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Chicken Enchiladas With Pimento Cheese Sauce

This image courtesy of Jennifer Davick

Pimento Cheese really does have a million uses. The creamy, cheesy flavors create an interesting twist on classic chicken enchiladas with just a hint of Southwestern flavors.

Serves6

Cooking Methodbaking, sauteeing

CostModerate

Easy

Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturecheesy, creamy, savory

Type of Dishcasserole

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • One 4-ounce jar sliced pimentos, rinsed and drained
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • One 2-ounce jar diced pimentos, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Kosher salt, as needed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a small baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. PREPARE THE FILLING: In a small bowl, mix together the salt, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Place the chicken breasts in the baking dish and sprinkle both sides generously with the seasoning mix.

  3. Bake the chicken in the oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the chicken breasts to a plate to cool.

  4. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat into small strands using your hands or two forks. Drizzle the oil in a skillet large enough to hold the chicken meat. Add the onion and sauté until it is soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the sliced pimentos and the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the chicken broth and the heavy cream and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid has reduced to a creamy sauce that will lightly coat the meat, 10 to 12 minutes. Remember, this is to fill tortillas, so if the sauce is too wet it will leak out. Add the shredded chicken and stir to coat evenly with the sauce.

  5. ASSEMBLE THE ENCHILADAS: When the creamy filling is cool enough to handle, grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Wrap the tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave for 30 to 45 seconds to soften them. Fill a tortilla with chicken filling, sprinkle over a little cheddar cheese (using about 1/2 cup total for all the tortillas), roll it up and place the tortillas, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. I find it easiest to place just enough filling in each tortilla so it will roll into a compact package, then go back and stuff more filling in the ends when they are snugly in the baking dish. Repeat with all the remaining tortillas, chicken, and cheese. You can rewrap the tortillas in damp towels and microwave again if they begin to get stiff. Set the enchiladas aside.

  6. MAKE THE PIMENTO CHEESE SAUCE: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until smooth. Pour in the chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Cook the sauce for 5 minutes, or until it has thickened and is smooth and creamy.

  7. Stir in the diced pimentos, then stir in the sour cream and cook until it is heated through. Add 1 1/2 cups of the grated cheese, a handful at a time, and whisk to melt each addition before adding the next. Taste and add salt if needed.

  8. Pour the pimento cheese sauce over the enchiladas, spreading it out into an even layer. Make sure you completely cover the tortillas. You can sprinkle some of the remaining cheese over the top if you'd like. At this point, you can cool the enchiladas, cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerate for several hours.

  9. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F Bake the enchiladas, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and everything is heated through. Serve immediately.

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