Chicken enchiladas

The enchilada is a Mexican classic – warmed tortillas wrapped around a tasty filling then topped with a spicy chilli sauce and baked. It’s a good one for children too, with a less spicy version of the sauce, and you can make it gluten-free with corn rather than flour tortillas. Once you have made the enchilada sauce and cooked the chicken, it’s quick and easy to assemble, or you can keep them in the fridge to use over the next couple of days.

Ingredients

Enchiladas

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small brown onion, peeled and diced

680g skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2cm pieces

2 green chillies, diced

salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups mozzarella, grated

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

8 flour tortillas

500ml enchilada sauce (see below)

1 x 400g can black beans or lentils, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped

1 avocado, peeled and diced

For sauce

450g ripe tomatoes, cored

1 garlic clove, skin on

1 brown onion, roughly diced

1 jalapeno chilli, or to taste

3/4 tsp sea salt

Makes 2 cups

Method

For sauce

Place the tomatoes, garlic, onion and chilli in a medium roasting pan. Char them under a hot grill for about nine to 10 minutes, turning them halfway through as the pieces brown. The tomato skins should be charred and wrinkled, and the juices beginning to run. The chilli and onions should be softened and nicely charred; the papery husk of the garlic should be burned and the clove softened inside.

Peel the garlic clove and add it to a blender with the tomatoes, onion, chilli and salt. Puree until smooth and set aside.

Makes about two cups (Tip: The enchilada sauce will last for up to three weeks in the fridge; it also works well with salmon or other firm-fleshed fish.)

For enchiladas

Preheat oven to 180C. In a large pan, heat the oil over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and fry for three minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the diced chicken and green chillies and season. Fry for six to eight minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix the cheeses together.

To assemble the enchiladas, set up an assembly line with tortillas, sauce, beans, chicken mixture and cheeses. Lay out a tortilla and spread it with two tablespoons of sauce. Add beans in a line down the middle, add a spoonful of chicken mixture, then sprinkle with a quarter cup of cheese. Roll up the tortilla and place in a greased 30×25-cm baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Spread the remaining enchilada sauce on top and sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes then serve immediately, garnished with coriander and avocado.

TIPS

The chicken filling is only a suggestion. I also used fish, lamb fillet or even roasted duck legs – I remove the meat and chop it roughly before mixing it through the sauce.

When making the sauce, the aim is to char the vegetables a little as it adds a great flavour, but don’t burn them too much. This vibrant sauce can be used on roast snapper or as an accompaniment to barbecued meats.