Monday, January 27, 2014

Chicken Enchiladas, Cheesy and Spicy FREEZABLE CASSEROLE - 52 Church PotLuck Main Course

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I love Enchiladas.  I have a scratch recipe for them that includes a fresh made cheese sauce, a really amazing Spanish Rice and even a Pico de gayo loaded with Pineapple... Those Chicken Enchiladas are REALLY GOOD... Also really really time consuming.  Really really time consuming.  I will of course make those again, they are good and some days I am in the mood for something time consuming (that is really good).  But this recipe has plenty of advantages those pineapple chicken 'chilladas does not have...

FAST.  The ingredient list uses plenty of real time saving pre-packaged ingredients.  I use a jar of spicy cheese sauce (dip) in place of the fresh made cheese sauce.  I also add a can of this, can of that and even the chicken meat from a store bought, pre-cooked, pre-seasoned Rotisserie Chicken.  Total hand on time, less than 30 minutes.

I do have a quick recipe for a brown spicy Enchilada Sauce, but that;s only 5 ingredients.  Only trick to that is to simmer long enough to reduce the sauce.  You make a roux (easy) of oil and spices mixed with a little flour that acts as a thickener as the sauce cooks.  Only takes about 20 minutes.  Time for you to assemble and prep the rest of the ingredients.

As to taste... WONDERFUL!  Spicy like Tex-Mex food should be.  Plenty of layers of flavors, cheesy, tomatoes, black beans, chicken and that fantastic sauce.

And if you want to double up and freeze a casserole for later (or divide in half for a smaller meal now and one for later), this freezes perfect.  Here's a few tips

First, be sure the actual baking dish is freezer to oven safe. Those ubiquitous Pyrex brand clear dishes work best. You can also use a Foil disposable pan to freeze and bake, then transfer into a presentation dish to serve.

Second, always best to thaw the casserole in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours before baking. You can bake a frozen casserole right from the freezer. But the edges will be baked more crispy than the center by the time it is finished. To go straight from freezer to oven to table, just increase the baking time by 30 minutes. But again, you will have better results if you plan ahead and thaw the meal as much as possible. Leaving the casserole out on the counter for 2 hours (covered with the foil) also helps. The casserole will not be thawed completely but will cook more evenly. If you do this, only cook for another 20 minutes. As usual, but even more so, keep an eye on the dish as it cooks. Once the liquid is bubbling and the top is crispy crunchy, the dish is done no matter how much time you cook.

Third, 60 days... Two Months. NO MORE... Prepare and freeze, but date the dish. Cook and serve within 60 days for best results. Any longer and you will have freezer burn and the dish will start to turn on you. Personally, I am a 30 day guy,but I have baked these right at 60 days and it was fine.

OK.. Read over the recipe. The freezing tips are in italics. Enjoy and let me know what you think of this rather unique but decadently GREAT Spicy Cheesy Enchiladas!

OK... Here's what I did...
Note: I made a single 9X13 Oven Safe Pan.  If you like, divide in two, 2 8X8 Freezer safe/Oven Safe (Pyrex works great) Pans, Enjoy one now, freeze one for later.

Chicken Enchiladas
(A FREEZABLE Casserole)

  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 4 TBS Chili Powder
    (for a less spicy Enchilada, cut this in half)
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 TBS Flour
  • 1 Cup Marinara Sauce
    (can use store bought Pasta/Spaghetti Sauce)
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Jar Salsa Con Queso Cheese Sauce (Queso Dip)
  • 1 Cup Grated Cheddar Cheese for Garnish
  • 1 Medium Rd Onion, Diced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • Meat removed from a Store Bought pre-cooked, pre-seasoned
    Rotisserie Chicken
  • 2 Can Black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 2 Can Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 8 Large Flour Tortillas
  • 1/4 Cup Pico De Gallo
    (Salsa) for Garnish
Cooking Directions
  1. FIrst, make the Spicy Brown Sauce... Over medium high heat, in a medium sauce pan, heat the oil, add the Chili Powder and the Cumin. Stirring constantly until the oil just starts to smoke, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the Flour and stir for an additional minute.
  3. Add the Pasta Sauce and Chicken Stock and stir to mix. Set heat to maintain a low boil, stir occasionally for about 20 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken.
  4. Add the Onions and Garlic and drop the heat to a low simmer.
  5. Meanwhile, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain and rinse the Black Beans, drain the Tomatoes and mix those two.
  6. Prepare a 9X13 Oven Safe Casserole Dish with nonstick spray.
  7. Set up a "loading your Enchiladas system, Bowl of Chicken, next to a bowl of Beans/Tomato mix, Next To Cheese Sauce, next to the Brown Cooked Enchilada Sauce with a board for a flat tortilla in the center.
  8. When the Sauce has thickened, Spoon half of the Black Bean/Tomato mix into the bottom of the Casserole pan. Also add 1 Cup of the Brown Enchilada Sauce to the mix. Stir to even out the mix.
  9. Now, make the Enchiladas... Lay out a tortilla. Add a quarter cup of the Chicken in a line down the center of the tortilla. Top this with a quarter cup of the beans/tomatoes... Then a couple TBS of the Cheese Sauce and finally with a TBS of the Enchilada Sauce.
  10. Roll each tortilla into an Enchilada shape. Place Seam Side down on top of the Sauced Tomato/Bean mix in the Casserole Pan... Repeat for all 8 Enchiladas.
  11. Top with remaining Cheese Sauce and remaining Brown Enchilada Sauce.
  12. At this stage, if you are making two casseroles, or plan to freeze the large one... cover the freezer casserole with Aluminum Foil, pushing the foil down so there is as little air between top of casserole and the foil as possible (prevents freezer burn). Allow this to cool on the countertop to room temperature and then pop in the freezer. When you want to cook this, just transfer to the refrigerator 24-48 hours before you plan to cook and cook as directed below. If you do not have the time to thaw in the refrigerator, cook as directed an additional 30 minutes.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes until the sauce begins to bubble at the edges.
  14. Garnish with additional Cheddar Cheese right from the oven, then add 1/4 Cup Salsa Best to use a spatula, cut the enchiladas in half and serve two 1/2 Enchiladas instead of a single long one. Serve HOT and ENJOY!


This recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Church PotLuck Dishes"!

A list of something NEW worthy of being shown off at a neighborhood BYODish (Bring Your Own Dish) Party, a Family special occasion dinner, Any Big Holiday Gathering or of course that glorious day when you bring a dish to share with your Church family...

Ages ago, literally almost a half century ago I was listening to our pastor talking about a PotLuck Dinner. It happened to be scheduled around a church work day when we were expected to weed, polish and do general cleaning and maintenance around the church (you know, back in the day when there were no no-wax floors and church pews smelled of Old English furniture polish). I am of course paraphrasing, but as I recall the pastor said,

"A potluck, like a church requires work. At a potluck everyone is expected to contribute.. At a church no one should come empty handed and no one should leave unfed".
I will confess that in my youth I brought more store bought plastic spoons and forks than I ever brought covered dishes and crock pots of fresh made love and caring delights. But now that I have become a hobbyist cook, I occasionally am reminded of those days and people from my youth. I reminded and I do wish that I could drop a dish of some new creation on those old tables at my fondly remembered Liberty Baptist Church.  Tables covered with newspapers and loaded with God's bounty prepared with love and caring... Enjoy


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