Trisha Yearwood shared her chicken enchilada recipe with me a few weeks ago, and I’ve made the things five times since.
I’ve altered some things from her recipe (friends can do that), but the cream cheese factor is the unique ingredient and that’s her idea, so she still gets the credit. I’ve added the chicken prep part, which is super important here, so that’s my part. I think we collaborate well.
Here we go…
The CHICKEN PART:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 T. olive oil
1 package Taco Seasoning
Slice the chicken breasts in half length-wise, so they are thin and relatively uniform. Thinner chicken means less cooking time = not dry!
Then, BRINE THE CHICKEN. This is very easy!
Place 4 C. cool water in a container with a lid. Stir in 4 T. salt and 4 T. sugar. (For a bigger batch of chicken, the ratio is always 1 C. water to 1 T. salt/1 T sugar.)
Stir until dissolved. Slide the chicken in the water, cover, and refrigerate in for 1 1/2 hours. In the meantime, do some laundry, paint your nails, or watch some trash television (or C-span – whatever floats your boat.) When time’s up, drain the chicken and pat it dry. (This is the best prep method for cooking/grilling chicken anytime, not just for this recipe. Once cooked, you can cut the chicken with a fork; it’s always tender and juicy.)
Medium heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Lay the brined chicken in the pan and sprinkle the pieces with half a package of Taco Seasoning. Cook the chicken for about three minutes. Flip the chicken and sprinkle the other side with the rest of the Taco Seasoning. (Half a packet for each side.)
Cook for another three minutes.
DON’T overcook the chicken – it’s going to sustain more heat in the oven.
Cut a piece in half to check for doneness. As soon as it’s done, remove the chicken and place it on a cutting board to cool a bit. Slice the chicken into strips. (Trisha shreds her chicken, but I want to taste the tenderness of the brined bird, so I use strips.)
DON’T wash the skillet. You’re going cook the rest of the ingredients in all the lovely juices left behind.
The ENCHILADA PART:
Half to a whole medium chopped onion, whatever you like
2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
3/4 package of cream cheese, softened
Half of a 4-ounce can of chopped green chilies, with liquid (if you like things spicy, use the whole can)
Half of a 5-ounce packet Hidden Valley Ranch (or equivalent) salad dressing/seasoning mix
Eight 8-inch flour tortillas
4 C. shredded cheese (I use sharp cheddar; Trisha likes Monterrey Jack)
1 to 1 1/2 16-oz. jar(s) picante sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×12 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
Add the chopped onion to the skillet and saute until softened. If needed, add another T. of olive oil. Add the diced garlic and cook another minute. Be sure to lift off all the browned, seasoned bits from the skillet. You want to transfer it all to the onions.
Stir in the green chilies, cream cheese, and Ranch dressing. Cook and stir constantly on low until the cream cheese is melted and smooth, 2-3 minutes. Fold in sliced chicken. When uniformly combined, remove from heat.
Lay tortillas flat on a clean dry surface and spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture down the center of each. (To help with measuring, I first spread the chicken mixture around the pan evenly. Then, with a spatula, I slice the mixture in half, then quarters, then 8ths, like a pie. This gives me 8 even portions). Sprinkle with a bit of cheese and roll up the tortillas, folding in the sides. Lay seam-side down in the prepared baking dish.
Spread picante sauce over the top, covering every tortilla well. You will need a jar of sauce, and maybe a little of a second jar. This varies every time I make these. Sprinkle the cheese over the sauce. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Cool 10 min. before cutting into the tortillas; this allows the juices to thicken.
I was never an enchilada fan, and I always found chicken dry, but when I discovered this recipe and the brined chicken method, I changed my tune.
Trisha and I are a pretty good team. 🙂