Easiest Chicken Enchilada Casserole
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I’m so taken by this chicken enchilada casserole recipe, because it’s extremely simple and incredibly flavorful, unlike so many other enchilada recipes I’ve attempted previously. It was originally published in the WSJ’s “Slow Food Fast” column and it comes from Chef Spike Gjerde of Baltimore’s Woodbury Kitchen.
Here’s the gist: After you make the sauce—a mix of broiled onions and garlic, canned tomatoes, and chipotles in adobo that simmers for 7 minutes—you layer it lasagna-style with tortillas, cheese, chicken, scallions, and cilantro. Twenty-five minutes in the oven, and it’s done. That’s it! There’s no frying of the tortillas, no dipping of the tortillas in sauce, no stuffing and rolling—there’s nothing that might keep you from making enchiladas as often as you would like.
Once you make enchiladas lasagna-style, it’s hard to go back. Here you get all the same goodness — tortillas layered with sauce, cheese, meat, and vegetables — without the hassle the traditional preparation demands.
This recipe is endlessly adaptable to your tastes and preferences. I love it with kale and mushrooms, too.
The sauce starts by broiling onions and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes:
Then you simmer them with canned tomatoes and chipotles in adobo sauce:
After 7 minutes of simmering, it looks like this:
And is ready to be puréed:
This sauce is so good. Very spicy. It’s great with kale and mushrooms, too.
Poach a few chicken breasts as the sauce simmers, then shred them:
Time to asssemble!
Ready for the oven!
25 minutes later, dinner is served!
Adapted from Spike Gjerde’s recipe for Smoky Chicken Enchiladas in the WSJ.
- Tortillas: I am partial to tortillas made with a mix of flour and corn. Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s both sell tortillas made with this blend, but use whatever you like. If you prefer all corn, use all corn. If you prefer flour, use all flour.
- Heat level can be amped up by adding a tablespoon of the chipotle in adobo sauce. If you are sensitive to heat, I wouldn’t use more than 1 chipotle in adobo.
- If you don’t want to poach chicken breasts, you could use rotisserie chicken, which is what the original recipe calls for.
- A nice vegetarian option: sautéed kale and mushroom.
- 2s mall boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
- 6 cloves garlic
- Kosher salt
- one 28-oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
- 1 to 2 chipotles in adobo, see notes above
- 14 corn tortillas, see notes above
- 9 ounces grated cheese, such as Monterey Jack or sharp Cheddar
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 6 scallions
- Preheat the broiler to high. Place the chicken breasts in a small pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pan and remove it from the heat.
- Place onions and garlic on a small sheet pan and season with salt all over. Broil until well charred in spots, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from broiler and set aside. Set oven temperature to 425 degrees.
- Place tomatoes, charred onions and garlic, ½ cup water, and 1 to 2 chipotles in adobo (depending on heat tolerance, see notes above). Bring liquid to a simmer and cook until onions soften, about 7 minutes. Off heat, use a handheld blender or food processor to purée to a thick, smooth, uniform sauce, taking care with hot liquid. Set sauce back over low heat and gently simmer to keep warm.
- Remove chicken from poaching liquid and set on a plate to cool. Once cool enough to handle, pull chicken into shreds. Coat bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with a thin layer of sauce. Arrange a single layer of tortillas over sauce, trimming edges to fit. Add chicken to the pot with the remaining sauce.
- Spoon a thin layer of sauce/chicken over tortillas and top with a loose layer of grated cheese. Sprinkle over some cilantro and scallions. Continue layering tortillas, sauce, cheese, scallions, herbs until dish is nearly full. End with a layer of tortillas, a layer of sauce and a final layer of cheese. You should have three layers of tortillas.
- Bake enchiladas on top rack of oven until cheese topping bubbles and browns in spots, 15-20 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and scallions and serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: enchiladas, chicken, casserole, cinco de Mayo, lasagna-style