Traditionally, in my family, chicken enchiladas were prepared with corn tortillas that were filled and then rolled tight. They were be served to order, individually onto your plate, topped with enchilada sauce and a sprinkle of cheese. The fillings were simple, either a lightly seasoned poached chicken or a crumbled queso cotija or queso fresco with sliced onions. They were rarely ever baked in the oven. Although, I do enjoy that cheesy version too! To save time, you could use a store-bought rotisserie chicken for this recipe. Many times, my mom would take a little help from the market and purchase store bought enchilada sauce. It was not available to me, until recently, so I learned to prepare my own. And after trying the homemade version, I really enjoy it. Here is a basic sauce recipe that I use all of the time. It freezes well and can be used for various dishes that call for a chile sauce. Normally I would not have red tortillas unless I prepared them myself. I just received them in the mail so I just had to use them today. Tasty! #mexicanfood
Basic Chicken Enchiladas
Who doesn't love a big plate of chicken enchiladas? Basic, staple ingredients yield a delicious, made from scratch, enchilada sauce!
- 3 boneless chicken breasts or 5 boneless thighs 2 pounds
- 5 cups of water
For the Enchilada Sauce: (Ranchero Sauce)
- 2 ancho chile peppers stems and seeds removed
- 8 guajillo chiles stems and seeds removed
- 4 chile de arbol peppers optional
- 1 large Roma tomato sliced in half
- ½ white onion quartered
- 3 large cloves of garlic
- Grapeseed or olive oil
- 4 cups water
- 2-3 teaspoons Knorr chicken bouillon optional
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups chicken broth from poaching the chicken
You Will Also Need:
- 16 corn tortillas
- Grapeseed or canola oil
- 8 oz Monterey Jack or Chihuahua cheese shredded
- 4 oz queso cotija crumbled fine
- Shredded lettuce thinly sliced onion, sliced tomato and sliced jalapeño
- Mexican crema not pictured
- Avocado slices not pictured
- Add the chicken to a sauce pan and cover with 5 cups of water. Season with salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat and poach for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender and easy to pull apart with a fork. Remove chicken and shred while still warm, cover and set aside. Strain the broth and reserve for making enchilada sauce.
- Combine the dried chiles, tomato, onion and garlic in a medium sauce pan. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and heat to medium. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring often. Cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until tomatoes are tender and peppers are soft and start to turn red. Let sit for 10 minutes. Drain all of the cooking liquid and transfer to blender. Add oregano, Knorr bouillon, pepper and about 2 cups of reserved chicken broth. Blend on high until smooth, taste for salt.
- In the pan you cooked the peppers in, add 2 tablespoons of oil and preheat on medium for 2 minutes. Strain the sauce through a wire strain directly into the pot with hot oil. Pour one cup of broth into strainer and finish straining the sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes.
- For Family-Style: In a 13×9 pan, spread 1 cup of enchilada sauce evenly to cover the bottom of the pan, set aside. In a skillet, preheat 1/2 cup of oil to medium heat for 3-4 minutes. When oil is hot, fry the tortillas for 30 seconds per side, just to soften them. Stack on to a plate, cover with foil paper.
- In a bowl, combine the shredded chicken breast with ½ cup of enchilada sauce, stir well to combine. Now you are ready to start building your enchiladas. Take one tortilla and fill with about 2 tablespoons of chicken, roll shut to resemble a flute. Lay the enchiladas in the baking pan with the sauce already in it. Once you have filled and rolled them all, top with the remaining sauce and jack or chihuahua cheese. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Serve and garnish with queso cotija, onion, avocado, crema and fresh toppings!
- For Serving Individual plates. Make sure your sauce and chicken are warm if you are serving individually. Fry, fill and roll the enchiladas and place them onto individual plates. Ladle a generous amount of warm sauce on top, sprinkle on melting cheese and heat to melt in the microwave for less than a minute. Garnish with cotija cheese and with any of the fresh garnishes listed. This was how my Mom served them at home.
This is a basic chile sauce that can be used for many recipes. Recipes, such as flautas ahogadas, chiles rellenos and even huevos rancheros! If you like, you could bump up the heat with adding more chile de arbol, or not. Adding cumin is optional.
If you can't find ancho peppers, you can use all guajillo peppers. And vise versa. An all ancho pepper enchilada sauce is delicious! It may just be slightly darker in color.
I love cheese, but sometimes I really just want to enjoy the flavor of the sauce with the corn tortillas.
Before the cotija cheese…. If you are serving the enchiladas on individual plates, you probably will have leftover sauce. More Mexican food the next day!
The red corn tortillas remind me so much of the simple cheese enchiladas that they serve in Monterrey, Mexico. I have prepared my own, but they are never as thin as these store bought tortillas. I found these while I was visiting my family in Austin. My sister in law was nice enough to mail me a few packages.
I cook my chicken in the pressure cooker or slow cooker for the best shredded chicken. I enjoy breast meat, but the boneless thighs are so much more flavorful.
I took no pictures of the sauce on it’s own! So, for now, here it is on top of the enchiladas, ha, ha!
And not only for enchiladas, but the colored tortillas make the best chips!
Follow the link to see the full recipe on how to prepare homemade chips and salsa!