Manda Cooks: Enchilalalalaladas

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Enchiladas used to be one of those things that confused me a bit – in restaurants they’re usually a little soggy and taste only like the sauce swamp they’re sitting in. I didn’t quite understand the appeal…until I made them for myself. Now I’m a totally converted, #1 enchilada fan. I love fish tacos in the summer, and enchiladas are like a taco’s cuddlier, cozier, slightly less cool and not as pretty on the outside, but smarter and prettier on the inside (where some would argue it counts more) cousin.

The first time I tried them, I consulted a few recipes because I wanted to make sure I gave them a fair shot. Like most Mexican food, not only can you not really go wrong, but I actually think you go more right when you sort of just wing it. Providing my recipe below contradicts what I just said but deal with it.

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You might already know that I ventured back into the meat-eating world relatively recently. It started with a bite here and there, and then I went to Italy and all bets were off. I ate meat every day and…it was delicious. Since then, I’ve been enjoying my fair share of meat but I still get some stage fright when it comes time to prep and cook it. I usually let Brett take the wheel while I eagerly watch. I’m getting more comfortable cooking it (I tell myself it’s basically a vegetable that you just have to cook through or else you’ll die, but don’t cook it too much or else you’ll ruin the meal…no pressure), but I still let Brett handle the prep part…still a little icky to me.

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Anyway, recipe for my Winging-It Chicken Enchiladas are below (extra lalalala’s optional). Sub in/out fillers as you see fit, but don’t skimp on the cheese.

Here’s what you need:
1/2 pound chicken, cut into small pieces
1 pepper, or 1/2 each of two peppers (does that make sense?), chopped
1/2 can black beans
1/2 small red onion, diced
pickled jalapenos (recipe to come!)
small corn or flour tortillas
1/3 cup salsa verde
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
spices (we used this habanero salt mix we have, plus a chili lime rub, and jerk seasoning)

Here’s what you do:
Saute the peppers and onion with some of the spices for about 5 minutes. Place in a bowl and add black beans. In the same pan, saute and generously flavor the chicken. Cook it through! Add to the vegetable bowl. At this point, I use food scissors to cut things a bit smaller…makes it easier to assemble! You can throw some jalapenos into this mix if you like things extra spicy. Add the barbecue sauce to this mix and stir to combine. To assemble the baby enchiladas, sprinkle some cheese in the middle of a tortilla, then spoon in some filling. You don’t have to fold these up like a burrito, so don’t worry about them “closing”. Roll the tortilla up to the best of your abilities, and place open side down in a baking dish. (I happen to have the perfect baking dish from Crate & Barrel – best purchase ever.) Repeat this until your dish is full – mine holds five. Spread the salsa evenly over the top, then sprinkle with cheese like the world is ending tomorrow. Then place pickled jalapenos in a line across the top (mandatory). Bake in the oven at 375F for about 15 minutes – turn up the heat at the end if you want the cheese to brown a bit. Let sit for just two minutes to cool down, then feast. Top with diced tomatoes, avocado, sour cream, jalapenos, etc.

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