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Sweet Potato & Chicken Enchiladas

March 7, 2010

Sweet Potato & Chicken Enchiladas

We have had quite the weekend! Our friends Megan and Jordan came to stay with us (from Maine and Minnesota, respectively) and we had a lot of fun hanging out, going out to eat, and just generally enjoying the company. At some point yesterday afternoon, however, I sat down and worked on my menu for the week. I knew I wanted to do *something* involved tonight, since we’d be alone and we would have some time to get it just right.

This recipe caught my eye a few weeks ago, and when I was reviewing my list I knew I had to give it a shot. It represents a few firsts for me. I’d never before worked with Ancho (dried Poblano) or New Mexico (dried Anaheim) chiles, and I’d never made a chile sauce in the blender before. On top of that, the sweet potato, onion, and garlic filling blended very nicely with the softly poached chicken, and the entire thing came together so well with the sauce, tortillas, and cheese. I am very proud of how this turned out! I would also like to thank my beautiful wife for helping me put everything together.

A few things to consider: This is a *very* smoky-tasting dish. If you’re not a big fan of the smoky chile flavor, feel free to mix in some fresh chiles instead of dried (for example, freshly-roasted Poblanos instead of the Ancho), or to cut the mixture with some diced tomatoes. Also, don’t feel the need to be locked into boneless chicken breasts or pepper-jack cheese. The sky is the limit, and the real stars here are the sweet potatoes and the chile sauce.

Sweet Potato & Chicken Enchiladas (Serves 4)

Adapted from Serious Eats

  • 3 dried Ancho chiles, whole, stem and seeds removed
  • 3 dried New Mexico chiles, whole, stem and seeds removed
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced thinly
  • 6-7 cloves garlic, 3 sliced in half, rest minced
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly
  • cilantro (for garnish)
  • kosher salt
  • sour cream or fat-free plain greek yogurt (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. When pan is scorching hot, add the chiles (dry) and toast for a few minutes on each side until just fragrant. Set aside.
  3. Boil the water in a medium pot, add the chiles, half of the onion, and the sliced garlic. Cover the pot partially, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. While the chiles are simmering, put the large pan on medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Add the rest of the onion and sweet potato and cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are very soft. Add the minced garlic, stir for 30 seconds, and then remove pan from heat and put mixture into a bowl so the garlic doesn’t burn.
  5. When the chiles are done, transfer them, the onions and garlic, and 1/2 cup of the liquid into a blender or food processor and puree completely. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into another bowl, pushing the mixture through with a wooden spoon. Add the cider vinegar and a few healthy pinches of salt to the mixture, stir to combine, and set aside.
  6. Place the same pot (with the remaining liquid) over medium-low heat and add the chicken. Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through, until just short of fully cooked. Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Once it cools for a few minutes, shred it completely with two forks, and combine it with the sweet potato and onion mixture. Add a few pinches of salt to this mixture, and set aside.
  7. Grease a baking dish. Prepare the corn tortillas by either microwaving them with moistened paper towels or frying them in a light amount of oil, one-by-one. Working with the hot tortillas, fill each with an even mixture of the chicken and sweet potatoes and roll tightly. Line up tortillas in baking sheet tightly, seam-side down. Pour chile sauce over entire pan of enchiladas, then cover with the shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, removing foil for last 2 minutes.
  8. Top hot enchiladas with the scallions and cilantro, and serve with the sour cream or yogurt, or optionally salsa and chips, beans and rice, or your favorite accompaniment.
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