Thankful for Enchiladas

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Thanksgiving food overload on your feed to bring you a gentle reprieve from the turkey prep, et all. I have a strong love for Thanksgiving food. Christmas is my favorite holiday, but Thanksgiving food is, hands down, my favorite by far. Growing up, I always wondered what my mom had against Thanksgiving food. She was always trying to make something different for Thanksgiving. There was even one year she decided we would have enchiladas for Thanksgiving. Why have enchiladas on the one day a year you get to have roast turkey and all the trimmings?

This might be why I never really liked enchiladas. I tried so many different ones and never really got excited about them. Thankfully, after much protesting from my brother and me (and our spouses), she finally relented and stopped trying to change Thanksgiving. She’s even gotten in on the action by finding really good, more traditional recipes. She made oyster stuffing one year that still has us talking!

So back to enchiladas. They’re not my favorite. I would even go so far and say I really don’t like them. However, when you get married, you learn to do things for the other person you wouldn’t do otherwise because you love them and their happiness is important to you. Meat loaf is one things and enchiladas are another. The Mr isn’t terribly picky. There are some things he doesn’t care for that I manage to slip in to some recipes, but for the most part he eats what I set before him. Notwithstanding, on occasion I like to surprise him with a meal I’m positive he’ll love.

I’ve recently mentioned how we’ve been doing more shelf-cooking in the midst of the holiday season in order to use up some of our pantry staples and stretch our grocery budget. I noticed in this experiment that I had a can of green chile enchilada sauce in my pantry and some leftover Siete Almond Flour Tortillas in my freezer. Flipping through Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Table cookbook (Volume I. Volume II is currently preordered!) I recalled seeing her list a recipe for her Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas. This recipe called for using store bought rotisserie chicken for the filling. There also happened to be a coupon at my local Sprouts for 25% off rotisserie chicken. It was as if the ‘Chopped’ stars aligned and purposed for me to make this! Many of the ingredients were just flat out pantry staples anyway! Perfect.

So there I was planning my meals for the week and found myself actually planning for enchiladas. I was taking the leap. The great thing about this recipe though was that it called for some less Tex-Mex, more traditional ingredients with which I was already familiar. I don’t care what you say about cream of chicken soup. It’s comfortable like your favorite broken-in pair of jeans and a great vehicle for the base of this enchilada sauce. It added a certain richness that I haven’t found otherwise and made me actually really like it. Joanna has a way of making ordinary, mundane things and bringing out the best in them, doesn’t she?

I want to take a minute and talk about how Walmart has been stepping it up lately in the “alternative foods” department. I was able to find gluten free cream of chicken soup of all things! Having gone gluten free by choice, I would’ve opted for the regular stuff this time or made my own, but it was nice to be able to find nonetheless. It was really appreciated. Walmart still isn’t my first choice for grocery shopping, but it’s nice to know those things are there when of if I need them.

Another aspect of this enchilada recipe that made it more engaging was that it called for shredded mozzarella as opposed to the standard Tex-Mex shredded cheeses. This almost made the dish feel like a casserole or Mex-Italian fusion (if there were such a thing). Mozzarella is a nice mild cheese that allows other ingredients to really shine through. The chopped green chiles in the filling were able to be seen and heard without having to fight other flavors for attention. The rotisserie chicken didn’t dry out and maintained it’s well-seasoned, mild flavor.

The accompanying recipe for Mexican rice along with a can of charro beans really rounded out this dish well. The Mexican rice recipe was pretty standard, but truly you don’t mess with the classics so I can’t really complain here! There were plenty of alternatives offered in this recipe. So many so that I opted to make the recipe based on the first options given and determined to save the alternates to remake this recipe another time. Yes, I know. I don’t typically do this, but I was liking where this was going so far! I may even swap out the cream of chicken with cream of mushroom and the mozz with my favorite shredded Mexican blend with taco seasoning!

The dish was an instant hit in the Smith Haus. Winner winner chicken dinner! Usually a recipe will take us through a couple of days of leftovers, but we only managed to squeeze out one extra day from this recipe. It was definitely a plate-licker! And with so many ways to vary the recipe and/or ingredients, she left us so much more to explore here. And I can officially say, I like (these) enchiladas. Maybe one day, Joanna can get me to try her Beef Enchilada recipe…

What are some of your most treasured enchilada recipes?

Currently Reading: Bon Appétit magazine, December 2013 issue

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