Friday, January 4, 2013

Wrap up dinner with cheesy chicken enchiladas

If you have leftover cooked chicken or turkey on hand, this is the recipe for you. If you don't, keep it in mind next time you pick up a rotisserie chicken -- especially if you buy one of the giant ones sold at the warehouse stores. Now that our kids are out of the house, those chickens are too big for one meal but too good a value for me to pass up. I chop or shred the leftover meat and freeze it to use in recipes like this one.

Despite the enchilada sauce and the Southwestern seasoning, these enchiladas are mildly spiced. If you'd like more heat, use more seasoning or add chopped chiles to the filling. Sliced black olives make a nice addition to the filling too.

Using light cream cheese in the filling helps keeps the fat and calorie count down. You can use reduced-fat shredded cheese too, but it won't melt as well as the regular variety. Subbing reduced-fat for regular shredded cheese would save about 8 calories and three-fourths gram of fat per enchilada.

Yield: 5 or 6 servings (see note)

1 (12-ounce) bottle enchilada sauce (for a gluten-free variation, see below)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (or turkey)
1/2 cup cup chicken broth
1 cup (8 ounces) soft light cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt-free Southwest-style seasoning
10 to 12 6-inch corn tortillas
3/4 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese or more to taste
Low-fat sour cream, for optional garnish
Sliced black olives, for optional garnish
Sliced avocado, for optional garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1/4 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add onion; cook until it starts to brown. Stir in chicken or turkey. Add broth, reduce heat to low and let simmer until most of the broth has been absorbed. Add cream cheese, seasoning and 1/4 cup enchilada sauce; stir until well blended. Remove from heat.

Wrap three or four tortillas at a time in damp paper towels and microwave on high until softened, about 20 to 30 seconds. For each enchilada, spoon 1/3 cup filling in a strip down the center of a tortilla; roll the tortilla around the filling. Arrange enchiladas snugly in the baking dish.

Spread the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.

Spray a piece of aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the baking dish, sprayed side down. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until enchiladas are heated through and the cheese is bubbly, about 15 minutes longer.

Per enchilada (made with chicken breast): About 220 calories and 8 grams total fat.

Gluten-free variation: Substitute a thick, smooth salsa for the enchilada sauce.

Note: This recipe can be halved and baked in a 7-by-12-inch baking dish for about 25 minutes.

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  1. Sounds yummy! Any thoughts on creating a vegetarian or pescetarian version of this? The broth is easy to substitute, of course, but would mahi mahi stand up to this dish, you think (I'm not typically a fan of meat substitutes)? Is there even such a thing (yet) as a fish enchilada? Maybe mushrooms instead?

  2. I don't think cooked fish could take that much time in the oven without drying out, and raw fish would release too much liquid into the filling. Instead, I'd use veggies -- sauteed mushrooms, onions, zucchini, even blanched cauliflower might be good. Be sure to cook as much liquid off the vegetables as you can before adding the cream cheese. You probably can omit the broth entirely -- the veggies will be moist enough on their own.
    I'm glad you're thinking about trying this -- let me know how it turns out!