If you're a fan of the Tinga Tostadas from a few weeks ago then you can easily use that Tinga flavor to make a wicked batch of enchiladas.
I used chicken for this batch but feel free to get creative with the protein choice as it's the Tinga sauce that's the star attraction here.
You've also got choices on how you put your enchiladas together. Hungry stomachs will sometimes make all the decisions for you, but it's good to keep the other options in mind for days when you have time to experiment.
A traditional batch of enchiladas will give the tortillas a quick fry before rolling them up, then baking them for a few minutes and adding the sauce at the end.
Frying the tortillas gives them a tasty bump in flavor and creates a barrier that prevents them from absorbing too much sauce and getting mushy. It also makes them more pliable and easier to roll up.
That's your first option and that's how we're making them today.
Option #2 skips the tortilla frying. You can just warm up the tortillas in the oven, roll up the enchiladas, drench them in sauce and give 'em a few minutes in the oven.
This Express version can be just as tasty, but sometimes the tortillas will absorb so much sauce that they get mushy. This seems to happen more often with cheaper, store-bought tortillas.
So which method is better? Or more accurately, how hungry are you?
I use both methods and recommend an occasional experiment to find out which one fits your palate best. Check out this Ancho Enchiladas recipe to see a tasty example of Option #2.
But we're going old school today and that means giving the tortillas a quick fry in a thin layer of oil.
You don't need much oil, maybe 1/4" or so, and once it's up to frying temp (usually just over medium setting on my stove) then give the tortillas about 5-10 seconds per side in the hot oil, or until they are just starting to crisp up. Tongs work well here as it's better to be far away from the sizzling hot oil.
Once fried you can set the tortillas aside to drain on some paper towels.
I also brined the chicken breast for this batch, but that's definitely optional -- you can cook the chicken however you see fit as the Tinga flava trumps everything.
Brining gives the chicken a welcome bump in flavor, but it does add another half hour to the recipe. Simply dissolve 1/4 cup Kosher or sea salt in a quart of water, add the chicken breast, and brine in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
Note that a single chicken breast is usually enough for 7-8 enchiladas, or two hungry peeps.
Since we are roasting the tomatoes and tomatillos for the Tinga sauce, I went ahead and baked the chicken breast along with the veggies. Everything on this baking sheet needs about 20 minutes in the oven. New to tomatillos? Read this.
I'll put full details for the Tinga sauce in the recipe box down below, but basically you are just adding the roasted tomatoes and tomatillos to a blender along with an onion-garlic mixture and some chipotles in adobo.
Combine well and then simmer over medium heat, adding the following ingredients:
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
pinch of cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup stock (optional)
The stock will thin out the sauce and add an additional layer of flavor for the enchiladas, but you can consider it optional. I used this homemade chicken stock.
Be sure to give the Tinga sauce a final taste for seasoning. You can always add more adobo sauce if you want more heat. More info on working with chipotles in adobo.
And now we're going to set most of the Tinga sauce aside in a bowl, but retain about 1/2 cup worth to combine with the shredded chicken.
Grab one of your (fried) tortillas and fill with:
the chicken mixture
plenty of cheese -- I used Jack
some finely diced raw onion
some awesome Pickled Serranos (optional)
Roll tight and place seam side down in a baking dish. If you're not frying the tortillas you can add a thin layer of Tinga sauce to the baking dish to prevent sticking.
Continue until you've used up all the chicken mixture -- that was 8 enchiladas for this batch.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted.
It will be tempting to drench them in the Tinga sauce before baking them, but when frying the tortillas I usually wait until after the bake -- this lets the enchiladas get slightly crispy in the oven.
Once baked, goop on the Tinga sauce and serve immediately.
You can garnish with your choice of Crema, Cotija cheese or Queso Fresco, and freshly chopped cilantro.
You should have plenty of Tinga sauce so feel free to slather it on each serving.
It's such an easy way to make some quick enchiladas as the Tinga sauce is exploding with flavor and that will give you lots of flexibility on the innards and cooking style.
Okay, keep the two options in mind the next time you're craving enchiladas:
Option #1 fries the tortillas and adds the sauce at the end. Frying the tortillas gives you a bump in flavor and prevents the tortillas from absorbing too much sauce.
Option #2 skips the frying and simply warms up the tortillas in the oven (or microwave) before rolling them. I usually add the sauce for the bake when using this option.
Of course, a lot of it will depend on how much time you have (and your mood!) but both are good options to have in your arsenal.
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Chicken Tinga Enchiladas
- 7-8 corn tortillas
- 1 chicken breast
- 1 cup cheese (I used Jack)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- Pickled Serranos (optional)
- Queso Fresco (optional)
- Crema (optional)
- freshly chopped cilantro (optional)
For the Tinga Sauce;
- 2 plum tomatoes
- 4-5 tomatillos
- 1/2 onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 chipotles in adobo
- 1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- pinch of cumin (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- freshly cracked black pepper
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup stock (optional)
- You can cook the chicken any way you want, or even use rotisserie chicken, but for this batch I brined and baked it. To brine the chicken, add 1/4 cup Kosher or sea salt to a quart of water in a mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve the salt and add the chicken breast, letting it brine in the fridge for 30 minutes or so. If the chicken isn't fully submerged then add a bit more water. Once brined, pat dry the chicken breast and add it to a baking sheet.
- Rinse and de-stem the tomatoes and tomatillos. Add them to the same baking sheet and bake everything at 400F for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink inside (160F).
- Once the chicken has cooled you can shred it with two forks and set aside until you need it.
- Meanwhile, roughly chop a half onion and saute in some oil over medium heat. Add four whole peeled garlic cloves and saute until the onion is starting to brown.
- Add the onion-garlic mixture to a blender along with 3 chipotles in adobo and the roasted tomatoes and tomatillos. I usually scrape out the seeds of the chipotles. Combine well and take a taste, adding more chipotles if you want more heat.
- Add the Tinga mixture back to the same pan you used to cook the onion. Add 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano, a pinch of cumin (optional), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, freshly cracked black pepper, 1/2 cup stock (optional), and 1-2 tablespoons of adobo sauce (optional). Bring to a simmer and take a final taste for seasoning.
- Keep 1/2 cup of the Tinga sauce in the pan and set the rest aside for later. Add the shredded chicken to the 1/2 cup of Tinga sauce and combine well.
- If you are frying the tortillas, add enough oil to a skillet or saucepan to create 1/4" layer of oil. Bring it up to frying temp (approx. 360F and just over medium setting on my stove) and use tongs to give the tortillas about 5-10 seconds per side in the oil, or until they are just starting to crisp up. Set aside on some paper towels to drain. Always use caution when frying in hot oil -- I find it easiest to do them one at a time and use some longer tongs.
- Add a single tortilla to a plate and fill with a couple tablespoons of the Chicken Tinga, plenty of cheese, a sprinkling of chopped onion, and any pickled goods you are using. Roll tight and place seam side down in a baking dish. Continue until you run out of chicken -- this single breast was enough for 8 enchiladas.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 400F oven or until the cheese is completely melted. Remove from oven and drench the enchiladas with the Tinga sauce.
- Serve immediately and top with your choice of Crema, Cotija cheese or Queso Fresco, and freshly chopped cilantro.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge where they will keep for a few days.
Our latest recipe is a batch of these delicious Calabacitas.
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Made this today and really, really liked that sauce. sweet, spicy sour and tangy. WOW!.
I think next time I will try adding some chocolate to it and give it another dimension. Thanks for sharing. Now I am going to look at some of your other recipes.
Ahh good to hear, so glad you like the Tinga sauce as much as I do 🙂 Cheers.
Truly delicious recipe, we doubled the recipe and it made 14 enchiladas, baked a large 13x9 glass pan. Had leftover chicken tinga and we made 2 - 6" quesadilla for another dinner. Cannot wait to make it again.
Ahh awesome thanks for letting me know Michele! Tinga leftovers are a real treat 🙂
Llove your recipes and frying tortilla is how my Mom makes them the only difference is that she first dips the tortilla in the sauce and then fries them which makes for a delicious enchilada but a very messy stove. I am going to give this a try.
Hey thanks much for your note Emmie, that method is new to me. Cheers.
Just made this for my wife and I, possible the best mexican dish we have ever had, and we have been fortunate to travel alot...... we will definitely share with friends and family
Thanks Gerry, glad to hear that Tinga will now be a regular part of your kitchen 🙂
These are the best enchiladas I've ever had! Restaurant or homemade. At first I thought it would be time consuming, but making the recipe was pretty easy. Thanks! Highly recommend
Thanks much Andrea! I make Tinga all the time and it never gets old 🙂 Cheers.
Hi. Could I make these ahead? I want them for lunch tomorrow (Sunday) but we have church and typically don't get home until after 12. I was thinking I could put the enchis together and do a quick heat when I get home and then pour the heated sauce over? Any reason that wouldn't work?
Hi Eva! Yeah the flavor should be there if you do this, but they could get a little messy as the tortillas might dry out and crack open. I would probably cook the chicken and make the sauce beforehand, and then build them right before chowtime. Cheers.
I used green tomatoes ripening on the kitchen counter (not that tasty, really), too-small, unripe tomatillos (our season is too short for growing these but dang it, I keep trying), and believe it or not a product called Soy Curls, a dried soy product that when hydrated can taste a lot like chicken. Or beef. I had none of the optional ingredients, only sharp cheddar and in spite of all this these were outstanding!! I only share this because I thought it was funny and also indicative of how great a recipe this is. Thank you for sharing all your great, authentic recipes.
Ha awesome thanks much for sharing this Christina, good to know it still worked out! And kudos for plowing ahead and improvising based on what you have in the kitchen. Cheers.
As usual, wonderful recipe. I used a Costco roasted chicken for my protein. I may have to unsubscribe from your website. It’s starting to make me feel I have to cook instead of doing my manly duties. (NOT). You are amazing.
Ha ha thanks Bill, so glad you enjoyed this recipe 🙂