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Jun 16, 2007 10:21 AM

I make lame enchiladas. Help?

So I've been futzing around with enchiladas, and they're coming out really boring. What I'm looking for ideally is something chicken-based where the filling can be started in the crockpot (like chicken thighs cooked in some kind of delish sauce, which then becomes the filling for the enchiladas.) It seems in theory like an ideal recipe for long hands-off cooking and then short assembly time/baking after we get off work, but in practice...nope! Every time I've actually followed a recipe and taken all day, they've been great - but every time I try to shorten the hands-on process at all, they're bland, to say the least.

Any ideas? Or do I just have to do the Mexican grandma bit and cook all day to get good enchiladas?

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  1. Enchiladas, in my opinion, are a way to dispatch leftover chicken. Cook a nice, well-seasoned roast chicken for dinner one night, and whatever meat you have left, shred. Mix it with a spoonful of pureed chipotle in adobo, some cheese, onions and peppers. Make sauce of your choice (green, red, whatever). Heat corn tortillas one at a time in hot skillet (they're brittle when cold and will disintegrate when you try to roll them up), add a spoonful of the filling, and roll up. Put in a greased 9x13 pan, top with the sauce and a little cheese, and put them in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or so to get everything heated through.

    1. I make killer enchi's and what works for me is garlic...lots of raw garlic added to your chicken or ground beef/beef when cooking the meat..
      Becomes this flavorful blend that will never be bland and isn't garlicky at all..
      From start to finish takes about an hour+ to prepare and bake.
      Sometimes I use the Dona Maria for Mole Enchiladas.

      1. Keep it simple. I poach and shred the chicken and spend the next 15-20 minutes making up the sauce according to what we feel like having. Usually keep shredded poached chicken in the ref, so it takes just a bit more sauce prep time to get the enchiladas in the oven,

        1. I recently posted a recipe for zucchini, corn and black bean enchiladas and the sauce for it is easy and excellent. You could go ahead and cook your chicken in the crock pot and then assemble and bake with the sauce in 1/2 hour. I also make spinach, mushroom and chicken enchiladas but I plan to make this sauce for them to in the future. If you want the recipe I can find the post!

          1 Reply
          1. re: 4chowpups

            I actually already copied that recipe - that sauce does sound good. I should probably spend a day making lots of sauce and freeze it, and then use these ideas for the filling. Sounds like there are few shortcuts for good enchilada sauce!

          2. Most enchiladas in Mexico aren't baked, they're simply prepped and served. In fact, you don't even have to roll them, folded or stacked are pretty common too. The flavor comes from not only the sauce and filling but the garnishes used as well.

            Rick Bayless in his cookbook Everyday Mexican has a pretty decent crockpot recipe for chicken with tomatillo sauce. The recipe is easy, washed and quartered tomatillos go into the crockpot along with a little garlic, some sliced white onion, a jalapeno or serrano chile (more if you want spicy), sprigs of cilantro and some salt. Put the chicken on top and cook for 5 or 6 hours. I think there may have been a little added broth or water, but crockpots seem to wring every last drop of fluid out of anything put in them. Towards the end of cooking you add some potatoes and more cilantro.

            You could make the recipe, take the chicken out, let it cool and then shred it. Then take the cooking liquid and puree it adding some water or chicken stock if needed. Check for seasoning and add more salt if needed and pour into a pie plate of cake pan without a removable bottom. To assemble all you'd need to do would be to heat some oil in a small skillet with sides, dip a corn tortilla in for about 10 seconds per side, or enough to soften. Then dip in the sauce, put it on a work surface and fill with the shredded chicken. Roll, or just fold it in half like a taco. If you want to bake them put them in a baking dish and pour any left over sauce over them and bake. If you don't want to bake them, once you've finished folding, put them on a serving plate (lined with shredded cabbage would be nice), reheat the remaining sauce and pour over the enchiladas.

            Top with grated cotija cheese, white onion rings, chopped cilantro, sliced radishes and perhaps some pickled jalapenos, drizzle with crema, creme fraiche, or sour cream that has been thinned with some milk.

            8 Replies
            1. re: DiningDiva

              I think that Rick Bayless method would work (I also have that cookbook). To cut back on the fat a little, I think you could just dip the tortillas into hot sauce until they are soft. That way works for me. For red sauce, you're going to want to use a lot of reconstituted and pureed ancho chiles.

              1. re: diva360

                The Rick Bayless method sounds PERFECT. I'll try it and report back! Thanks!

                1. re: marigolds

                  Actually, the crockpot chicken recipes is Rick's, the suggestion to puree and use the cooking liquid as the enchilada sauce is mine. The oil dip, sauce dip and fill method with no baking is classically Mexican ;-)

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  The recipe says to use skinless thighs, so they shouldn't dry out (I wouldn't use breasts or skin-on chicken in a slow cooker). You could do the same braise in the oven for a shorter time.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    The recipe really says to cook the thighs for 7-8 hours in a crockpot, which is way, way, way too long.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Different crockpots go at different speeds. I do a poached/steamed whole chicken and it takes only 2-1/2 hours on high.

                      1. re: Sharuf

                        Sharuf is right. You should occas. check the temp accuracy of a crockpot just as you do an oven, so you can know how to adjust a recipe's stated cooking time.
                        Some of the early ones cooked at so low a temp that there was danger of food poisoning, and probably in overreaction to that many new ones cook too fast. If yours tends to the latter and you're afraid to go to work and leave something to cook all day even on LO, you might try this same test with a toothpick under the edge of the lid to keep the top barely tilted.