Thursday, February 11, 2021

Chicken Enchiladas


Mexican food is fresh, vibrant, delicious, and should be fun to cook and eat. It's an easy way to feed the family and they will love it. Many of the essential  ingredients are available everywhere now, including tomatoes, coriander, capsicum, red onion, avocado, corn, canned beans, and limes, depending on which dish is being cooked. In this Enchilada recipe, the same spicy culprits are used that you will find in a lot of Mexican cuisine i.e. cumin, paprika, oregano and a little cayenne pepper. However this dish is cooked completely from original ingredients, there is no Old El Pasa to be found in this list, I like to cook from scratch whenever I can. This is a cinch to make and I know you will love it.

The result is an earthy and slightly spicy dish with an underlay of sweetness, and without the taste of preservatives or extra sodium content to be found in packet mixes and sauces. Cooking from scratch means that a little bit of extra effort is required, but it is well worth it, and the spices, the enchilada sauce, and the chicken filling can all be made in advance and refrigerated, ready for assembly the following day. For this dish, we want nice plump tortillas full of chicken filling, and plenty of rich enchilada sauce to serve with the tortillas, and of course it has to be very cheesy.  My recipe is based on one I found in the amazing Nagi Tin Eats blog, I doubled the ingredients, and now I have some in my freezer for those no cooking nights we all love.

 Beans and corn are staples of Mexican food, and the refried beans in this dish are essential in the chicken filling to provide earthiness of flavour and to bind the chicken filling together beautifully in the tortilla. Don't be tempted to leave out the tin of refried beans, trust me this ingredient is essential. We don't want a runny watery filling. Let's not forget the slight Spanish influence of spices and fresh ingredients either when it comes to Mexican food, however Mexican food uses more chilli and coriander than the Spanish and a lot more spice. 


8 flour or corn tortillas

Let's just forget that I didn't add the flour tortillas to the ingredients photo.

Chicken Filling:

600 g chicken boneless thigh meat or chicken breast ( sliced in half horizontally)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced finely

1 red capsicum, diced

400 g/14 oz refried beans 

400 g/14 oz canned corn

400g/14 oz can of black beans 

1/4 cup (65 ml) water

1 cup (100 g) shredded cheese (Mexican cheese blend preferably)

Enchilada Seasoning

1 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of dried cumin powder

1 tablespoon of paprika

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 teaspoon to 3/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper ( adjust to taste for heat)

TIP: Add 1 teaspoon of dried onion powder and 1 teaspoon garlic powder for extra oomph if you wish. People with a sensitive gut shouldn't use dried onion and garlic powder.

Enchilada Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons plain flour 

2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock or broth, low salt

375 ml or 1 1/2 cups tomato passata or puree (in the US)


1 1/2 cups (150g) cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons coriander, roughly chopped


Enchilada Seasoning:

Mix all of the Enchilada herbs and spice ingredients together in a small bowl, ready to be used.

Enchilada Sauce and topping:

1. Firstly make a roux by heating the oil in a saucepan, then add the flour, and stir for 20 seconds until it comes together

2. Add 2 tablespoons of the Enchilada Seasoning, the chicken stock and the tomato passata to the roux. Stir it all to combine.

3. Simmer - Increase the heat on your stove to a simmering heat.Whisking the mixture regularly, cook for 4 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Remove the saucepan from the stove to cool.  

Chicken Filling:

Leave the chicken in large thin pieces to cook so that more of the surface area of the chicken is coated with the spices. Mix 1 tablespoon of oil through the chicken with your clean hands. Sprinkle with the remaining seasoning, and toss the chicken so that it is well coated.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large pan, I used my Scanpan. Add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes on a high heat. Turn the pieces over and cook for another 1 1/2 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan, rest it for a couple of minutes, and then chop it into bite size pieces.

In the same pan on a lower heat, add the onion and the garlic, and cook for 1 minute, then add the capsicum and cook until the onion is fragrant and soft. At the same time, the brownings from the chicken can be scraped from the bottom of the pan.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan:

Add the refried beans, the cooked chicken, the corn, black beans and water. Stir this mixture until it reduces slightly, about 3 minutes. The chicken filling should be nice and thick  but still a bit moist.

Now for the exciting part, it's time to assemble your enchiladas and start baking them

1. Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C/350 deg. F.

2. With a spoon, smear a light layer of the enchilada sauce across the base of the baking dish, 22 x 33cm, 9 x 13 ",  to prevent them sticking.

3. Separate the tortillas and lay them on the bench. If they are a little stuck together like mine were, warm them up in the microwave for 50 seconds and they will ease apart without tearing. I bought a large family pack of 16 and a few had to be eased apart. 

4. Spread 2/3 cup of filling on the lower third of the tortilla, sprinkle with cheese or not if you prefer, then roll up. Place in the baking dish, seam side down and ends tucked in to hold them closed. Repeat this process to make 8, unless you doubled the recipe like I did.

5. Pour remaining sauce over the tortillas, and sprinkle well with cheese.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until cheese is melted and golden. I baked mine at 180 deg. C for 20 minutes, and then raised the temperature to 200 deg. C to beautifully brown the cheese. 

Hot and sizzling straight out of the oven

Sprinkle with lots of chopped coriander and serve straight away.  

Add some chopped capsicum for colour and vibrancy as well if you wish.

Serve with guacamole, sour cream, a green and red cabbage salad or any fresh salad,  fresh tomatoes, and whatever else you would like with it. This is the Guacamole recipe from I used and it was delicious. The  Shepherd avocados are amazing here at the moment. We eat some everyday. Avocado is a must to be served with Mexican food.

Cooked leftovers will store for 4 days in the frig, but I assure you they won't last that long.

TIP: All of the stages before assembly can be done the day before the dish is to be eaten. That way, it is easier to assemble the tortillas with cold ingredients on the next day. Tortillas will absorb less sauce during cooking, if they are assembled cold and it is easier too.

Freeze your leftovers, and bake them from frozen, for those nights you don't feel like cooking. I love those nights don't you?. Cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes in a moderate oven, and then remove foil,  and bake them for 20 minutes at 180 deg. C/350 deg. F.

When I had the urge to cook some Mexican food, I might have been inspired by a book I had just read, titled American Dirt, written by Jeanine Cummins. It was on my Book Club's list, and when I finished it and read some book reviews I realised how controversial it has been in the United States, along with a lot of other upheaval. This was possibly because it was also on Oprah Winfrey's Bookclub list, a fact I'm pleased I was unaware of when I was reading it. It was basically about a middle class Mexican Mother and her son who were fleeing Mexico to escape the atrocities of a Mexican drug cartel, which had murdered her family, and now she feared for the life of her son and herself. It was quite a page turner, and fairly well researched. There wasn't much mention of cooking or food in the book that I can recall, but I was obviously very engrossed in it's Mexican flavour. 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope I have inspired you to spice things up a bit and cook some authentic Mexican food in your own home for a delicious change.

Adios, stay safe  and keep well,



  1. Sizzling hot right out of the oven....amazing flavour and colour.

  2. i love Mexican food! this looks fabulous, and full of delightful flavours. and of course you can't go wrong with guacamole added. it adds delight to everything! I was so glad after years of making guac with sour cream, that i found out it should never have sour cream in it. Soooo much better! keep well

    1. Thanks Sherry yes I love it too but don't normally cook it very much at home, so this was a real treat. Stay safe, Pauline


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