There is a constant battle in the Cwach kitchen when it comes to achieving the perfect level of spiciness.
My husband, Dan, loves to add a dash of fieriness to our food – usually whenever my back is turned. And by a dash, I mean a very healthy dose of whatever he’s got within arm’s reach – Sriracha, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, jalapeños, you name it. It’s not uncommon for me to take a bite and find my mouth ablaze, only to turn to Dan, who’s wearing a sheepish expression on his face. He’s a man who inherited the philosophy, “If some is good, then more is better” from his dad, which we have found can turn very interesting when applied in the kitchen.
But while our taste buds may differ when it comes to handling heat, one dish we can agree on is this creamy chicken and jalapeño enchilada recipe. While this is not an authentic enchilada recipe, it is can’t-put-your-fork-down delicious – in fact, Dan has declared it’s his favorite meal of all time. I love this recipe because it’s a cinch to pull together, especially when you use a rotisserie chicken. It can also be prepped the night before and cooked the day of, making it perfect for company, and it freezes beautifully (just assemble and freeze prior to cooking). Dan loves it because it uses both jalapeños and jalapeño juice- a double whammy of spicy goodness.
Though we often eyeball measurements when we cook together, this is one recipe where I ask that he measures the amount of chopped jalapeños and jalapeño juice that goes into the enchiladas. At exactly half a cup of chopped jalapeños and two tablespoons of jalapeño juice, it just reaches our mutually-agreed-upon spiciness threshold, where I start to sweat a little and he starts to feel a pleasant burn. If serving to kids or those who don’t like spicy foods, I would consider at least halving the jalapeños and jalapeño juice, or leaving them out entirely.
Standard fixings apply here – sour cream, avocado, chopped tomatoes, cilantro and shredded cheese. I also like to whip up a five-ingredient spicy corn dip that is delicious served ahead of the meal with corn or tortilla chips. It also makes a fabulous topping on the enchiladas, where the avocado balances out the heat from the jalapeños.
These enchiladas are perfect paired with a classic margarita, fruity sangria or cold cerveza. Add a side of Mexican Street Corn (grilled corn on the cob slathered in cayenne-spiked mayo and topped with cotija cheese) and enjoy this summer.
Creamy Chicken and Jalapeño Enchiladas
1 ½ pound chicken breasts, poached in boiling water, cooled and shredded (or 1 rotisserie chicken)
2 (10-ounce) cans green enchilada sauce
1/2 block (4 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup jarred jalapeño peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons juice from jalapeño jar
1/2 cup cilantro, plus more for garnish
10 soft flour tortillas
2 cups pepper jack cheese
Cubed avocado, for garnish
Favorite salsa, for garnish
Fresh jalapeño slices, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together enchilada sauce, cream cheese, milk and the jarred jalapeño juice.
In another bowl, combine the shredded chicken with 1/2 cup of the sauce mixture, jarred jalapeño peppers and cilantro. Mix together to coat.
Place about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla and roll to close.
Pour about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish. Arrange the tortillas seam-side down in the baking dish. Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas. Top with shredded cheese and bake for 30 minutes.
Broil for a few minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly (watch so it doesn’t burn!). Garnish with favorite salsa, fresh jalapeño peppers, more cilantro, sour cream and avocado.
Avocado/Black Bean/Spicy Corn Dip
14.5-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 avocado, cubed
8 ounce block pepper jack cheese, cubed
16-ounce jar Stonewall spicy corn relish
Cube the avocado and place in large bowl. Cube cheese into small chunks and add to avocado. Rinse and drain can of black beans and add to avocado/cheese mixture. Mix in can of fire-roasted tomatoes and spicy corn relish. Serve with corn or tortilla chips, and enjoy!