Sometime last summer I found a huge bag of hatch green chiles that were on clearance in our local grocery store.
I immediately threw them in my cart, visions of cheesy enchiladas with mild, roasted chiles dancing in my head.
What I created was an abomination. I quickly realized how spicy the chiles were when Joey and I each took our first bite and nearly choked from the heat. I’m sure there are people who love playing chicken with the Scoville Heat Scale who would have absolutely loved them, but at the point that they even made Joey sweat, I knew they were way too spicy for either of us to consume. They ended up being deconstructed and made into another dish with lots of other ingredients to balance out the spice.
When I told Joey I was going to try a recipe for jalapeno enchiladas this week, he looked at me with a bit of skepticism that I wasn’t going to try to kill us both again. Luckily, though, we ended up with a dinner that was just the right amount of spicy and was really delicious.
The recipe I used is from the “All Recipes” website. You can find the original post at https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/218031/jalapeno-cream-cheese-chicken-enchiladas. I added extra seasonings in my version.
Jalapeno Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas
- 1 rotisserie chicken cooked and shredded (about 3 cups)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper divided
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 2 or 3 jalapeno peppers diced (remove seeds and ribs for milder taste)
- 4 to 6 cloves garlic minced
- 8 ounces cream cheese I used fat free
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 28 ounces green enchilada sauce
- 7 to 8 flour tortillas
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese shredded
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a bowl, combine the shredded chicken, one teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper, stirring to incorporate the ingredients. Set it aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapenos, and saute until they are soft. Add in the minced garlic and saute for another couple of minutes until it just starts to brown.
- Cut the cream cheese into one-inch cubes and add to the skillet, stirring to melt the cheese and combine the ingredients.
- Once the cheese is melted, remove the pan from the heat, and add one-half teaspoon cayenne, one teaspoon garlic powder, paprika, cumin and the seasoned chicken. Stir until all the ingredients are well combined.
- In a nine-by-13-inch pan, spread half of the enchilada sauce on the bottom.
- Assemble the enchiladas by spreading a large spoonful of the chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle the filling with about one tablespoon of shredded cheese, and roll the tortilla tightly, leaving the ends open. Place it seam-side down in the pan. Continue until all the filling is used, squishing the tortillas together as necessary.
- Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas and top with the rest of the shredded cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Let sit for five minutes before serving. Garnish with sour cream and pickled jalapenos, if desired.
These had just the right amount of heat, and it was balanced really well with the cheese, but you can also decrease the spice level a bit by leaving out the cayenne pepper. They were also fantastic leftovers, which I always appreciate on busy weeks.
If these still sound too spicy for you but you’re in the mood for enchiladas, I’d encourage you to search for “queso fresco enchiladas” on my website (spiceupkitchen.net). Those would easily fit the bill.
But if you decide to make up your own recipe, just be careful not to blindly trust mystery peppers at the grocery store. And if you do, let me suggest purchasing some good anti-perspirant, a big box of tissues and a gallon of milk to help you recover.
This piece first appeared in print on March 24, 2022.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.