Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An Awesome Mexican Adventure.

Recently I purchased two cookbooks from the Monticello Welcome Center; "Authentic Southwestern Cooking" by Lynn Nusom and "Southwest Slow Cooking" by Tammy Biber and Theresa Howell.  Going through both, I found several recipes I wanted to try out, and enjoyed reading some of the stories and informational tidbits in both books.  I was watching Travel Channel's "Mexican Food Paradise"; then Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" had an episode which featured New Mexico places; so you can see a pattern was starting to develop in what I was to cook next. 

Speaking with my hubby, he suggested I make a Mexican style casserole, but put rotini pasta in it.  I thought about it, but didn't like the pasta idea; pasta is Italian, I already made two Italian pasta dishes last week.  So, do I use one of the recipes out of the cookbooks, or look up recipes from the shows I had watched?  I did better than either choice, I combined both ideas plus my recipes for Chicken Enchiladas and Fiesta Salsa. To say that I came up with something absolutely amazing is to say too little. The taste and texture blew my mind; I wanted to just lay down on the floor and experience what I had just eaten with orgasmic pleasure. It is not often that I feel this way about a particular meal; but this was certainly a most excellent adventure!

Once again I'll be posting a load of photos, so I hope you'll enjoy the visual show as well as trying out this recipe.
Fiesta Chicken Enchiladas


8 chicken tenderloins
¼ cup lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp New Mexico chile powder (medium)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained (medium)
8 (10 inch) flour tortillas
2 cups green chile sauce (medium)
8 Tbsp salted butter
8 Tbsp flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 (8 oz) package shredded Mexican cheese mix


Trim the chicken tenderloins of any fat or excess ligament; place in a sealable plastic bag with the lime juice, cilantro, cumin and chile powder. Move chicken around in bag to make sure all is coated with the marinade; place in refrigerator for one hour. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat; sear chicken two minutes on each side and drain on paper towels. Chicken will still be raw inside, but will finish cooking during the baking process.

To Make the Enchiladas

In a large bowl, mix together the black beans, corn and tomatoes with green chiles.

 Place 4 tablespoons in the center of a tortilla; spread out far enough to be a half inch around the chicken.
Place a chicken tenderloin in the center of the “salsa”; fold the tortilla over both ends of the chicken, but leave 3 inches apart.

Take one side of the tortilla and fold over to make an “envelope”; slowly roll towards the open side, tucking in sides if necessary, to seal the “packet”.

Don't worry if each "packet" is not perfectly symmetrical or look exactly like each other.  Once the layers of sauce are on, no one will see the imperfections. If someone does, then feel proud that these are homemade; not bought at the supermarket's frozen food section and machine made.

Preheat oven to 350F; spray a 4 quart baking dish with nonstick spray. Place each packet, seam side down, inside the dish. Spread the green chile sauce over the packets and bake for 20 minutes.

To Make the Cheese Sauce

Melt the butter, medium-high heat, in a medium sauce pan; whisk in the flour as soon as tiny bubbles begin to form in the melted butter. Continue to whisk as the mixture begins to turn a pale brownish color; add the heavy cream, milk and black pepper and let mixture come to a low boil. Whisk in half the shredded cheese until melted; do same for second half of cheese and continue to whisk until smooth.

After 20 minutes, take enchiladas out of oven and spread cheese sauce completely over all. Return dish to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let it rest for 10 minutes to allow cheese sauce to firm up around the enchiladas.  Let me tell you that the cheese poofs up into this wonderful fluffy layer of cheesy cloud.  The texture is so soft and smooth, not the typical chewy layer when cheese is just dumped on an enchilada and allowed to melt.

Cutting open the enchilada, you see the vibrant colors of the beans, corn and tomatoes; the chicken is tender and juicy; the flavors of the lime and cilantro pop; and the cheese sauce layer...a celestial cloud.  Enjoy!

Makes 8 servings.

Mary Cokenour


The Chicken Chick