Lots of the meals Jared and I have come to know and love (and cook with the utmost frequency) are recipes we’ve discovered during the past few years of marriage. Some are from magazines, some are from blogs, some are makeshift creations we’ve tweaked and refined with time. No matter their origins, however, they’ve become our regular go-tos: the meals we throw together every time I look in the pantry and say: “We have no food! There’s nothing to eat! I’m huuuuungry!” Yes, I tend to lean toward the dramatic when unprepared and unfed.
So we like to try new recipes and are super pumped when we find one that strikes our fancy enough to make it into the regular rotation, but there are also a few “regulars” that carried over from my 21+ years of pre-married life. They are the recipes I grew up on, the meals I requested every year for my birthday. When Jared married me, he also locked himself in to a lifetime of eating my mom’s enchiladas. Thankfully, he’s still pretty smitten with them, too.
This is one of those incredibly simple, super logical recipes that’s a snap (albeit messy) to throw together once you’ve done all your prep work. I think the recipe actually originated with my mom’s mom, so it’s a three-generation kind of culinary love. The only change I’ve made from the original is adding sautéed onions and diced green chilis to the mix; other than that, it’s the same yumminess I’ve been noshing for years.
• 2 or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• 1 yellow onion, chopped
• 1 small can of diced green chilis
• 15 to 20 small corn tortillas
• 1 medium-sized can (about 16 ounces) enchilada sauce (I use a mild sauce so things don’t get too spicy, but feel free to use whatever makes your taste buds happy.)
• 2 small cans sliced black olives
• 1 bunch green onions, chopped
• 10 to 12 ounces cheddar jack cheese (or whatever cheese combo you’d prefer), shredded
Start by cooking the chicken breasts. Boil them, bake them, Crock-Pot them for hours. Basically anything you typically do that results in cooked, tender chicken will do the trick. Once your chicken is cooked, give it a quick shred, then set it aside.
In a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat, sauté the yellow onion until tender and translucent, about 8 minutes. During the last minute of cook time, add the green chilis so they can get heated through. Once the onions and chilis are ready to roll, add the shredded chicken, and give everything a quick toss until thoroughly mixed together. Remove from heat, and put the mixture in a large bowl.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Now it’s time to set up your assembly line. I think it’s easiest to have a separate bowl for each of the enchilada fillings: the chicken mixture, olives, green onions, cheese and enchilada sauce. Take one corn tortilla, give it a quick dip (front and back) in the enchilada sauce until it’s totally covered, then place it on a plate. Add about 3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture and a sprinkling each of the olives, green onions and cheese. Roll up the enchilada, and place it in a 9-by-13-inch pan. Repeat the enchilada-rolling process until all the chicken is gone and the pan is full. Note: Be sure to save some green onions, olives and cheese for the tops of the enchiladas before they go into the oven.
Once the pan is full of enchiladas, pour any remaining enchilada sauce over the top. Then add a layer of the shredded cheese, followed by the remaining green onions and olives. Bake enchiladas for 35 to 40 minutes, until cheese is melted and tortilla edges are nice and crispy.
So that’s the meal I requested for basically every birthday from age 12 to 22. That, along with green bean casserole and fruit salad (a refined palate, I know). It’s simple. It’s easy. But it hits the spot every time.
What are your favorite family recipes that you loved as a kid and continue making today? Have you made any changes? Is the original recipe good as gold? Do tell!