With the exception of Christmas crack, I’m not one of those people who can get her crap together before a holiday and make thematic treats. But I am basically always in the mood for crack, and I spend the entire year waiting for Christmas to roll around so I have an excuse to whip up crack and watch The Santa Clause. Also, the Christmas season starts immediately after Halloween in my house, so I have a long crack window.
Other holidays tend to come and go before I have a chance to make something special. Also, I make a lot of Mexican food. Valentine’s Day? Taco night. Easter? Something topped with tomatillo salsa. Earth day? We’re having chicken enchilada soup. When Cinco de Mayo finally rolls around, we celebrate with tex-mex chicken enchiladas! Do me a favor and focus on how organized that seems, and forget about the fact that we also celebrate cinco of every other month with enchiladas…
This recipe — like so many other of my tex-mex favorites — was inspired by Lisa Fain, the genius behind Homesick Texan. She moved from Dallas to NYC, and has been creating tex-mex favorites on her beautiful and well-curated blog for ages. (She apparently is also the “head flavor consultant” at El Original, a hot new tex-met joint in Hell’s Kitchen.) If you’re lookin’ to recreate a Texan favorite, whether you’re homesick or not, check out her blog.
Take, for example, these enchiladas. I love enchiladas. I like the schmancy Austin-style green enchiladas, with fresh, healthy tasting sauce (erhm, like these), and I love a rich sour cream enchilada, but sometimes I want them with good ol’ chili gravy. Before I moved to NYC, I had never made chili gravy. When I lived in Texas and I wanted an enchilada, I went to Taqueria Acapulco (the good one across from the Toys R Us NOT THE OTHER ONE EVER). Even when I lived in Austin, it was worth a 4-hour drive every now and then. But the good Acapulco is roughly 1,900 miles away from the Leighto-Greato kitchen and sometimes it feels a little silly to buy a $500 plane ticket just to get a $4 enchilada (yep, I said $4, it’s delicious and basically free).
So I consulted Homesick Texan, and here we are. Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner, and I have savory, spicy, delicious enchiladas that take me halfway across the country in a single bite. What’s not to celebrate?
Flashback! One year ago on Leighto-Greato: Scrambled Eggs and Arugula Salad and Goat Cheese and Honey Drop Biscuits
- 1.5-2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 pint orange juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 c. fake-fried beans, or 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 12 corn tortillas
- ¼ c. all-purpose flour
- ¼ c. vegetable oil, plus 1 T.
- 3 T. ground cumin
- ½ T. mexican oregano
- ½ T. cayenne pepper
- ½ T. ground coriander
- ½ T. Hungarian hot paprika
- 2 c. chicken stock
- 2 c. shredded cheese
- 2 avocados
- Juice from 1 lime
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a large glass bowl, mix up chicken marinade: orange juice, minced garlic, 1 T. cumin and a fat pinch of salt. Add chicken to marinade, stir to cover, and set aside.
- Now it's time to make the fake-fried beans. If you're using homemade beans, you can find full instructions here -- you're going to need about 1 cup of puréed beans. If you're using canned beans, rinse and drain the beans. If you're using an immersion blender, add the beans to a small bowl and cover with water until they are just submerged. If you're using a food processor, add the beans and cover with water (again, until they are just submerged). Then purée the beans and water until smooth and set aside.
- Then make your chicken: heat 1 T. vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is almost smoking, pull the chicken pieces out of the marinade using tongs, and brown it on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each. Make sure you shake the chicken off well, or pat it dry on paper towels: if a lot of marinade gets in the skillet, if will all have to cook off before the chicken browns. Which is fine, it just takes longer, and I respect your time. Once the chicken is browned, pour the marinade into the skillet over the chicken. Bring it up to a boil, then reduce down to a simmer and let it go until the marinade is a dark brown, thick pan sauce. Stir the puréed beans into the skillet with the chicken and the sauce, and stir until combined well. You should have about 3 cups of chicken-black bean mix. Cover and turn off the heat until it's time to assemble the enchiladas.
- While the chicken is cooking, make your enchilada sauce: heat ¼ c. vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in remaining cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, oregano, coriander, 1 t. salt, and flour. Bring up to bubble, whisking frequently. Let the roux simmer for 3-4 minutes. Whisking every minute or so to keep it from burning. Then whisk in the chicken stock, half a cup at a time. Don't worry if the sauce seizes, it will come back together. Once all the chicken stock is mixed in, bring the sauce up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes or so. You should end up with about two cups of sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- To assemble your enchiladas, start by spreading ¼ c. of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 20 seconds, until they are warm and pliable. Fill each tortilla with ¼ c. of the chicken and black bean mix, arranged in a line down the middle of the tortilla, with the two edges wrapped around the filling and overlapping. Place the filled tortillas seam-side down in the baking dish, and repeat until all the tortillas are filled and the baking dish is full. Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas, and top with shredded cheese.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the enchiladas are warm throughout and the cheese is melted.
- While the enchiladas are baking, make your chunky guacamole. Cut the avocados in half and discard the seed. While the avocado is still in the skin, make cross-hatching cuts about ½ an inch apart. Then scoop the avocado flesh out with a spoon and stir in the lime juice and a fat punch of salt until just combined.
- Serve enchiladas hot with a scoop of guac on top, and fake-fried beans on the side.