Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

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I make lots of different kinds of enchiladas, but this one seems to be my husband’s favorite.  Tender, flavorful, spicy chicken is wrapped up in flour tortillas, smothered in sauce and cheese, and baked until bubbly.  I find that something interesting happens to the tortillas when used in this preparation.  They plump up and absorb the sauce, similar to a pasta yet keep their form and help to temper the heat of the chipotles.  I actually cook, almost poach, my chicken in the homemade enchilada sauce, which not only gives the chicken incredible flavor, but also adds yumminess to the sauce.

Side story: did you know that chipotles are really just jalapeños that have been dried and smoked?  They sit in adobo sauce to reconstitute and give it nice flavor.

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. hungarian smoked paprika (sweet or hot depending on your tastes)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1, 16 oz. can of tomato puree
  • 1, 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 8 oz. shredded cheese (use what you want – cheddar, monterey jack, etc.)
  • 10 flour tortillas, soft taco size

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9×12 baking pan.

Heat 1 T. vegetable oil in a large pot.  Add onions and garlic, and half the salt and pepper.  Cook until translucent.  Add tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes just to cook out some on the staleness of being in a can (tip: open both ends of the can, remove one end, and then push through, remove the other lid to get all the tomato paste out without having to dig).  Add tomato puree, chipotles and all the adobo sauce, red pepper, cayenne, thyme and cumin.

Cut chicken into large 2 inch chunks.  Season with remaining salt and pepper.  Add to the enchilada sauce.  Cook for 30-60 minutes, covered (depending on how much time you have) so the chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken chunks from sauce and shred or chop into smaller pieces.  Add 1 C. of the sauce along with the sour cream, and 1/2 the cheese.

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Cover the bottom of pan with enchilada sauce to give the enchiladas a place to sit.  Place 2 heaping soup spoons into the center, lengthwise in a flour tortilla.  Roll up and place in the pan.  Repeat with remaining filling and tortillas.

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Cover with remaining sauce and cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes until bubbly and golden.

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Serve with freshly chopped tomatoes and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

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Notes:

  • To make it gluten free, substitute corn tortillas.  Dip the tortilla in the enchilada sauce before rolling it up with the chicken mixture.
  • These are spicy!  If you’re not too into heat, omit the crushed red pepper and cayenne.  Use the sweet paprika or omit. The chipotles will give heat, but it won’t be overpowering.
  • Plan on 45-50 minutes from start to serving.
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