Growing up in Chicago, I didn’t know an enchilada from a tostada. We simply didn’t eat Mexican food—perhaps because there was little of it, perhaps because my father’s taste in food was strictly British. I didn’t have Mexican food until I moved to Fort Worth in the mid-sixties, and I distinctly remember being very wary the first time I ate at Joe T.’s. Today I often crave Tex-Mex, though I am not a fan of anything in the pepper family, and I shy away from anything very spicy. The thing about Tex-Mex, to me, is that at its best, it’s not spicy.
Which brings us to enchiladas. My very favorite kind is spinach, but they’re rare and not often on restaurant menus. I used to love Tres Joses where the spinach enchiladas were the best but, alas, apparently not good enough to sustain the restaurant. So if I can’t have spinach, I’ll take chicken with sour cream, thank you. But I don’t like to make them.
Jordan makes wonderful cheese enchiladas and chicken. She goes through the whole process of softening the tortillas and making the filling and rolling the tortillas into enchiladas? Me? I’m discovering with age and my tiny kitchen I really like shortcuts. And I particularly don’t want to fry tortillas on my hotplate. I love to make King Ranch chicken instead of enchiladas because you tear the corn tortillas into big pieces—no frying, no prep, just layer them in the casserole.
Then I happened on a chicken enchilada pie recipe—don’t remember where I found it. But I tried it one evening, with some reservation because I thought it would be too close to King Ranch. Not at all! Quick, easy, delicious—and addictive! I didn’t mess with the recipe at all, except that I had an unmeasured amount of homemade taco seasoning in the freezer and used all of it in place of the package called for. With the first bite, I thought the taco seasoning was too prominent, but it softened and in leftovers I was not at all aware of it. Just for fun, I’m including my taco seasoning recipe with the pie directions.
Chicken enchilada pie
One rotisserie chicken, skinned, boned and diced—about three cups
1 pkg. taco seasoning (or make your own)
1 can Rotel (I prefer lime and cilantro flavor)
3 cans green chilies (recipe calls for four, but I cut it down)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
16 oz sour cream
Fresh corn tortillas
Green onion (optional)
Jalapeños, chopped (optional)
Toss the chicken pieces with taco seasoning until all are thoroughly covered. Separately, mix Rotel, 2 cans chillies, mushroom soup, and 8 oz. sour cream. Add chicken.
The recipe called for frying tortillas, but I didn’t do it. I did cut them in half, so I could line the pan with sort of moon-shaped tortilla pieces (I could just as easily have torn them into large pieces.) Make layers of tortillas and chicken mixture—you should have three layers of tortillas and two of chicken.
Mix remaining sour cream and one can of chilies. Spread evenly over top layer of tortillas. Top with plenty of grated cheese—I prefer cheddar, but you could mix in some Monterey Jack.
Bake at 375o for twenty minutes or so until heated through and the cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle with chopped green onions for serving. You can if you wish sprinkle some jalapeños over it also, either before or after baking. But I’m not going to do that.
Ever read the ingredients list on your favorite brand of taco seasoning? I bet there are some artificial flavors and colors, some preservatives, a lot of stuff you don’t necessarily want to put in your body. Making your own is simple and cheaper. And you probably have most of the ingredients on hand
Homemade taco seasoning
1 Tbsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. onion power
¼ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. finely ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper to taste, optional
Store unused portion if any in the freezer