Chicken Enchiladas & Where I Take “Processed Food”

A while back, I railed on New Jersey for making me feel like I was in a culinary backwater for denying me my precious duck fat. (Duck fat update: Freezer is stocked with the good stuff from NYC so all future disasters should be avoided.)

As I like to keep my opinions fair and balanced, I’m going to give some love to a wonderful part of living here. Tonight’s chicken enchiladas are mostly thanks to Bravo, my pan-latin chain market that makes me feel like I stepped into Oaxaca.

The diversity of very densely-packed ethnic groups = AMAZING grocery stores. Case in point: Bravo in Dover, NJ.

In my local grocery, the avocados are $4 each. Not the organic ones. At Bravo, 2 for $3.

In my local grocery, I helped the checkout guy look up “tomatillo” on the produce spreadsheet only to discover that it wasn’t there and they had to call the Spanish-speaking produce stock guy to give them the PLU code. At Bravo, tomatillos are sold in bulk, for 99¢/#. And its written just like that.

In my local grocery, I can buy all varieties of Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill Taco Skillet Sauces and a house-rotisseried chicken. At Bravo, I can buy from a selection of cheeses, cremas, and tortillas, each from its own country of origin, all under $5.

Here’s where I let “processed” food into my life. Is Mr. Bayless’ taco sauce processed? Absolutely. And yet, he manages to pull it off in a way that is both delicious and low in sodium in a recyclable pouch.

Is my rotisserie chicken processed? Yes, so said by the deliverers of food stamps that keep processed food off the okay-to-purchase list.

However, brought together with my authentic queso and crema, in tortillas from Mexico, I’m willing to don the “eater of processed food” hat. Actually, it probably would have been faster with raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts to start with but this was extra satisfying because the rotisserie chicken meat was leftover from last night’s quick meal of chicken and buttered noodles n’ peas, thus lowering my food cost ever more.

So here’s how I made tonight’s chicken enchiladas:

Shred the meat from leftover rotisserie. Set aside.

In a pan set over medium heat, warm some vegetable oil. Add one sliced onion (Video: How to Slice an Onion) and once sliced poblano pepper. You can use a bell pepper if you can’t find poblanos. Sprinkle in some kosher salt and cook slowly until the onions are fairly soft.

Meanwhile, on another burner of your stove, toast about a dozen tortillas, one by one. First, dip in a bowl of water for just a second, then lay the tortilla right on the burner over the open flame. Let warm there until the top is dry, then using tongs, flip for another 10 seconds and move to a plate lined with a clean kitchen towel and cover to trap in the steam. Repeat this process until you have a big ol’ pile of warm tortillas.

Then, into your peppers and onions, add a pouch or two of the Frontera Taco Skillet Sauce. I used one for chicken and one for ground beef. Heat until bubbly and hot then taste. At this point, I added a tablespoon of ground cumin, another tablespoon or so of chili powder and several dashes of the hottest hot sauce I own, as the sauce in the pouch is fairly tame on the seasonings.

Add the reserved shredded chicken and stir occasionally until hot. Use a spoon to get a little of the sauce into the bottom of your baking dish.

Using your pile of tortillas, make little roll-ups with one tortilla and a pinch of filling, using a fork or tongs to leave the dripping sauce behind. Continue until you fill up your baking dish.

Then, to the remaining sauce (no more chicken or peppers and onions, just sauce) add a few spashes of water to loosen and pour over the enchiladas leaving the tortilla ends exposed so they get crispy. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes. Then, crumble on some queso and bake for 10 minutes more.

Serve with shredded lettuce, some sliced avocado, fresh cilantro, a few lime wedges, and some more crumbled queso and pour on a bit of crema. Enjoy!