Freezer Nesting: Easy Chicken Enchiladas

This dish is not elaborate. It’s a quick and simple sort of go-to dish that we turn to probably once a month in our household. Everyone loves them, and making them at the end of a workday is no real chore.

Why freeze ahead? Because while everyone in our house loves them, the full recipe is too much for a one-night meal, so we usually halve the recipe for a weeknight meal. Using the full recipe gives us two in one prep session.

Before we dive into the recipe, I want to share one really cool tip I learned after making this batch: fastest way to shred a chicken breast. It’s no trouble to thaw a package of boneless skinless breasts to poach on the stovetop, but the one “chore” element of this recipe is shredding the chicken. I’d grab a couple of forks and rip each breast apart. It got the job done, but more often than not my hands would be cramping up from the death grip I’d have on the forks to tear through the meat. Then I read on another food blog – and this one shows a photo, so you know it’s no lie – that shares how to shred those chicken breasts using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. I’ve tried it several times since then, and darn it all if it doesn’t work beautifully. Give it a go if you try out this recipe.

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

(From “The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook”)

(You’ll notice the chiles are missing in this photo. And the cilantro. Household palates have pared down the heat of this recipe, but the original full recipe is shared below.)
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 12 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded – use sharp or mild, according to your preference
  • 2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce (make your own, or just purchase it premade)
  • 1 to 2 (4-ounce cans chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
  • 12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas

IMG_1760Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the chicken, 2 cups of the cheddar, 12/ cup of the enchilada sauce, the chiles, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

IMG_1761Stack the tortillas on a microwave-safe plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high until warm and pliable, 40 to 60 seconds. Spread the warm tortillas out over a clean counter.

IMG_1764Place 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla.

IMG_1765Tightly roll the tortilla around the filling, then lay seam-side down in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray.

IMG_1767Lightly spray the enchiladas with cooking spray. Pour 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the enchiladas to coat thoroughly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar down the center of the enchiladas. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheddar browns, about 5 minutes longer.

IMG_1768Since we weren’t going to be cooking these right away, I used 8-inch square foil pans to divvy up the recipe. Then, I added the layer of foil that would be needed for baking, plus a top sheet of foil with the thawing and baking instructions written on top. Then it was off to the freezer to wait for the right evening to pull one of these pans and have a quick, satisfying meal that everyone on solid foods just loves.

IMG_1770Still a few more recipes to go until we’re all caught up, folks.

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