What to do with Leftover Chicken

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

We eat a lot of chicken at our house. When I don’t have time to fuss, I often roast a whole bird or just thighs. And sometimes, I cook more than I need for dinner. Leftover cooked chicken is like money in the bank to jump start another meal.

One of my favorite ways to use leftover chicken is to shred it for enchiladas. I used to make my enchiladas the traditional way, softening each corn tortilla in hot oil and dipping it into the enchilada sauce to make the tortillas pliable for stuffing and rolling.

Recently, I’ve been following a simpler method I found in cookbooks by Rick Bayless and Cooks Illustrated: just lay the tortillas on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray, then heat in a 350-degree oven. Way less messy and certainly faster, making enchiladas a good bet for a weeknight dinner.

Chicken Enchiladas
12 corn tortillas (5 ½ inches in diameter)
Cooking spray
2 ½ cups shredded roast chicken
1 can (28 ounces) enchilada sauce, divided
1 cup shredded mild Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Raw onion rings and fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lay 6 corn tortillas on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Flip the tortillas over, sprayed side down and spray again. Add another layer of 6 tortillas over the sprayed tortillas. Spray tortillas again. Bake for about 3 minutes, until tortillas are warm and pliable.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, toss chicken with ½ cup of the enchilada sauce.

When tortillas are pliable, remove from oven, form in one stack and wrap loosely in foil to keep warm. Maintain oven temperature at 350 degrees.

In a 9- X 12-inch baking dish, add ½ cup of enchilada sauce and spread with a spatula to cover the bottom of the dish.

On a clean work surface, take out two corn tortillas from the stack and overlap the tortillas to fit the width of the baking dish. Spoon a little less than ½ cup of chicken mixture on the two tortillas and roll up. Place crosswise into baking dish, seam side down.


Continue to overlap two tortillas, fill with chicken mixture, roll and add to baking dish until all the tortillas and chicken are used and the baking dish is filled.

Pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the tortillas, sprinkle with cheese and bake about 15 minutes, or until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbly. Garnish with onion and cilantro, if desired.

Serves 4 to 6.

Loosely adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless from the cookbook, Mexican Everyday

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Posted: Oct 2nd by Sandy_Hu