Green Chile Enchilada Chicken

by Emily Kemme

I love chicken enchiladas as a concept food. The gooey cheese, that creamy sauce studded with spicy green chiles, the tender and juicy chicken, it all enchants me, but the problem is, I’m lazy. There are days when I’m not up for shredding and stuffing and rolling ingredients into corn tortillas. On a quiet weekend night, sure, then I don’t have a problem with the time it takes to prepare chicken enchiladas, but during a busy week, it isn’t going to happen. On those sorts of nights, I’m simply thrilled if I get dinner cooked by a somewhat reasonable hour.

That’s why I started a futile search for a recipe that would have all the cheesy, creamy, chilied flavors I love, without having to roll them into a tight bundle. I searched in vain, and came up with this one. Let’s just say that this recipe is the relaxed version of chicken enchiladas.

Green Chile Enchilada Chicken Recipe

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 8 oz each, rinsed and patted dry

2 T grapeseed oil

1  4 oz package pancetta cubetti (or 4 oz thick cut pancetta, diced into 1/4 inch cubes)

Note: find pancetta cubetti packaged in the deli section of your grocery store alongside other packaged, cured meats. Similar to bacon, it comes from pork belly, and must be cooked. Pancetta typically has pepper, and sometimes other spices added.

1 yellow onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced, about 1 T

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp Mexican oregano

Note: find Mexican oregano in larger grocery stores in the Mexican foods section, or at Penzeys.  This fragrant version of the verbena family has a citrusy, almost bitter aroma, and isn’t related to Mediterranean oregano, the sort typically found in European dishes. Less sweet, and hardier, it can handle the green chile spices in a Mexican dish with ease.

1  28 oz can Hatch green chile enchilada sauce

1  28 oz can diced tomatoes

1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Mexican style cheese

shredded lettuce

one ripe avocado, sliced

Heat oven to 350°F.

In large, oven-proof skillet with lid, warm oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown chicken breasts on both sides, about 8-10 minutes. Remove chicken to clean plate.

Add pancetta to skillet and cook until fat is rendered and pancetta begins to brown, about 2-3 minutes.

Add onions and garlic to skillet. If skillet is dry, add oil. Pancetta won’t render as much fat as bacon, so you may need to add oil. Lower heat to medium and sauté until onions are golden, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle spices over onion mixture, stirring constantly for one minute.

Green Chile Enchilada Chicken

Buying pre-diced pancetta is a find, in my book. I’m all about timesavers, as long as you aren’t sacrificing quality. Diced pancetta intensifies the sauce in the way that only good cured meats can.

Add tomatoes to skillet and deglaze pan, loosening browned bits.

Add green chile enchilada sauce and stir to incorporate tomatoes and onion mixture. Return chicken and any juices that have accumulated on the plate to skillet. Nestle chicken in sauce, cover, and using oven mitts, place covered skillet in oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and chicken is tender.

Remove lid and sprinkle cheese over chicken in amounts you prefer. Continue baking for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serve Green Chile Enchilada Chicken in warmed, shallow bowls alongside rice or Creamy polenta. Or if you’re into Paleo, go naked. Garnish with shredded lettuce and avocado slices.

Serves 4.

Green Chile Enchilada Chicken

Creamy enchilada sauce, gooey cheese, tender chicken, layers of flavor. What’s not to love about Green Chile Enchilada Chicken?

 

Saint Roch Les Vignes roseStephanie Davis, our go-to girl who happens to be a Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator with Winacea, says she usually thinks of zippy white wines with herbal tones for green chili chicken enchiladas, especially the ones she grew up with in Arizona. However, the pancetta in this recipe adds another dimension. She told me she digs it! Her suggestion is a refreshing, young rosé from Côtes de Provence, like this bottle she just found on sale for $12, Saint Roch les Vignes. She not only loves the wine, but the label is cool, too — visually beautiful with texture. We always hope beauty is more than skin deep, but hey, celebrate when you find it both inside and outside! Stephanie thinks this is a classy, inexpensive bottle to bring to a house party.

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Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, because living brings its own humor, angst and heroism. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished,  https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @EmFeedsYou where she hopes you’ll find illumination of the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Vodka and recipes optional.

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