Happy Cinco de Mayo! While many think that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence day, that is incorrect. Mexican Independence day is actually in September (the 16th, to be exact). Cinco de Mayo is a celebration to commemorate the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. But maybe it should be called Mexican Cuisine and Culture day. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated all over the world now, not just in Mexico and the US. The Cayman Islands holds an annual air guitar competition, there are American-style celebrations in London and Paris, too. My personal favorite, in Vancouver they hold an annual sky-diving event. But no matter where you are, do you really need an excuse to enjoy a nice margarita and some delicious enchiladas? I didn’t think so.
I know what you’re thinking. Ugh! Enchiladas are so much work! Yes, yes they are. But they’re worth it. You won’t be sorry you did. These enchiladas actually surprised me when they didn’t take as long as I had predicted. I was late getting home and told my family that dinner would be late, very late. But I was wrong. We ate dinner on time and I didn’t feel rushed.
- 2 chicken bone-in chicken breasts, 2 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
- 1 large sweet onion, chopped finely
- 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped finely
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tble olive oil
- 2 tsp hot smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3 Tble aji colorado chile paste (see notes)
- 1 cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
- 1½ cups chicken stock
- salt + pepper to taste
- 2 Tble cilantro, chopped
- 12-14 soft corn tortillas
- 2 cups colby or Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
Heat olive oil in a large straight-sided sauté pan or dutch oven. Sauté onion and jalapeño in oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another few minutes, until fragrant and garlic has softened. Add paprika, cumin and aji colorado chile paste. Cook until spices are slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Add chicken to tomato mixture, skin-side down. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook until chicken is cooked through, about 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your breasts and thighs. Flip chicken a few times if necessary to ensure even cooking. When chicken is done, remove from sauce and set aside to cool. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning.
When chicken has cooled, pull from bones and shred into bite-sized pieces. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Pour 1 cup of sauce into chicken. Add chopped cilantro to chicken mixture.
Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray. Spread ½ cup sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish. Heat tortillas in microwave for 15-30 seconds, depending on the strength of your microwave, or wrapped in foil in the oven for 5 minutes, until pliable. Place warmed tortilla on a small plate. Place 2 tablespoons chicken mixture down the middle of the tortilla and roll tortilla up like a cigar. Place in casserole dish seam side down. Continue doing this until all chicken mixture and tortillas have been used and casserole dish is full. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Cover with cheese. Cover dish with foil and bake in oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.
- If you don’t have the aji colorado paste, increase hot smoked paprika to 3 tsp and add 1 T chili powder.
- Serve with sour cream, sliced jalapeños and pico de gallo.