The Cheap-Ass Gourmet – Homemade Chicken and Red Mole Enchiladas With Roasted Cauliflower

This is the second part of a three-part series of economic meals that all stem from the first recipe, simple roast chicken with braised greens and roasted potatoes.  Tomorrow we’ll take the leftover chicken carcass and use it to make a Thai coconut & lemongrass soup.  These recipes are especially good for those on a budget that love tasty food but find the thought of cooking intimidating.

In this recipe, you’ll take the meat from last night’s roasted chicken and use it to create enchiladas with homemade red mole.  If you have left over greens, you can add them to the chicken filling – they are a great (and healthy) addition.  If you did not make a roast chicken bust still want to try this recipe, buy two chicken breasts, salt and pepper them, and put them into the oven at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.  Let them cool enough so that you can shred them without burning your fingers, and then treat the shredded pieces as you would the leftover chicken in this recipe.

You can certainly save yourself a step and buy a can of store-bought enchilada sauce, but even if you’re new to the kitchen I’d recommend you try this recipe.  It is very easy, takes about 15 minutes, and is far more earthy and flavorful than store bought sauce.

As you will see, there is the option of adding cheese in this recipe but I never bother for myself. (Though I should note my kids do demand it.)  If you decide to use cheese, I recommend cheddar.  More traditional Mexican cheeses, such as queso fresco or queso blanco, are mild enough that they can be overpowered by the mole.

If you tried the recipe from yesterday, you will notice that the method you use to prepare the cauliflower is exactly the same you used for the potatoes.

Recipe(s) after the jump.


Leftover Chicken Meat from Roasted Chicken, Shredded by Hand (No Additional Cost)

1 Canned Chipotle Chile Pepper, seeded, with about 1 teaspoon of the sauce from the can (or more if you like heat) ($0.25)

1 Garlic Clove ($0.05)

1 Teaspoon Cumin ($0.03)

1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes  ($1.75)

1 14 oz. Can Chicken Broth ($2.50)

8 Corn Tortillas ($2.00)

1 Head of Cauliflower ($2.25)

1 Tablespoon Staple Olive Oil ($0.02)

¼ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes ($0.02)

Salt & Pepper to Taste

Optional: Spinach, zucchini, small amount of grated cheddar cheese; chopped green onions for garnish

Total time from start to finish: Somewhere between a half an hour to an hour, depending on whether you have one oven or two.

Amount of time you’re actually doing stuff aside from drinking wine: About 20-25 minutes total.

Serves: 4

Cost per Each Dinner:  – $2.20 – $3.00, depending upon what optional ingredients you do or don’t use

If your kitchen only has one oven, you’ll want to do the cauliflower first.

The Cauliflower

  1. Preheat oven to 450. (If using two ovens, also preheat second to 350 for the enchiladas.)
  2. Roughly chop the head of cauliflower.
  3. Drizzle about ½ a tablespoon of olive oil into a roasting pan, and add the red pepper flakes with a bit of salt and pepper.
  4. Using a spatula, lightly toss the cauliflower so that they it is all covered in the salt, pepper, pepper flakes and olive oil.
  5. Put the pan in the oven.  Take it out every 5-10 minutes and toss with the spatula, until the cauliflower is starting to brown and is just crispy on the outside.  (Usually about 15-20 minutes in total.)  Remove.
  6. If you are using one oven, put them aside until the enchiladas are almost done.
  7. If using oven, reduce oven heat to 300 degrees (You don’t really need to wait for oven to get that cool, btw.  You just need it cooler than 450 for the enchiladas.)

The Red Mole

  1. Heat a large pan in the stove over medium high heat
  2. Seed the chipotle pepper.  The best way to do this, I have found, is to turn your kitchen faucet on and then lightly tear the pepper open in the stream of water, washing away the bitter seeds.
  3. Put the seeded pepper in a blender.  Add chipotle sauce from can, canned tomatoes, cumin and crushed garlic clove.  Blend for about 2 minutes on high, until you have a consistent red liquid.
  4. Coat bottom of pan with the remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil, then pour blended mixture into the pan.
  5. Stir constantly for about five minutes, until enough liquid has evaporated that the sauce is becoming thick.  (Warning to the anal retentive and neat freaks: If you stop stirring for too long, the thickening mixture will bubble and spit sauce all over your nice, clean stove.)
  6. Stir in can of chicken broth, reduce heat to the lowest setting, and let sit for five minutes.

The Enchiladas

  1. Put shredded chicken in a bowl.  If you want, add in leftover greens, spinach, and chopped up zucchini.  Mix with about one third of the sauce.
  2. Feel your tortillas, and make sure they are pliant.  If not, put on a microwave safe plate, and cover with damp paper towel.  Microwave for about 30 second; this should make them able to bend without breaking.
  3. Put about 1/8 of the chicken mixture on a tortilla, then roll into a cylinder and put in a oven-safe pan or Pyrex dish.  Do the same with the remaining tortillas and filling.
  4. Drizzle remaining sauce over the enchiladas.  If you want to use grated cheese, sprinkle that on top.
  5. Place in oven, heat for 10-15 minutes.  If you are using one oven, put the cauliflower in with the enchiladas when there is about five minutes left to go, to reheat them.
  6. Remove.

And we’re done!  Divide up the enchiladas, serve up the cauliflower, and enjoy.

UPDATE: If you are cooking for just one or two, you can put the leftover chicken filling in the fridge as well as the leftover sauce.  In a day or two, just assemble a couple more enchiladas (it takes less than a minute) and cook for 10-15 at 350.  Almost as easy and within 10 minutes of being as fast as a microwave frozen dinner, but infinitely better.

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

5 Responses

  1. LauraNo says:

    It should be noted that by ‘corn tortillas’ the hard kind are not meant. I live in Canada these days, outside Toronto, and I can only, and only recently, get the soft corn ones at one store, sometimes. I am concerned same could be true for others, and they wouldn’t know there are soft corn tortillas in the world.

  2. Tom Van Dyke says:

    After kibbitzing on your first installment, Tod, moi can now only sit back in awe.

    Feel your tortillas, and make sure they are pliant.

    Words to live by.

  3. Kazzy says:

    I get my soft corn tortillas at the Mexican grocer. There are probably 30-40 in a pack for $1.25. We rarely get through the whole pack since they’re a Mexican import and are made without preservatives… just corna masa, water, and salt. They’re the bee’s knees… perfect for tacos. They might be small for an enchilada, depending on how big you’re making them. They also are great for homemade tortilla chips. Slice them into sixths, drop them in the fryer for a few seconds, and salt. They’ll continue cooking after you remove them so be sure to take them out BEFORE they look done. MMMM! A perfect side to a meal like this.

  4. Genotypical says:

    If you have to go somewhere special to find good corn tortillas, you can buy a bunch and freeze them, they dry out a little bit in the freezer but not much. Also, you can make lower-cal homemade tortilla chips by baking them. Cut in sixths as per Kazzy, then spread out on a cookie sheet lightly coated with vegetable spray, spray the tops lightly and sprinkle with salt and your choice of garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, etc. Bake in 400 degree oven for 5-10 mins until they just begin to brown (watch like a hawk!), pull out and let oven cool to warm, then slide chips back in to finish crisping.

  5. Larry Sombke says:

    This is would taste a lot better if you used Larry’s all-natural Southwestern Chipotle Sauce.
    I know. I’m Larry.