, with hints of sour cream enchiladas and chicken enchiladas but somehow better?? You have to try them, believe me. You will be sold, forever.

AND! They are BORDERLINE HEALTHY. I mean I am no fitness coach, but there are lots of good things in here (beans, chicken, spinach, Greek yogurt) and very few bad things (if you cut them like I do, a serving has about 1/3 of a tortilla). ALSO, this recipe can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen before cooking (YESSS) and it makes enough for one large rectangle pan PLUS a smaller square pan (or three square pans), so as the recipe stands it’s about 18 servings. (I know. SLAM DUNK.)

So we’ve got: delicious and satisfying, healthy(ish), make-ahead and freezer-friendly, two meals in one… just go ahead and add these ingredients to your shopping list right now.

You will need:

  • ½ yellow onion
  • 4 oz. mushrooms
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 jar green salsa
  • 1 can mild green chilis, diced
  • 3 cups cooked chicken breast, diced
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 3 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used Monterey Jack and Colby Jack)
  • 8-10 flour tortillas
  • 1 large rectangle and 1 8×8 square foil pan OR 3 square foil pans

If you’re making the enchiladas now, turn the oven on to 350F.

Dice the onion and mushrooms. You don’t have to be precise. You want the onions about the size of an M&M; the mushrooms can be relatively haphazard. Chop the scallion, adding the white parts to your onion pile and reserving the green parts for later. Put your biggest pan on medium-high heat and add a glug of olive oil. Add your veggies (and a touch of salt) and sauté them on medium-high heat until the mushrooms release their juice and the onions get translucent (about 4 minutes?).

I generally add a bunch of spinach at this point, but as you can see from the photo, I forgot the spinach. So my enchiladas did not get spinach in them. Sad day. But if you would like the spinach, just add it now. I usually cut a good part of the stem off, then toss the leaves on top, kind of mix them in a bit (spinach is hard to handle while it’s all uncooked) and put the lid on. Turn the heat to medium and leave it for a minute. It will wilt down, then you can mix it up more and let it cook until it’s all wilted. Then proceed with the recipe as I did, with my significantly less healthy (and less delicious) enchiladas.

Chop the garlic up as tiny as you can or push it through a garlic press, the greatest invention on earth.  Clear a spot in the middle of the veggies and pop the garlic in the pan. Scrape it around for about 30 seconds, until you can smell it, then mix it in with the veggies and let it cook another 30 seconds or so. Turn off the heat and scrape the veggies into a bowl, leaving any liquid in the pan.

Add the yogurt, ½ of the salsa, chilis, chicken, soup, and beans to the bowl with the veggies and mix it up. Add the paprika, all but a scant handful of the scallion greens, the salt, and all but 1 cup of the cheese and mix it again.

Now you’re ready to fill up your tortillas!

I like to use foil pans, the kind you can throw away, for these. That way I can have them in the freezer or give them away and not worry about tying up one of my good pans or losing one forever to a well-meaning (but forgetful) neighbor.

Spray the bottoms and sides of the pans with cooking spray.

I like to go heavy on the filling and light on the tortillas (because carbs), but if you’d prefer to make yours smaller, go ahead, I am not your boss. If you want them like mine, take a large amount of filling and put it in the middle of a tortilla. Fold the sides in, then set the tortilla, seam side down, into the pan. You’ll fit about 4-5 per rectangle pan (or 2 per square pan) this way.

When the filling is gone, spread the remaining green salsa over the tops of the enchiladas. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, then the remaining green scallions. Cover your pans with foil.

If you’re making them now (or from the fridge), put them in the oven and set a timer for 30 minutes. At 30 minutes, remove the foil. If the cheese is all melted, you should be ready to eat. If not, let them cook another 5 minutes or so without the foil.

If you’re freezing them, add a layer of plastic wrap between the enchiladas and the foil, then write these cooking instructions on top of the foil with a sharpie: “Remove plastic.  Bake at 350F with foil for 30 min; remove foil and bake 15 min more.”

I don’t serve these as whole enchiladas. That would be insane, unless you’ve made yours significantly smaller than mine. I cut them into thirds and serve them more casserole-style. You can serve them with all the trimmings or just with taco sauce or green salsa. They’re great re-heated, as well—I generally make a pan then have them for lunch all week.

Dig in! Share that second pan with a friend! Spread love and enchiladas and iconoclasm to all!

 

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