When I was younger, there was a Mexican restaurant relatively close to our house. Thinking back, they did have a pretty big menu with a lot of options. However, I always opted for the same exact dish: chicken enchiladas with ranchero sauce. With a side of rice and beans, and chips and salsa, I was quite a happy girl. Sadly, the restaurant has long since closed, and it can be a tad difficult finding a Mexican restaurant I trust being gluten free. After all this time, though, I have finally developed a recipe that replicates those enchiladas I loved so much!
Well, it more or less replicates the enchiladas. You see, sometimes I don’t feel like making a big and involved dinner. Sometimes, I want to be able to sit down and eat without standing in the kitchen for ages making sure everything is just so. This recipe allows me to do this by cheating a little bit. Instead of actually making individually rolled enchiladas, this is more like an enchilada lasagna. The chicken and sauce and cheese are layered with corn tortillas and baked until everything is piping hot and melty. While the flavors are spot on, it’s just so much easier than actually trying to make enchiladas. You can call me lazy. I’ll own up to it.
Anyway, the secret to this recipe is the homemade enchilada sauce. I’ve definitely made things like this before with canned sauce, and even my homemade salsa verde. This sauce, though, is exactly what comes to mind when I think about enchiladas. It has a slightly spicy, slightly smokey flavor. It tastes fresh and light, and really elevates the dish compared to when I use the canned stuff. And, like I said, it’s really easy; just saute for about five minutes, then throw everything in the food processor. Even on my laziest day I can manage that!
So if you’re craving tasty Mexican food, but are as lazy as I am, you need to try this enchilada casserole!
- Olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 gloves garlic, sliced
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- Dash cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried cumin
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
- 6 – 8 corn tortillas
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar jack)
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion until lightly browned, about six or seven minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Transfer onion mixture to food processor. Add tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, oregano, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Puree mixture until mostly smooth.
- Add chicken and about half of the sauce to the skillet. Heat over medium-low until the chicken is coated and the sauce has thickened a bit.
- Spray a 9” square baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon a little bit of sauce in the bottom and spread to coat. Spread corn tortillas to cover bottom of pan. Top with half of the chicken mixture, a spoonful of sauce, and a third of the cheese. Repeat with another layer, then top with remaining tortillas. Add remaining sauce and cheese to the top.
- Bake, uncovered, for 15 – 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.
Note: The sauce can be prepared in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.