Weeknight Chicken Enchiladas

I love Mexican food, and it’s one of the staples in my personal recipe repertoire. However, for a weeknight meal, I don’t always have the time or effort to make a sauce or tortillas from scratch. So I have a shortcut version of chicken enchiladas for those everyday meals. This recipe is also great as it’s perfect for a crowd. One of my favorite ways to use this dish is to double it and take to my father-in-laws house for a big family meal.

I have included short notes on how I make rice and beans to go with this dish, which is a great way to extend this meal into more servings. With a side, I find this typically makes 8 total servings.

A note on timing. For this meal, I find the easiest way to time the meal is to start the chicken cooking in the pressure cooker, start the rice and beans, then when the chicken is done to prepare the enchiladas. If you are using precooked or slow cooked chicken, I would probably go ahead and get the enchiladas in the oven, then start the rice and beans. The good thing about this meal is everything will keep warm really well, so it’s ok if everything isn’t done at the same exact time. If the timing doesn’t line up, just leave the rice on warm or low, leave the beans on low, and leave the enchiladas in the oven with the temp at 200 degrees fahrenheit.

Chicken Enchiladas

Two cans red enchilada sauce

One can green chile enchilada sauce

3 lbs boneless chicken (both dark and white meat work in this recipe, so use your personal preference or budget to decide. Generally, dark meat retains more moisture and white meat can be drier)

Two cups mexican shredded cheese blend

16-18 small tortillas (flour and corn both work, but corn can cause a bit more work as they are more difficult to work with but have a better flavor)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cook the chicken your preferred method. I like to place it in a pressure cooker with about ½ a cup of water, season with chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and cook for about 15 minutes. When it’s done I simply drain the water and use the bowl of the pressure cooker for the next step.
  • Shred the chicken and combine with the can of green chile enchilada sauce.
  • Set up an assembly line with the tortillas on one end, then the chicken mix, then a 9×13 pan. Have your red enchilada sauce nearby, first pouring a small amount in the bottom of the pan to help keep the enchiladas from sticking. 
  • Place a small spoonful of the chicken mix into a tortilla, roll, and place in the pan. It can take a little experience to know how much chicken to put into each enchilada, so err on the side of not enough. I find that it normally takes less than I first think.
  • Once all of the chicken is rolled into tortillas and placed in the pan, cover with the rest of the enchilada sauce, then cover with cheese. 
  • Bake for about 30 minutes. It’s done when the cheese is well melted and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
  • Let cool and enjoy!

Rice and Beans

In this version of rice and beans, I put a lot of flavor in the beans, but leave the rice more plain. I like the balance as I usually serve the beans on top of the rice, but if you want more flavor in your rice you can add a ½ cup of salsa, diced tomatoes and green chiles, or mexican style spices.

For rice, I follow the formula for my rice cooker and add a teaspoon of chicken bouillon paste.

For the beans I use one can of black beans or pinto beans, half a bell pepper, half an onion, one clove of garlic, and a little oil or butter. I sauté the pepper, onion, and garlic in the oil for a few minutes, just until the onion starts to go  a bit translucent, then add the beans and simmer until warm and the rest of the meal is ready. Serve over the rice.

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