On our third date, my husband made me dinner. It was our third date in three days. It was also the night we decided to get married. We make quick decisions.
I did not know the trouble he had had making these enchiladas before I got to his apartment.
He burned the chicken for the filling and had to run out. For some reason he substituted it with canned chicken. Gulp. He was also on a health kick and used all low-fat ingredients. Double gulp. Needless to say that dish is a bit different than the one we make today.
I say “we” but I really mean “I.”
1 1/2 pounds of salsa chicken (recipe here. It will make double the amount of chicken you will need for this dish. You can halve it, double this recipe or save it for a different dish. I use the leftovers from tacos the night before)
15 oz. can green enchilada sauce
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
8 oz. softened cream cheese
10 white corn tortillas
2 cups shredded mexican cheese
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Make my salsa chicken in the crockpot. This will take 4-5 hours. Shred. Set aside. I used leftover chicken from the night before.
Pour vegetable oil in a small skillet. Heat over medium heat until hot. Fry tortillas one at a time for approximately 8 seconds each side. You do not want the tortillas hard, just soft and malleable. Don’t worry about any little holes in a tortilla. It will be covered with cheese and no one will ever know. Well, unless you post the pictures of it on the Internet. But who would be dumb enough to do that?
Lay two paper towels on a plate. Place the tortilla on the paper towel lined plate. Lay four-five tortillas on paper towels in a single layer. Repeat paper towel layers. Repeat tortillas until all fried. Allow tortillas to cool while moving on to the next step.
In a large skillet, mix together cream cheese, cream of chicken soups, and green enchilada sauce. Heat and stir ingredients in skillet over medium heat.
It will be lumpy at first. Keep stirring. I use a whisk.
And then, in a miraculous moment, it will all come together. Turn off heat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Smear some of the enchilada sauce in a 9 X 13 pan.
Take a tortilla and rub some sauce down the middle.
Place a good handful of shredded chicken in the middle of tortilla. Roll up tortilla with sauce and chicken inside and place seam side down in pan.
Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. I fill the pan, even on the sides because I do not want to dirty more dishes.
Pour remaining sauce on top of filled tortillas. With a spatula, flatten it into place.
Cover with the scrumptious cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for twenty five minutes. After twenty five minutes, remove foil and bake for an additional ten minutes.
Remove from oven and serve!
We used to make this enchilada dish every Christmas Eve. This was the first year we made it for Christmas instead.
You see, a few years ago my husband decided to switch up the recipe. He abandoned this one and made The Homesick Texan’s Chicken Enchiladas. And everybody loved them. And all was good. But I missed his old recipe. There was something divine in the simplicity of its creamy essence.
So, we had a battle of the chicken enchiladas on Christmas day. As one does.
My husband won.
Or so he thought.
He forgot one very important factor.
While he may cook ten days out of the year.
I cook on almost all of the days in-between.
That’s a lot of days.
I had not given up on the chicken enchilada recipe.
So, I made them the next week.
And the next.
And the next.
I kind of could not get enough.
My family, on the other hand, finally caved. “Okay! You win!” My daughter finally shouted when she saw the enchiladas make an appearance for the fourth time.
My son did not have her tact. He dragged himself to the dinner table on his knees. “Not again,” he murmured from the floor as he shuffled morosely towards his chair. I did not take it too personally. He dislikes any sort of enchilada. The poor guy had reached his limit.
My daughter was not done. “Look, Mom, these were great the first time. Good the second time. Fine the third time. But, oh my gosh! I don’t know if I can eat any more of these! We have had them so often!”
But I was not done either. “All right. I might not make them again for awhile,” I heard my family give a sigh of relief. I relentlessly continued, “if you can answer me one simple question.”
They looked up at me with shadowed eyes of enchilada weariness. “Anything,” they would have said if they had not fallen into a creamy-cheese-induced-coma.
“Whose enchiladas are really the best?”
“Yours!” Came the pleading sobs from my family.
Just as I suspected.