|Enchilagna: noun, a cross between an enchilada and a lasagna.|
Have you ever made enchiladas and thought, wow, this would be so much easier if I didn’t have to fill all of these tortillas…? Well, problem solved! As it turns out, enchiladas work pretty well as a lasagna, with the filling, cheese, and tortillas layered in the pan. This is my contribution to society – from laziness comes ingenuity, or some such.
This is an easy dish to prep ahead of time, then layer and heat before serving. Or, layer and freeze for a later date. It can also be adapted with whatever fillings you like, and can be made with or without meat. I use a combination of chile peppers, which make for a warm, fairly mellow heat. A little spicy, but by no means hot. This can be toned down slightly by draining the dried peppers after they’ve soaked, or amped up considerably by leaving in the seeds. The choice is yours.
As many of you already know, I’ve set a goal for myself to do 30 Random Acts of Kindness in 30 Days (if you haven’t been keeping up, or if you want to know more about it, you can see my last post here). This enchilagna was my random act yesterday – it went to a good home, and should be keeping some people I know full and happy for at least a day or two. I’m calling it a Random Act of Tastiness!
I know I’ve been going on and on about this already, but doing these Random Acts of Kindness is quickly becoming my favorite part of each day. I find myself up at night thinking up new ideas, or waking up excited about what I’m going to do that day. It might seem silly, because one little act of kindness is a pretty small thing in the scheme of things… but I don’t see it that way. As small as any one thing seems, it’s those little things that make up everything else. If we live in a violent world, it’s not because the world is violent, it’s because the people in the world are violent. And if we live in a kind world, it’s not because the world is kind, it’s because people are kind. Individually. In their own little ways.
Just a thought.
Now, without further ado –
Recipe notes: The first time I made this dish I used corn tortillas, and found they got a little mushy for my taste, making it hard to distinguish the individual layers. It tasted fine, of course, but for this reason I recommend using flour tortillas, or chickpea tortillas for a gluten-free option.
To make this dish vegetarian, replace the chicken with more beans, cooked lentils, or other protein.
As the recipe is written, this dish has a fairly medium level of heat. If you’d prefer it more mild, I suggest draining the water off the dried chiles after they have soaked, and replacing with fresh tap water. If you like it hot, you can leave in some of the seeds from the hot peppers (that’s where most of the heat is) or add cayenne or hot sauce to taste.
Chicken & Black Bean Enchilagna
Makes one (3inch deep) 9×13 pan full
Can be made gluten-free and vegetarian, see recipe notes above
1 dried ancho chile, stem and seeds removed
1 dried gaujillo chile, stem and seeds removed (or you can use another ancho)
1 cup water, boiling
1 poblano pepper, stem and seeds removed, roughly chopped
2 onions, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 TBSP ground cumin
1/2 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp. kosher salt (or a 1/2 tsp. sea salt)
1 TBSP granulated sugar
1/2 TBSP dried oregano
2 14.5oz cans crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Olive oil for the pan
10-15 6″ flour tortillas (see recipe notes for gluten-free option)
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mix of monetary jack and cheddar)
1. Cut the dried chiles open and remove the stems and all of the seeds. I suggest wearing gloves for this, or washing your hands thoroughly afterwards – be careful not to touch your face or eyes while you work. These are fairly mild peppers, but the seeds have a lot of heat in them and can definitely cause some minor irritation. Once the stem and seeds are removed, place the peppers in a shallow dish with one cup of boiling hot water – set this aside and let them steep while you move on to the next step.
2. Place a very large skillet (I use my cast iron skillet) or a dutch oven over medium-high heat and add a couple TBSP olive oil. Saute the poblano pepper and 1/2 an onion for 3-4 minutes, or until a little color starts to develop, then add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
3. Add the sauteed poblano, onion, and garlic, along with the soaked chiles and all of their liquid, to the bowl of your food processor or blender. Pulse a few times to get things started, then blend until smooth. Set aside.
4. Add another TBSP of oil to your pan. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, and season thoroughly with kosher salt. Seer the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side, then remove from the pan and set aside.
5. To the hot pan, add the rest of the onions, bell pepper, carrots, and zucchini. Saute for 2-3, then add the cumin, chili powder, and kosher salt. Stir for 30 seconds, or until the spices become nice and fragrant. Add both cans of crushed tomatoes, the blended chili mixture, the granulated sugar, and the oregano – stir to combine.
6. Add the chicken back into the pan, along with any drippings, and nestle it into the sauce and veggies, covering the chicken as much as possible. Reduce the heat to low, and let simmer for 12-16 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Turn the chicken half-way through cooking.
7. Remove the chicken from the pan and shred it with two forks. Return it to the pot along with the drained and rinsed black beans, and freshly chopped cilantro. Stir, and adjust seasoning to taste.
(Note: if you’d like, you can make this ahead of time, then layer and baker when you’re ready to eat. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a few days).
8. Preheat oven to 400f.
9. Spread a thin layer of the chicken/veggies/sauce in the bottom of a deep 9×13 pan. Place some tortillas on top of this, overlapping as little as possible (you may need to tear them in half to fill edge spaces). Spread on another thin layer of sauce, top with about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of the cheese, and then another layer of tortillas. Repeat. Finish with a layer of sauce, then top with the remaining cheese.
10. Place on the center rack of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the enchilagna is hot all the way through. (Note: if you made the filling ahead of time and it’s going into the oven cold, increase the baking time to 25-35 minutes, or until heated all the way through). Turn on the broiler and bake for another 2-3 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and golden brown. Serve!
To see a round-up of my 30 Random Acts of Kindness, click here: 30 Random Acts of Kindness in 30 Days (and then some!)