There was a very popular television ad for Pace Picante Sauce that aired when I used to live in my native Texas. It was one of those chuck wagon scenes, where a bunch of cowboys were sitting around the fire before one called out to the cook for more chips and salsa.
The cook obliged, but the cowboys weren’t happy because the salsa he delivered just didn’t taste right. Well, somebody started reading the fine print on the jar, and exclaimed, “This stuff was made in (pregnant pause) NEW JERSEY!” Another cowboy called for a rope, and said about the cook, “String him up!”
We Texans do indeed take our Mexican food (aka Tex-Mex) pretty seriously, and that’s why I’m pleased to report that things are looking up in New Jersey, my place of exile for almost 20 years now.
Yes, I know I’ve written about it before, but when I found a very decent small-batch molé sauce offered in a Mexican market in my home county, I just had to mention it. If you don’t even have a clue what molé sauce is, well shame on you. This Wikipedia article gives a nice overview.
Not a lot of people in my neck of the woods know how to make chicken molé enchiladas, and I’m not going to get all technical by making my own sauce or making my own corn tortillas from scratch. Fact is, I never got the knack for making tortillas despite having all the right equipment. My sister can do it, and one of these days I’ll get her to teach me the technique that I lack. As an aside, if you haven’t seen her blog, I urge you to do so. It’s nowhere near as good as Roamin’ Gnomials because it doesn’t have any gnomes, but if you like to cook, please check it out.
The thing is, however, you can now make pretty decent enchiladas in New Jersey in a very reasonable amount of time using products that you can finally find for sale here, even though you might still have to search a little harder than should be necessary.
Here’s my recipe:
Roamin’ Gnomials Quick and Dirty
Chicken Molé Enchiladas
1 container molé sauce (available in most Mexican markets)
1 skinless boneless chicken breast
1 package of corn tortillas (if you don’t know the difference between flour and corn tortillas, please learn!)
1 can of cooking spray
Cheddar cheese for grating
Stew the chicken breast in salted water until done. Let cool, then shred with a fork. Don’t throw out the water that you used to stew the chicken!
Put the molé into a saucepan on low heat. Gradually add ladles of chicken broth to the molé and whisk until it thins to a consistency that will just nap a spoon.
Next, spray both sides of 4-5 corn tortillas with the cooking spray, and place under a broiler for about 60-90 seconds to soften them. A toaster oven works fine for this. Add shredded chicken to the tortilla and roll them up, just like you were rolling a big old joint, but don’t twist the ends. Place the rolled enchiladas into a shallow baking dish, then repeat the process with more tortillas until you have as many as you want.
Top the enchiladas with the thinned molé sauce, then top with grated cheese and bake in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until all the cheese is nice and melty.
Of course the time-consuming part is stewing the chicken, but if you do this ahead of time, you can quickly make a couple of enchiladas for lunch in just a little more time than it takes to make a decent sandwich. Looking back over this, hellfire, maybe you won’t be able to pull it off if you’ve never done it before, but the thing is, you lose nothing by getting in there and giving it a try, and practice makes perfect!
True, even if you succeed the first time, you still won’t be in the Great State, but if you’re stuck in New Jersey, there’s a good chance that with a couple of chicken molé enchiladas on your plate, you’ll be a lot happier than you were before!