During the holidays, it's nice to have a meal you can simply pop in the oven after a busy day of shopping or socializing. My go-to make-ahead dinner is enchiladas. This casserole-like recipe is quite easy (don't feel guilty about using shredded rotisserie chicken) and can be prepared up to two days in advance. That leaves plenty of time for scratch margaritas and homemade guacamole!
For a complete Tex-Mex meal, serve with Spanish rice and beans.
1 to 2 tablespoons oil
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
4-ounce can green chiles
2 cups Homemade Enchilada Sauce (recipe follows)
8 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar and Jack cheeses
Chopped cilantro, chopped green onions and sour cream for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat some oil (about 1 tablespoon) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add shredded chicken and chiles and 1/2 cup or so of enchilada sauce to moisten. (It should be wet but not soupy.) Stir to combine, and season with salt and pepper.
Coat the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan with a ladle of enchilada sauce.
Wrap tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave on high for 30 seconds. (This softens them and makes them more pliable.) Alternatively, fry the tortillas one at a time for about 30 seconds on a dry skillet.
Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture and a pinch of cheese on each tortilla. Roll into a cigar shape, and place in pan seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese. (You can use more than 1 cup if you like your enchiladas really cheesy.)
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cheese melts and top is brown and bubbly.
Garnish with chopped cilantro, green onions and dollops of sour cream.
HOMEMADE ENCHILADA SAUCE
I can't remember where I found this recipe more than 20 years ago, but it's one of our family favorites. We're a saucy bunch, so I always double it.
2 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup hot water
1 beef bouillon cube
16 ounces tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Heat oil over low heat in large saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add hot water, bouillon cube, tomato sauce, chili powder, sugar, salt and cumin and simmer for 10 minutes. Add more chili powder to taste.
In separate bowl, add cornstarch to cold water and stir well. Slowly add to enchilada sauce, and stir until well mixed.
Makes about 2 cups of sauce.
Gretchen McKay: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.