Saturday, May 5, 2012

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

These chicken and black bean enchiladas are made with corn tortillas are wrapped around tender chicken, black beans and cheese and smothered with spicy homemade enchilada sauce, then baked till the cheese is all bubbly and more-ish. Never use that packet or canned enchilada sauce again! Homemade is simple and way more delicious. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt your scheduled Middle Eastern meal, part 2, to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!  Which, by the way, is in no way the celebration of Mexico’s independence from anywhere.  Historically, it commemorates the Mexican Army’s unexpected victory over French forces in 1862.  Guess which date?  But in the southern United States, it has become a day to honor and celebrate Mexican heritage and culture.  We held our own little celebration with margaritas and chicken enchiladas right here in Cairo.  Just like the American Association of Malaysia used to have a Cinco de Mayo party.  (Remind me to tell you of the time we made a HUGE soccer ball piñata and I cooked Spanish rice for 100 - in a Styrofoam cooler.  It’s a great recipe!)  It is what expats do.   Any excuse for a celebration that reminds us of home.

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons dark chili (seasoning) powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin powder
2 medium onions
1 14 oz or 398g can crushed tomatoes
Olive oil

For the filling:
1 teaspoon sea salt
18oz or 520g skinless boneless chicken breasts
140g cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheeses
1 14 oz or 398g can black or pinto beans
(3/4 cup or 180ml of the sauce)

To assemble:
12 fresh soft white corn tortillas
140g Cheddar and/or Jack cheeses

Fill a pot with enough water to cover your chicken breasts.  Bring it to the boil and add the chicken breasts and the sea salt.  

Once it begins to boil again, turn it down to simmer and cover.  Cook gently for about 10-15 minutes or until the chicken breasts are cooked through.  Take them out and allow them to cool.  (This can be done a day ahead.)

Next, chop your onions and sauté them in a generous amount of olive oil.   

Once the onions have softened, add in the chili powder, the cumin and the crushed tomatoes.  

Add an extra tomato can of water to the pot.  Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Grate your cheese/cheeses and set aside.

Rinse the canned beans.

Chop the cooled chicken up into small pieces.

When the sauce has simmered for about 20-30 minutes, give it a last good stir and take it off the fire.  

Add 3/4 cup or 180ml of the sauce to the chicken.  Stir thoroughly then add 140g (or half the total) cheese and stir again.  Add in the rinsed beans and mix once more.

Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Spread some sauce in the bottom of your baking dish.

Taking one soft tortilla at a time (I covered the others with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out.) add the filling and fold in the sides.  Place seam side down in the baking pan.  Continue until all the tortillas are filled. 

Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas and spread it around. 

If there is any filling left over, this can be sprinkled on the top the sauce.  Top with the remaining cheese. 

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and brown the cheese under the broiler or grill for a further 10 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.

Serve with a side of sliced avocado with a little lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  And a margarita. Don’t forget the margarita!



  1. Mmmm...reminds me of Texas for sure! We attended the Seoul International Friendship Festival yesterday with booths from all over the world, and there was a Mexican booth, but we were surprised that they hadn't decorated for Cinco de Mayo at all - odd, huh? We went ahead and drank a beer at their booth anyway, though. ; )

  2. Yep. Apparently it's mostly a southern US thing, unless you are from the state of Puebla in Mexico, where the battle was fought and they still celebrate the victory as El Día de la Batalla de Puebla. No mention of the date. Who knows how it ended up as it did north of the border. An international friendship festival with food and drink from all over sounds like a party I would love to attend. Glad you had a beer anyway and celebrated Cinco de Mayo in your own way.


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