Mexican Chicken Enchiladas with Guacamole

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Enchiladas are one of my favourite Mexican dishes. Enchiladas and tacos. I think it’s the incredibly soft, almost pancake-like texture of the tortillas once they have been baked in the tomato sauce that makes enchiladas so special. Although I must admit I love most Mexican food – the fiery heat of the chilli and the cool contrast of the guacamole and sour cream does it for me every time. And the cheese. Never underestimate the power of cheese. Having never been to Mexico (alas), I imagine that what I consider “Mexican food” is probably a completely bastardised/westernised version of the real deal, but it works for me. If I ever make it to the sunny shores of Acapulco, I’ll write a more authentic version of this recipe. Promise.

Mexican Chicken Enchiladas with Guacamole

500g chicken breast fillets, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, cubed
1 green pepper, cubed
250g mushrooms, sliced
2 tblsp olive oil
6 plain flour tortillas
1/2 fresh chillis
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes/pureed tomato
2/3 tblsp brown sugar
100g cheddar cheese, grated
1 ripe avocado
lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
plain yoghurt or sour cream, to serve
serves 4 

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Season the cubed chicken – sprinkle with some chicken stock powder, or stir through 1 tblsp of soya sauce. Personally I always season chicken with soya sauce – it gives it a great colour and a real “chicken” flavour. It may sound strange, but unseasoned chicken tastes like, well, nothing. Heat 1 tblsp of olive oil in a large pan and stir fry the onions and peppers for about 5min, until they have started to change colour and have softened. Remove the veggies from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the excess oil behind. Add the remaining 1 tblsp of olive oil and allow it a minute to heat up. Then add the cubed chicken. Let it sizzle away for a couple minutes (it will be browning nicely on the underside) and then stir up the chicken with a spatula. Try and flip the pieces so that all the raw edges are face down and can brown. The chicken should only take a couple couple minutes to cook – it’s okay if it’s not quite done, because it will still cook in the oven. Drain the chicken from the pan and add it to the bowl of veggies.

Once the chicken and veggies are done, make the tomato sauce. Combine the two tins of chopped/pureed tomatoes in a jug, add the 2/3 tblsp of brown sugar and season with salt and pepper. For those of you who like it spicy, add 1-2 finely chopped chillis to the sauce. Be careful when you chop the chillis – do NOT touch your eyes anytime soon afterwards. It burns. A lot. If you want to be safe, wear gloves. Or hold the chillis using clingwrap as a barrier.

Mix 4 tblsp of the sauce in with the cooked chicken and vegetables. Arrange a single tortilla at a time in a rectangular ovenproof dish, and arrange a couple of spoons of filling in the centre. Try not to add to much filling – it’s almost instinctive to want to add too much, but then the tortillas won’t be able to close properly. Close the right side of the tortilla back over the filling, and then roll towards the left side.

Once the enchilada is assembled, shift it slightly so that the overlapped edge is underneath, touching the dish. The weight of the enchilada will keep it from popping open. Repeat with the next tortilla until all your enchiladas are assembled and nicely arranged in the dish. My dish can only fit 5 enchiladas, but do as many as yours fits.

Once they are nicely arranged, spoon over the sauce. Make sure you have at least wet all the tortillas with sauce – they don’t have to be soaked, but all surfaces must have been exposed to sauce. Pry the enchiladas apart a little, so you can get some sauce in between them as well. The sauce is what will soak into the tortilla and make them so soft and squishy, so you want to make sure that happens. Then sprinkle with the grated cheddar cheese and bake for 30min. Mash the avocado with a sprinkle of lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the enchiladas drizzled with yoghurt or sour cream, with a side serving of guacamole. Chopped fresh basil or coriander also works a treat.

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