Chicken Flautas and Enchiladas

Over the weekend I discovered in the freezer a container labeled “Red Enchilada Sauce, March 2010” and realized that I had neglected to post some of the recipes I made during Lent.  Part of my cutting back on food expenses during Lent involved using what I already had in the freezer and pantry.  One thing I had was cooked diced turkey from a winter turkey roast.  This recipe is a great way to use leftover turkey or chicken.  It works with either light or dark meat.

I’m also trying a new format for posting the recipes.  I’ll be including them within the post (which makes them easier to find via search), but will still include them on separate permanent pages as well (which makes them easier to print without all of my commentary).  The links to the separate printable recipe pages appear in the column on the right and on the Recipe Index page.

Chicken Filling for Flautas or Enchiladas

(could probably use in burritos too!)

Ingredients

2-3 cups cooked, diced chicken (see note below)
3 Tbls oil, plus more for frying (if making flautas)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
1-2 jalapeños, minced (or 1 large spoonful of canned diced jalapeños, NOT the pickled kind)
1/2 to 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
black pepper, to taste
tortillas (see note below)

If making enchiladas you will also need Red Enchilada Sauce (recipe below), shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack or colbyjack), and anything else you like to put in or on enchiladas (lettuce, avocado, black olives).

Directions

Saute onion in 3 Tbls oil in large pan.  Add chicken and saute.  Add remaining ingredients except tortillas.  Cook over low-medium heat until everything is combined nicely and most of the liquid has evaporated.  (If you are going to be frying flautas you will want the filling nearly dry.  For enchiladas or burritos you can leave it more moist.) Remove from heat.

Soften tortillas by (1) warming briefly, 30 seconds a side, in a dry, hot frying pan or (2) dipping briefly, 5-10 seconds, in hot frying oil or (3) wrapping in foil and placing in a warm oven for 10-15 minutes or (4) wrapping in damp paper towels and heating in the microwave on high for 60 seconds.  Everyone has their thoughts/preferences on the best way to soften tortillas. The purpose is to make them easier to roll without breaking or tearing. If they are REALLY fresh, you may be able to skip this step altogether.

For flautas: Roll heaping Tbls. of chicken into each softened tortilla.  Close with toothpick. Fry 2 at a time in hot oil for approximately 90 seconds (or until lightly golden brown).  Drain on paper towels.  Enjoy!  I love these dipped in Chile con Queso (gringo/cheaters recipe below), but salsa and sour cream would work as well.

For enchiladas: Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place a thin layer of red enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish.  Spoon 1-2 heaping Tbls. of filling onto a tortilla.  Add cheese (if desired).  Roll and place seam side down in baking dish.  Continue with remaining filling and tortillas.  Once they are all in the baking dish, pour some red enchilada sauce over them (how much depends on how dry/wet you like them).  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Cover the dish with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake a few minutes more until cheese is nicely melted.  Serve with rice and beans if desired.

Easy Red Enchilada Sauce

Over medium heat in a medium saucepan, blend 2 Tbls shortening with 2 Tbls flour. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup chili powder until oil is absorbed.  Slowly add 2 cups liquid (water or broth or tomato juice or tomato sauce or a combination).  Salt to taste.  Simmer 20 minutes.  See note below about chili powder vs. ground chili peppers.

Easy Chile con Queso

Yes, the secret ingredient for an easy creamy chile con queso is Velveeta.  It really does make a wonderful cheese sauce . . . You can try this with “real” cheese, but you will need to be very careful about keeping it at just the right temperature so that the oil doesn’t separate out from the cheese curds . . .

1/2 cup butter
1 small/medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour (Wondra works well, but AP is fine)
2 to 2-1/2 cups milk
2-3 4oz. cans chopped green chiles
12-16 oz. Velveeta cheese, diced (look for it near, but not in, the dairy section 🙂
3-4 fresh Jalapeño peppers, chopped (or a big spoonful of canned diced Jalapeños, not pickled)

Saute onion in butter until tender.  Add flour, gradually, stirring constantly.  Cook for 2-3 minutes over med-low heat.  Gradually add 2 cups of the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, continue stirring.  You should end up with a thick, creamy white sauce (see note).  Add chiles and jalapeños and simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes.  Add cheese, stir until melted.  Add remaining milk if needed for thinning.  Note: the cheese will thin the sauce so be sure the white sauce is thicker than desired for dip and reserve some of the milk so you can adjust at the end.

Notes

  • Chicken: I usually make this filling with chicken or turkey left over from a roasted bird.  If you haven’t roasted a chicken lately, no worries.  You can use 4 small cans of chicken meat (sold near the cans of tuna) or  3-4 chicken breasts (or other pieces) salted and poached in water or broth.  I suppose you could also dice raw chicken and just increase the time on the saute in the recipe above.  Just make sure the chicken is cooked before adding the other ingredients.
  • Tortillas: I prefer flour tortillas, though I think corn are more traditional for flautas and enchiladas.  If you are making flautas you will need tortillas small enough to fit in your fryer (I have a small fry daddy, so I use the small. 6-8″ flour tortillas for flautas, but larger ones for enchiladas and burritos).
  • The chicken filling recipe is great and versatile as is (the way it was taught to me), but could probably use some additional spices: cumin, corriander, chili powder.  Start with 1/2 tsp. of each and see what you think.
  • Chili Powder is NOT the same as Ground Chili Peppers.  Chili powder contains ground chili peppers PLUS spices like cumin, garlic and Mexican oregano.  If you use plain ground chili peppers for the Red Enchilada Sauce, you will probably want to spice it up with some spices.  For a discussion of “chile” vs “chili” see http://itsfiveoclocksomewhere.blogspot.com/2007/08/chile-vs-chili.html; I’m not very good at using them consistently . . .

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Turkey Mushroom Rice Casserole Update

Happy New Year!  Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Apologies for long delay between posts. Ho Ho Ho drained all my energy.

Much of my attention right now is directed toward the earthquake in Haiti (7.0 on Tuesday January 13, 2010), but I will need some more time to process before I blog about that . . .

Not much news on the cooking front. Haven’t been exploring many new recipes and have already posted most of the old favorites. Speaking of . . . I made my favorite Turkey Mushroom Rice Casserole a few days ago and discovered that the recipe I had posted was missing a few steps. (I had listed herbs and S&P in the ingredients but never mentioned when to add them.) You can see the corrected version at: Turkey Mushroom Rice Casserole.

I also made another batch of my Black & White Burritos. This time I cooked dried beans instead of using canned. I used the oven method suggested by Marcella Hazan that I described with my Minestrone recipe. The surprise was that even though Black Beans typically take at least 90 minutes to cook on top of the stove, they were done in less than an hour using the oven method (I used 1-1/2 cups beans and the same 3-quart casserole mentioned in the instructions in the Minestrone post. I’m going to be eating lots of rice, beans, and pasta in the next few months (due to winter budgetary restrictions), so I’m thrilled that this method works with a variety of beans.