experiments in cooking

Posts tagged ‘sour cream’

Easy Chicken Enchiladas for Those of Us Who Don’t Like Mexican Food

Back when I was a young teen, I refused to eat anything that sounded even remotely Mexican. Then my granny served some chicken enchiladas that I was required to try out of politeness—and I liked them.

Then again, I may not have been especially polite. It’s possible the conversation went something like this:

“I don’t like Mexican food.”

“But this isn’t like most Mexican food.”

“Still, I don’t like enchiladas.”

“You haven’t even tried them.”

“Why should I try something I know I don’t like?”

“You’ll eat the enchiladas if you want dessert!”

“Okay, okay, I’ll taste the enchilada.”

I hope the conversation didn’t go this way. But I’m sure I was thinking all of my side of the above conversation. And, today, I have versions of this conversation at every meal with my four-year-old.

Anyway, these enchiladas weren’t necessarily real Mexican enchiladas, but they involved tortillas and chicken and green chiles and onion and sour cream, and to my surprise, I liked them. And I stopped telling everyone that I hated all Mexican food.

This week I decided it was time to try making Granny’s chicken enchiladas myself, for my family, my parents-in-laws, and my brother-in-law at our regular Tuesday night dinner. I’d never tried to make the dish, and the recipe looked simple. And, even though I often don’t like sour cream, I remembered liking this dish a lot. Plus, I had a thrifty scheme to bake a chicken one night for dinner and use the leftover breast meat for chicken enchiladas the next night. Who doesn’t get a kick out of making really good use of leftovers?

To make the enchiladas, I first preheated the oven to 350 degrees and sprayed a large baking pan with canola oil. Next I shredded the chicken breast meat, chopped a single green onion, and then mixed the green onion and a small can of green chiles into the chicken. Then I thoroughly mixed one can of reduced sodium cream of chicken soup and eight ounces of light sour cream. I added three soup spoons full of the soup mixture to the chicken and mixed it together to bind the onion and chiles to the chicken. Next I divided the chicken mixture evenly into eight tortillas. I rolled up each tortilla and placed them, seam side down, into the baking dish. Then I poured the rest of the soup mixture over the tortillas and, finally, sprinkled a small amount of cheese (shredded fiesta blend) over the top to add a little color and texture. I put the dish in the oven and baked it for exactly 45 minutes. I served them with medium salsa on the side, along with a lettuce salad.

My chicken enchiladas turned out tasting exactly as I remember Granny’s enchiladas tasting years ago. Delicious! I noticed, pleased, that my father-in-law ate two of them, and my husband ate two and a half. I don’t like to encourage overeating, but I have to admit I liked to see the enchiladas disappearing.

Oh, and the way I figured it, everyone who ate one enchilada or two definitely earned their dessert. Everyone, that is, except my four-year-old, Jonah, who did not try an enchilada at all. Like a teenager I once knew, the kid doesn’t like Mexican food, doesn’t eat enchiladas, and doesn’t want to try anything he knows he won’t like.

Two Types of People: Those Who Love Sour Cream, and Those Who Don’t

When I was in college, there was one meal the university cafeteria served that I absolutely loved: poppy seed chicken over rice. Even after I moved off campus in the middle of my junior year, I always ate at the cafeteria the nights they served poppy seed chicken.

A few years later, I was a newlywed compiling recipes for my favorite childhood meals into a personal cookbook, and I thought about that poppy seed chicken. In a fit of nostalgia for the good old college days, I researched poppy seed chicken recipes online and added one of them to my cookbook, along with recipes from Mom and Aunt Marilyn and Grandma Tena and Granny Baker and my best friend’s mom, Linda Hensley.

Last week, I got to thinking that I’d never made several of the recipes in my personal cookbook. I sat down to read through the chicken section, and came across the recipe for “Poppy Seed Poultry Casserole.” Why not? I thought. I do miss that poppy seed chicken.

“Did you like that poppy seed chicken they served in the cafeteria back in college?” I asked my husband.

“Not particularly,” said Chris.

I wasn’t letting anything curb my enthusiasm. So I said, “Mind if I make some poppy seed chicken next Monday?”

Chris shrugged, and I think maybe he rolled his eyes. This means, Whatever floats your boat, Sarah. I guess he didn’t want to argue about poppy seed chicken.

Over the week I purchased a couple of ingredients for the dish that I didn’t have on hand—poppy seeds, dill, and one that concerned me: sour cream. I don’t like sour cream much. I’m not sure why I originally selected a recipe that included eight ounces of sour cream, but maybe back in the early 2000s there weren’t as many recipes online from which to choose. And I don’t mind sour cream when baked in coffee cakes or cookies, even though can’t stand it in a burrito or on top of nachos … I don’t know why I have these feelings about sour cream.

Maybe I wouldn’t be able to taste it in the final dish.

At any rate, I decided to forge ahead with the poppy seed chicken, and when Monday afternoon rolled around, I rushed home from my job and got to work.

While sautéing two boneless chicken breasts (cut into bite-size pieces), I mixed together one can of cream of chicken soup, eight ounces of sour cream, one tablespoon of poppy seeds, one teaspoon of dill, and 3 cups of cooked rice. I added the sautéed chicken, then pressed the mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Then I mixed some Ritz cracker crumbs with a little butter and sprinkled the cracker crumbs over the top of the dish. Next I placed the dish in the oven to bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

At dinner, I took one bite and knew: I hated this dish. All I could taste was the sour cream, permeating everything. This was not the poppy seed chicken of my memories.

As I sat, trying to force down a few bites, trying to like it, Chris exclaimed, “Hey, I love this stuff!”

I looked up. I paused, then said, “I don’t think I like it.”

“What?” said Chris. “You better not be telling me I’m not going to get to have this again! Because that would be bad.”

“I don’t like the sour cream,” I said, mournfully. “I was afraid this would happen.”

“I can’t even taste the sour cream,” said Chris.

“Well, I don’t think I can finish this,” I said. “And I’m afraid there’s going to be a lot left over.”

“That’s okay,” said Chris. “I’m going to have seconds—and maybe thirds.”

I watched as Chris cleaned his plate, left the table, and then returned, the entire plate heaped with poppy seed poultry casserole (with sour cream). And told me several more times how delicious it was.

Well, I’m glad he liked it. Maybe a lot of people would like it. But now I have to find the dish I dreamed of—I have to find a poppy seed chicken dish that tastes like the one I had in the college cafeteria.

And when I do, will I love it and Chris hate it? No, I won’t believe that. Somewhere out there is a poppy seed chicken and rice dish that we both can love …

I am looking for you, chicken.

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