September 12, 2019
Everyone has a meal, maybe a few, that remind them of their upbringing. It doesn’t even have to be anything fancy. There are meals that serve up as much nostalgia as they do flavor. One meal that I always think of as a go-to, no stress dinner is my mom’s enchilada casserole. This, as I have come to learn and appreciate in my current financial situation, is a low cost, high reward meal that packs massive flavor.
While I am a sucker for my mom’s dish, I decided to make a rendition that incorporated my favorite Mexican sauce, Mole. Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce that usually takes hours to make. Although I would still love to give a more traditional recipe a try sometime, the recipe I went with took me about 30 minutes and was still excellent. But before I get too far ahead, let’s start with the chicken.
Place three chicken breasts in a large pot of water, add a few large pinches of salt and cover with a lid. You can also use chicken or vegetable stock if you have it, in which case you wouldn’t need to season it. Bring this to a gentle boil for about 10-15 minutes. Once your chicken is cooked through (165* internal temp for poultry) you can remove it from your liquid and let it cook. While this is boiling, let’s get that rice cooked up. If you have a rice cooker, then you know the drill. If not, put three cups of water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Add your rice and bring it back to a gentle boil, then cover it and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. A gentle simmer is the key, if it’s too hot you’ll get a layer of burnt rice at the bottom of your pot and no one wants that.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan. Add your onions, garlic, and peppers into the oil. Sauté until soft, about five to seven minutes, stirring frequently. Add in your dry seasonings, I know it looks like way too much but I promise you it’s worth it. Stir this around until everything has a nice coat, then remove from the heat. This is going to help bring a lot of the flavor out of the seasonings before adding liquid. Once removed from heat, add in your veggie stock. Stir this around, you can use your spatula to lift up some of the goodies that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Now we have a big pan of tasty soup, but we want a sauce; enter blender. I use a Ninja because it’s all I have available. If you have an immersion blender, that would be the easiest, but any blender should do the trick. Blend until you have a nice smooth consistency. Add this back to the pan and add in your almond butter, tomato paste, and cocoa powder to the liquid and stir well. Salt to taste, remove from heat, and relax… That was the “hard” part of this meal. Before moving on, set aside one-third of the sauce to top your casserole.
Now comes the fun part – getting creative with the vessel. I went simple and cost effective with mine: refried beans, rice, and chicken. Start by shredding the chicken you have cooked up, I use two forks and pull it apart that way. Add all this chicken to the mole and stir to get a good coat on it. Add beans, rice, and chicken to your tortilla. When rolling these bad boys you don’t have to worry about closing the ends, so just roll it up tight and add it to your 9×13 casserole dish. Repeat this till you’re dish is full. You should be able to fit five or six, depending on how much of the goods you put in them. Top this with the reserved sauce and a healthy dose of shredded cheese, as this is an important step in making sure the tortillas are moistened and they won’t burn to a crisp. Now that everything is in order, let’s get to baking.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it, as you don’t want the sauce to bubble over and make a mess. Remove from the oven and let this cool for about five to seven minutes. I know it’s hard to wait, but it’s better than melting your mouth and not tasting anything for a week. I like to garnish with avocado and cilantro – if that’s not your cup of tea then don’t, but please know that I am judging you.
The flavor that this recipe has is so unique and one of my absolute favorites, but the best part of it is how well it holds. You can make a double batch and freeze the second one. It’ll last for a long time and just needs to be thrown in the oven on a rainy day when you don’t have the energy to whip up a nice meal. For this you’ll want to cover it with foil and bake it at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for about 15 more minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the edges look crispy.
And there you have it – Chicken Mole Enchiladas. Until next time!
Ingredients for Mole sauce:
Olive oil – 3 Tbsp
Sweet Onion – 1
Garlic minced – 4 cloves
Jalepeño – 1 Chile powder – 1/4 cup
Flour – 1 Tbsp
Cinnamon – 1Tsp
Cumin – 2 Tsp
Vegetable Stock – 2 1/2 cup
Almond butter (or peanut butter) – 2 Tbsp
Tomato Paste – 1 Tbsp
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – 1 Tbsp
Ingredients for Enchiladas:
3 large chicken breasts
1 pack burrito size tortillas
1 can refried beans
1 1/2 cup rice
8 oz shredded cheese
Written by: Clay Copper
Clay is a grad student that is still trying to figure out what he is doing with his life. Sometimes he writes about relevant topics here, but mostly he writes about what he cares about and hopes you enjoy it.