Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Toss the Store-Bought Sauce!

There are many things that bring me joy in the kitchen, but at the top of my list is discovering that it's outrageously simple (and more delicious!) to make something from scratch that's most often store-bought.

I've made enchiladas a million times. And I believe 999,999 of those times, I used store-bought, canned sauce. It wasn't until a few months ago, when I took a stab at another America's Test Kitchen enchilada recipe, that it even occurred to me that I could make the sauce myself. Well, that recipe was just ok. And given that it was an enchilada casserole recipe, the sauce wasn't really a standout star. But last night, when I was looking for a way to use up my leftover rotisserie chicken from the rustic tart I'd made the night before, I came across another Test Kitchen recipe with a slightly different twist on from-scratch enchilada sauce.

I hate it when people describe the flavors of a dish as "complex" because I think it makes them sound like complete and total food snobs. But I'm afraid I'm at a loss for a more appropriate term to explain this sauce. It's rich, it's spicy, and it has an awesome, thick texture that lingers on your tongue (in a good way, not a weird way!). It's almost reminiscent of a mole sauce, though it's clearly not!

Just try it. Once you go homemade, you'll never need store aid!

Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce
For Sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 cups canned tomato sauce
1/4 cup water

For Enchiladas
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 3/4 cups Homemade Enchilada Sauce
1 cup shredded Jack or Mexican-blend cheese
1 tablespoon chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
1 green onion, sliced thin
6 flour tortillas, warmed

To make sauce, heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder, garlic, cumin, and sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce and water, bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare enchiladas, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine shredded chicken, 1/2 cup sauce, 1/2 cup cheese, chipotle pepper, and half of the green onion in bowl.

Spread 1/4 cup sauce over the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Spread tortillas on a clean counter and spoon 1/3 cup chicken filling down the center of each. Tightly roll tortillas around filling and lay, seam side down, in prepared dish.

Pour remaining sauce evenly over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Top with remaining green onion slices. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake until enchiladas are heated through, about 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

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