There is almost nothing more rewarding in a weeknight meal than shortcuts that actually make a recipe yummier.
Recently, I took a bunch of shortcuts when making enchiladas and the verdict by all was that they were much, much yummier. When my in-laws visit, I prepare Mexican food a number of times. They spent dozens of years in the Netherlands and now live in Greece and neither country has nearly as much Mexican cuisine or ingredients as we have in Chicago.
It’s interesting to consider what type of foreign cuisines are most prevalent in different countries. It usually has to do with proximity or previous colonization of far off places. In the Netherlands, Indonesian food is common (and delicious) and French and Greek food are also popular. Italian food seems to be the most ubiquitous. Perhaps it’s because the basic flavors are easy to love and the main ingredients are easy to come by. On Corfu, Greece, where my in-laws live now, there are mostly Greek restaurants. I’m guessing that hauling any type of ingredients to an island is a chore, let alone far flung specialities.
From what I have found, black beans and tortillas are not readily available in Europe. So, when my family visits, I treat them to some Mexican staples. Chicago is blessed with fresh tortillas in almost every market and our local store sells house made salsas and guacamole that are hard to beat. The last time I made enchiladas, I was short on time and decided to really cut corners and buy a grocery store roasted chicken.
Though I enjoy cooking large meals and don’t feel burdened by the labor, I unpacked my groceries and realized I had a major “shortcut” meal on my hands. I purchased salsa verde, a bag of shredded cheese, flour tortillas and a rotisserie chicken.
The preparation was easy and came together quickly. Every member of my family had seconds, praised the recipe, and decided it was the best I had ever made. Knowing that my shortcuts improved my recipe made me feel like I’d won the lottery.
In my consulting work, I often find ways to put information into graphs or charts to help visually communicate concepts. I have been working too much lately and I find that my everyday life often gets “charted” in my head, whether I like it or not. Without intention, I found myself grinning as I imagined a two-by-two graph of weeknight dinners and excitedly realized that this new version of enchiladas hit the “jackpot” quadrant of recipes that are both fast and delicious.
I served the enchiladas with some doctored up, canned black beans, guacamole and this mango jicama salad (without the blueberries this time). Though I have ideas about making and canning my own tomatillo salsa some day, I doubt I will ever cook my own chicken for enchiladas again.
Make extras or double the batch – leftovers are even better the next day.
Easy Echiladas Verde
Serves 5-6 people (more if they are kids)
1 cookied rotisserie chicken (from the deli of a store)
1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups salsa verde (I like Frontera Grill)
ten small flour tortillas (enchilada size, about 8 inches in diameter)
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk for dipping tortillas
Fresh Cilantro for garnish (optional)
For serving (optional)
Remove the meat from the chicken. Take skin off and cut chicken into bite size pieces and put it in a bowl. Mix 1/2 cup shredded cheese and 1/2 cup salsa verde in with the chicken. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour 1/2 cup of salsa verde on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan and spread it around. Pour the milk in a shallow dish for dipping the tortillas. One at a time, dip the tortillas into the milk covering completely for about 5 seconds. Then fill the tortilla with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of chicken and cheese filling. Roll the tortilla and put it in the pan. Repeat until the pan is full and the filling is gone.
Cover the enchiladas with the remaining 1 1/2 cups salsa verde. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top. Bake in the oven for about 18-20 minutes until heated through and cheese is on top is melted.