We interrupt our regularly scheduled posting to bring you an important announcement.
Happy Texas Independence Day
As a native to the state (although I don’t actually have any state pride), I feel almost obligated to celebrate the independence day of my state now that I no longer live there. It’s my duty as a Texan to perpetuate our ludicrously enormous amount of state pride to the rest of the country after all. And so, since my every-other-day recipe posting somehow didn’t fall on March 2nd, I decided I’ll just post two days in a row and then return to my current posting method.
If you know nothing about Texas history (because for some reason you didn’t have to take a Texas history class like I did), I’ll give you a brief overview. The land now known as the state of Texas was once a part of Spain and later Mexico once Mexico gained their independence. Some time down the line, Texans (Tejanos) didn’t like how the Mexican government was treating them and they opposed the ban on immigrants from the United States. And so, Stephen F. Austin began gathering a military of Tejanos and they began fighting Mexico for independence sometime in October of 1835. It wasn’t until March 2nd, 1836 that Texas officially declared independence from Mexico.
Then there was a lot of fighting, we got the phrase “Remember the Alamo,” and Texas actually gained independence from Mexico. So important people got together and established the Republic of Texas and they began their brief history as an independent country. That didn’t really work out for Texas so they eventually got annexed into the United States in 1845, after finally working out that whole wanting-to-be-a-slave-state thing. Texas history is quite the roller coaster, it’s a weird state.
My roommates and I like to celebrate March 2nd and Texas (we almost feel obligated since we hang a large Texas flag in our common area and own a signed picture of former Governor Rick Perry). So what do I make to celebrate? Tex-Mex of course.
Well, I haven’t actually planned my independence day meal for this year, but in the spirit of the holiday, I’ll share this little recipe. It will be one of many enchilada recipes.
The most important thing I’ve learned to make it Tex-Mex. Mostly because I now live in an area not known for having good Mexican food let alone Tex-Mex (yes, they are different). Enchiladas are probably one of the most well-known dishes from Tex-Mex cuisine and it’s definitely a popular one in my apartment. When the spring comes, don’t worry, tomatillo enchiladas will make an appearance.
I typically use chicken for most of my enchilada recipes because it’s easy.
There are multiple ways I season chicken depending on the enchilada sauce, so here I’ll show you the one I use for queso sauce and chile con carne.
So we’ll start with a mixture of chile powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime zest. I mix all of these into a bowl and then I throw in my chicken and sliced onions to coat them in this delicious spice mix. For this permutation, I’m using store-bought chicken tenders because I could get about a pound more chicken for about half the price of a package of chicken breasts. How the hell does that make sense? If I were using chicken breasts, I would not be using this stovetop method. For that, I’d definitely bake it at 325˚C, covered, with a little bit of chicken stock in the baking dish to keep it moist.
But here, we’ll be doing a stovetop method. So I heated some olive oil in a nonstick skillet and threw in my chicken and onions.
I cooked this only for about 10 or so minutes because that’s about all it needs and even if it’s a little underdone, it’s going in the oven later. The worst thing we could do is over cook it. But I digress. After it’s all cooked up, I throw it into a bowl and try to leave out as much liquid as I possibly can. Then I just let it sit there to cool. I want to shred it and although I could do it even when the chicken is boiling-lava-hot, I opted to let it cool down a bit. After which, I shredded it by hand and threw in a nice helping of Monterey jack cheese for good measure.
Now for the sauce! we’re going for pure, unadulterated queso. Because queso is delicious and who doesn’t love it. And how do we start off any good queso? Well, usually I start it with some chorizo but I think chorizo and chicken would be a little odd of a combination.
Yeah, that’s the answer to the previous rhetorical question. But not just any cheese. Velveeta cheese. Despite it’s sordid appearance and rather unnatural texture, I pretty much live by the idea that no queso is good queso unless it contains Velveeta. I think this is what the stuff was made for and who am I to deprive it of it’s divine purpose? I went for a mixture of the jalapeno queso blanco and the traditional yellow. In a perfect, wealthy world, I would use only the white cheese. But I needed a lot of this stuff and my pockets couldn’t afford the white cheese. So fitting.
Melt this stuff down with a healthy can of diced tomatoes and green chiles and you’ve got just about the tastiest and easiest queso on the block (it tastes better with chorizo though).
Now for the enchiladas. If you’ve even read an enchilada recipe, they tell you to do the most ridiculous things. Namely, dipping the tortilla into the sauce before filling it, rolling it, and placing it into your baking dish. That’s just plain silly. And messy. No, I go for a simpler approach. I lay down a base coat of my queso on the bottom of the baking dish and then I put the filled tortillas on the top. Once I’ve adequately filled my baking dish, I top it off with the rest of the queso and then sprinkle on some more Monterey jack cheese. Because what could a chicken and cheese enchilada with a cheese sauce need? More cheese.
So bake this bad boy at a sweltering 350˚F for about 30 minutes and you’ve got yourself once delicious dish for Texas independence day or any other day you’re feeling extra cheesy.
Chile con Queso Enchiladas
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
- 1 tbs chili powder
- 1 tbs garlic powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 zest of lime
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 lbs chicken
- 3 tbs olive oil
- 1 lb montery jack cheese
- 3 lbs velveeta cheese
- 1 12 oz can diced tomatoes
- Preheat oven to 350˚F
- Combine chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime zest in a bowl
- Add chicken and onions, toss to coat
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat
- Add chicken and onions and cook for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through
- Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool
- Shred chicken and add in ~1 cup of the shredded monterey jack
- In a pot, heat velveeta and canned tomatoes over medium heat
- Heat until cheese melts completely, stirring occasionally to keep cheese from burning
- Heat tortillas in the microwave until pliable, ~30 sec
- Ladle a small layer of queso on the bottom of a baking dish
- Place a thin line of chicken and cheese on a tortilla and roll up
- Place into baking dish and repeat until dish is full
- Ladle remaining queso over the enchiladas
- Top with remaining Monterey jack cheese
- Bake for 30 minutes, serve immediately