Recipe Reviews: Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken and Melted Cheese Review


3 stars (3.5 stars taste; 3 stars ingredient balance) (on a 5 star scale)
p. 222-224

Disappointing. Decent but not particularly good. The chicken, since it's only tossed with the sauce, has no flavor of its own. There isn't nearly enough sauce to lend as much flavor to the enchiladas as I desire. I tried it with and without cheese and with and without sliced onions. Cheese definitely is important. Even the onion, intended to be "only" a garnish, adds something. Cilantro probably would have too, as the recipe suggested, though I didn't have any at hand. With these items contributing flavor, it's even more noticeable that the chicken only adds mass, not taste. If only it had been marinated or cooked in something...

Making the sauce was trouble. Simmering until it is the consistency of tomato paste is a mess because when bubbles break in a liquid that thick, they spray out of sauce pan. Also, simmering down to this stage took substantially longer (ten minutes longer?) than the recipe claims. Then one is supposed to add two cups of chicken broth. I only added one because that already made it more liquidy than enchilada sauce should be (in my opinion). Finally, when the recipe says to add salt to taste and estimates one and a half teaspoons, I found no salt was necessary. (Glad I tasted it first!)

Furthermore, the amount of sauce and chicken this recipe uses are entirely inappropriate. The half a pound of chicken made about seven corn tortillas, not the dozen the recipe claims. Also, the chicken needed more sauce than the recipe says, and the enchiladas needed lots more sauce than suggested. I used the sauce conservatively but it still only lasted about nine tortillas. Even if there were an extra cup of liquid in the sauce and even without a good amount of chicken (more chicken requires more sauce), I don't think the sauce could've lasted to the dozen tortillas the recipe claims.

After cooking more chicken in an attempt to use up my dozen tortillas and quickly running out of sauce, I tried substituting (bottled) taco sauce. This did not work. The taco sauce clashed with the enchilada sauce where they touched and in general the taco sauce didn't work well with the chicken. (I imagine it works much better with stir fried meats, not boiled ones.)

This recipe did teach me one good transferable skill: knowledge of how to make shredded chicken without a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken available: simply gently simmer a chicken breast for a few minutes (three to eight depending on thickness), then shred with a fork. Easy as pie.

I definitely prefer AllRecipes.com's Chicken Enchiladas recipe.

8 Comments:

  • you simmered the chicken? lol. no wonder the chicken tastes like cardboard. :) did you at least season the water you simmered the chicken in? with salt at least I hope.

    otherwise all the flavor is in the water and not the chicken. :-D

    next time just pan fry some chicken breasts from costco. wait until it cools then shread them with a fork.

    thanks for reviewing the book though. I was just looking at this recipe too. I was a little skeptical about it too. the "sauce" is just roasted tomatoes I do believe.

    By Blogger Applehazelnut, at 11:59 AM  

  • When I did this - the sauce turned out really really bitter. The first flavor was really good, best enchilada sauce I've had in long time, but then the bitter hit. It did fade after a bit, but lingered. Not sure what would have caused the bitter. A

    also, I defnitely made sure to use Cilantro and it probably made a big difference. I had plenty of sauce when I was done (used both cans of chicken broth) and even made 14 enchiladas.

    By Blogger rbyers, at 12:23 PM  

  • I think you all are working too hard. Las Palmas canned enchilada sauce is what I grew up eating and I have tried others but nothing else comes close. There used to be a enchlada recipe right on the can, but I just used my Mom's recipe.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:51 PM  

  • When you poach chicken for Mexican recipes, put at least 1/4 onion in the water. I also add a bay leaf and a jalapeno pepper. This will give you chix flavor.

    By Blogger Lois, at 5:30 AM  

  • I haven't read this recipe... but I do know that bitter sauce often comes from mixing different types of chilis in one sauce. Some kinds work together beautifully, but the chilis are a little picky and the wrong mixture comes out delicious... but with a horrid aftertaste.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:52 PM  

  • I've made these before, maybe youre problem is you suck at cooking because mine look way beetter then yours and they taste great. I don't have problems with any of it. I think the problem is you not the cookbook.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:31 AM  

  • I roasted my chicken breasts in the oven with a garlic & steak seasoning rub. It turned out fantastically. I then shredded it to put inside the corn tortillas. This adds plenty of flavor.
    I had the same problem reducing the consistency of the sauce. It took me about 30 mins of simmering before it hit the consistency of tomato paste. I went ahead and added the 2 cups of broth though and it ended up working out just fine. I enjoyed tasting it along the way since it was very tomato-ey to begin with (which worried me) but then it transformed into a sweeter, spicier flavor which was a hit at my house.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:47 AM  

  • There is nothing wrong with the recipe itself. The problem you encountered with this recipe was your ability to follow simple directions, thus rendering a failed dish. I can see from looking at your first picture and last picture of your finished dish that you have poor presentation skills and are in desperate need of basic cooking knowledge. If you had followed the 2 cups chicken broth that the recipe called for you would have had enough sauce. Also, you stuffed each enchilada with twice as much chicken,thereby creating sausage shaped enchiladas and running out of chicken. Your dish is presented out of balance,way too many enchiladas on one side and not enough on the other side. These are elementary issues at the very least.Last, cooking a WHOLE cut chicken in seasoned water ie., salt,onion, bay leaf would have dramatic taste results vs the least flavorful cut from the breast cooked in non salted water. There are two options for you to improve your anemic lack of culinary understanding: one is to get to a basic cooking skills education ASAP the other is to quite while you still have taste buds(or lack of?)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:05 PM  

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