Friday, December 2, 2011

White Chicken Enchiladas

Winter. We associate it with cold, with dark days and long nights, with frost and ice and snow,.It's color palette is silver and white. It's temperament is slow and slick. However, wintertime is a time of wonderful things as well as a downshift in the temperature. The Christmas Holidays and Jewish Holidays with all the fun and family and festive moments that make us remember what family can feel like and keep us mindful of the meaningful things in life.

Even after the Holidays have passed and we are left with the bleak winter mornings of January and February we can sense the need for change and goal setting as if a renewed sense of purpose for our lives will bring the happiness we strive for. It is the seed of change and renewal planted within us, waiting for the spring to bring about the growth.

And our relationship to our mealtimes shifts, from the parties and celebratory dinners during the holiday season, to themore simple time of gathering around warm fires and hearths with hot pots of soups and stews which warm the belly and sooth the soul. This is winter.

When I was an actor I spent a number of Christmas seasons and one winter in Wisconsin working at the Fireside Theater in Fort Atkinson. A small picturesque town on a river in the west central part of the state directly between Milwaukee and Madison.  It was there that I made my first acquaintance with the wonderful foods of the Dairy State. Foods like the butter burger, the cheese curd, and Kringel, a scandinavian pastry famous in the Midwest. It is also where I learned to love beer and wings and of all things sushi?? All that and of course cheese. Cheese and dairy in ways I never thought of before! Cheese cheese and more cheese, should be the Wisconsin Motto.

It should be no surprise that this love of dairy has found it's way into many ethnic foods there in ways or in amounts like no where else! I mean Alfredo sauce is good but lets add cream cheese to it just to make it richer!

So as you might imagine my recipe for today in inspired by both my theme of Winter, the belly filling goodness of winter foods that go along with winter, but also my relationship to winter in Wisconsin, which was colder and harder than anything I had yet experienced!

I bring you Winter White Enchiladas!!! Which I experienced for the first time in Wisconsin. One of the little boys in the christmas show brought a meal to the rest of the actors that his mom and he had made together for us. White Chicken Enchiladas. Now, when I say these were good, I mean they were a revelation. After all you are talking to someone who thinks that cream and cheese belong in their own food group. Simply, savory, creamy, cheesy, warm, filling and good. These are the hallmarks of this brand of enchilada. Not that they really resemble enchiladas, did not. BUT BOY WERE THEY GOOD!!!!

So over the years since then I have tried to modify the recipe and improve upon it till I believe I have come up with the ultimate version that could possible be made. ( I know the pioneer Woman makes a mean one but this I think even tops hers. So James, thanks for setting me on quest for creamy cheesy yummy!! I hope you all enjoy it!


2 white onions chopped
1 package 8oz cream cheese
4 chicken breasts cooked and chopped
1 package fresh spinach leaves
1 package white corn tortillas about 25
1 lbs sharp white cheddar grated
3 cans green chilies
2 pints whipping cream
8 oz sour cream
3 cans 8oz green enchilada sauce ( You can mke your own if you want )
2 tablespoons cumin (reserve one for use later)
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper

Saute Onions till soft add Spinach till wilted then add chicken, 2 of the cans of chillies, sour cream, cream cheese. 8 oz of the enchilada sauce and spices.
Stir until chicken and cheese is melted and well combined.
Divide cheese in half.
Place each tortilla in a pan and heat till warmed through and soft, you could fry them if you wanted.
Place a good amount of mixture with some of the cheese on each tortilla and roll.
Place seam side down in a greased baking pan.
Once all are tightly in dish cover with additional cheese.
Mix the cream with enchilada sauce  and one can of the green chillies and the paprika and the reserved cumin.
Bake for 30 mins in the oven at 350 degrees.
Serve Warm.

Hope you all enjoy!!!