I have mentioned in an earlier post how Mum would allow me to help her make the perfect lump-free white or bechamel sauce when I was younger. She would begin by making a roux (browning some flour in sizzling butter or other fats like bacon grease etc) then adding milk at just the right moment, and I would start stirring furiously to avoid any lumps as it would thicken. By cleverly and carefully tempering eggs, she would develop the sauce into creamy bechamel which was the basis for all kinds of dishes and casseroles. Needless to say, it was quite the achievement when I learnt how to make these sauces successfully but there were so many points where it could (and did) go wrong. If the flour didn’t cook long enough in the butter, the sauce would taste raw, or if the milk was added too quickly and not whisked fast enough, it was a lumpy tasteless mess. Worst of all was when the eggs weren’t tempered properly and I ended up with a bowl full of scrambled mush!! Once you have made these sauces a few times, the mistakes are less likely and you become a roux champion but sometimes the process can still be quite stressful – even for the most experienced cook. So why do people still bother?
White sauce is so delicious and many of our favourite dishes, like mac n cheese or enchiladas, begin with it. Unfortunately, many new budding home cooks can be put off by this process (and the time involved) and turn to the jarred variety or ready meal option which are so inferior in flavour and texture. Recently, I saw a recipe for mac n cheese that involved substituting the roux palava for cream cheese and noticed this was an increasing trend in recipes hailed as ‘quick, easy dinners’. I decided anything that would be more simple and involve cream cheese had to be worth a try so I concocted an enchilada recipe for my first attempt. It was amazing! Easy, lump-free, creamy deliciousness! What else can you ask for? ‘More cheese’ I hear you say? Got you covered!
Easy Peasy Very Cheesy Enchiladas
1 pack of reduced fat Cream Cheese (80z each) cubed and at room temperature.
1 cup skimmed milk
jar of your favourite green salsa
2 cups of shredded cheese (I like 2% Mexican Blend)
5-6 whole wheat tortillas
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp butter (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Grease a large rectangular baking dish and preheat oven to 400 F. Heat olive oil in a pan and brown onion and garlic on medium heat. At the same time, place 3/4 cup of milk in a pan with butter and the cream cheese, stir frequently over low heat until melted and smooth. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese and stir until combined well and turn off heat. Pour half the milk cheese mixture in with the onions and garlic, and add chicken and spices. Lay out each tortilla and place a line of the chicken mixture down each center. Spoon your favourite salsa over the chicken. Fold each side of the tortilla over the center mixture and then place them fold-side-down into greased baking dish. Spoon over some more of the salsa, taking care to go right to the edge of each tortilla. Put the remaining milk and cheese mixture back on medium heat and add the rest of the milk, salt and pepper to taste,and stir until well combined. Spoon cheese mixture over tortillas and top with 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese. It may not look like there is enough sauce at this point but as the enchiladas cook in the oven, the sauce melts further and spreads creating a lovely velvet pool of cheesy goodness. Place in oven for 30 minutes. Serve with sour cream.