Chile Chicken Nachos

One of my friends has been trying to convince me to make nachos for dinner for quite some time. My kids (who were well aware of this suggestion) were so deprived, they have ordered nachos on several occasions as an entrée when we’ve indulged at a Mexican restaurant. 😉

When I saw this recipe for “party nachos,” I thought that I could (and should) serve them for dinner! Crazy? Nope. My kids were thrilled. After all, nachos are a sheet-pan dinner. This version uses rotisserie chicken meat as a shortcut too.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Rick Martinez. I scaled down the proportions. However, I did prepare the full recipe for the rotisserie chicken and sauce, keeping half to use for tacos, etc., on another occasion.

The bottom layer was reminiscent of a enchilada pie, or taco or enchilada skillet meal- other weeknight favorites over here. The rotisserie chicken meat is coated with a fabulous, full-flavored sauce. This sauce brings these nachos to the next level. I loved all of the toppings too. Very cheesy.

When not being served for dinner, these nachos would also be a great appetizer or snack, of course.

Yield: Serves about 6

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped, divided
  • 1 T achiote paste or tomato paste
  • 8 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded (I substituted 2 ancho chilies plus 4 guajillo chiles)
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, chopped (or 1 T adobo sauce to keep things mild)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled from bones and shredded
  • 1 10-oz bag frozen corn, thawed, drained
  • 1/2 poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, chopped
  • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese (about 1/2 cup) or finely grated Cotija cheese (about 1 cup)
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 8 to 10-oz tortilla chips
  • 1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • thinly sliced radishes, cilantro leaves, avocado cubes, and pickled jalapeños, for serving, as desired
  • sour cream, for serving, as desired
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high until shimmering.
  2. Cook garlic and half of onion, stirring occasionally, until tender and beginning to brown, 6–8 minutes.
  3. Stir in achiote paste/tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until brick red, about 1 minute.
  4. Add dried chiles, chipotle chile, stock, cumin, and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit until chiles are very soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Place a rack in the center of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
  6. Transfer chile mixture to a blender and purée until smooth.
  7. Return to saucepan, stir in chicken, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat; season with salt. Remove from heat; set chicken aside until ready to assemble. (Reserve half of this saucy chicken for another use; only half is needed for the nachos.)
  8. Meanwhile, toss corn, chopped poblano chile, half of the feta/Cotija cheese, and remaining onion in a medium bowl until combined; season with salt.
  9. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  10. Arrange half of the chips in an even layer on the bottom of the baking sheet.
  11. Top with half of the reserved chicken mixture, half of the corn mixture, and half of the cheddar.
  12. Repeat layers with remaining chips, chicken mixture, corn mixture, and cheddar.
  13. Bake nachos, rotating pan halfway through, until cheese is melted and edges of chips are beginning to brown, 8–10 minutes.
  14. Serve topped with radishes, cilantro, avocado, pickled jalapeños, remaining feta/Cotija cheese, sour cream, and other desired toppings alongside.

Do Ahead: Nachos can be assembled 1 hour before baking. Cover with plastic and store at room temperature.

Mexican Lentil Soup with Roasted Garlic & Chilies

It’s been a while. :/ Belated Happy New Year! 🙂 Although I haven’t been posting, I have been cooking, of course.

It has been absolutely freezing here. Freezing. My husband requests some sort of chili or stew for dinner in cold weather. Needless to say, I have a handful of wonderful new cold weather soups to share.

This vegetarian “chili” incorporated both ancho and chipotle chiles as well as roasted garlic. My favorites! 🙂 I also loved the pop of flavor from all of the fresh herbs. It was flavorful and fabulous. An added bonus was that the flavors developed over time and the soup was even better the following day.

This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant by Annie Somerville. I doubled the recipe, increased the lentils and tomatoes, used whole San Marzano tomatoes, substituted fresh thyme for oregano, and increased the heat by using additional chipotle chile puree.  I also modified the technique to roast the garlic.

Yield: Serves 10

  • 1 pound of brown lentils
  • 12 cups cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 fresh oregano or thyme sprigs
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 28 oz canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 red onions, diced, about 4 cups
  • coarse salt
  • 2 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 carrots, diced, about 1 cup
  • 2 small red and/or yellow bell peppers, diced, about 1 cup
  • 4 T Ancho Chile Purée (from 1 large or 2 small chiles, see below)
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Purée, (from 1 chile in adobo sauce) plus more, to taste (I added an additional 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 T chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish, as desired
  • 2 T chopped fresh oregano, for garnish
  1. Sort and rinse the lentils and place them in a soup pot with the water, bay leaves, sage, and oregano/thyme sprig.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Remove the herbs.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Rub the whole garlic heads with a little olive oil, wrap them together in a packet of aluminum foil, and seal it closed. Place directly on the oven rack and roast for about 30 minutes, until soft.
  4. When the garlic has cooled, slice off the top of each head and squeeze the garlic out of its skin. Purée with the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and set aside.
  5. Make the Ancho Chile Purée: Pull the chile(s) apart at the stem end and remove the seeds. Place in a small bowl and cover with hot water, allowing to soak for 15 to 20 minutes, until softened. Place in a blender or food processor; add a small amount of the soaking liquid and process to a smooth purée, adding more liquid if needed.
  6. Make the Chipotle Chile Purée: Using a blender or food processor, purée one whole chile with additional adobo sauce until smooth. Unused purée can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. (I used a 4 quart pot.) Add the onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, the cumin, and the dried oregano; sauté over medium heat until the onion is soft, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  8. Add the carrot and peppers and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the chile purées, the puréed tomatoes and garlic, and 2 teaspoons of salt; simmer for 10 minutes.
  10. Combine the beans and their broth with the vegetables, partially cover, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.
  11. Adjust heat, as desired, by adding additional ancho or chipotle purée. (I added an additional 1/2 tsp chipotle.)
  12. Sprinkle in fresh herbs (cilantro and/or oregano), as desired, just before serving.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

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Five Years Ago:

Six Years Ago:

Dark Meat Chicken Chili

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This chili has an incredible rich flavor. The chicken is browned and then braised and both dried and smoked chiles are used instead of chili powder. Not too spicy- just absolutely delicious!!

This recipe was adapted from a dark meat turkey chili in Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I substituted boneless, skinless, chicken thighs for turkey drumsticks and adjusted the cooking times. We ate it with all of the toppings (of course) as well as with cornbread on the side (in Pullman loaf form!). Perfect for any cold day- or for the Super Bowl. 🙂

Yield: 8 Servings

  • 2 guajillo chiles, stems removed
  • 1 ancho chile, stem removed
  • 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, plus 1 Tbsp. adobo
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 12-oz. can Pilsner or other light beer
  • 2 15-oz. cans pinto beans, rinsed
  • Lime wedges, sour cream, chopped red onion, chopped fresh cilantro, and sliced avocado (for serving)
  1. Toast guajillo and ancho chiles in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, tossing, until darkened in color and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a blender and add 1 cup boiling water. Let sit 10 minutes.
  2. Add chipotle chile and adobo to the soaked dried chiles and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Set chile purée aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Working in batches if needed, cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add onion and garlic to same pot; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, 8–10 minutes.
  5. Mix in cocoa, cumin, oregano, and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until onion is coated and paste begins to darken, about 2 minutes. Add reserved chile purée and bring to boil.
  7. Continue to cook, stirring, until thickened and darkened in color, about 3 minutes.
  8. Add tomatoes, beer, and 4 cups water; season with salt and return chicken to pot. Bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce heat and gently simmer, uncovered, until meat is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and let cool slightly. Shred meat and return to pot.
  10. Add beans and simmer, adding more water as needed, until meat is beginning to fall apart and beans are very tender, 20 to 30 minutes; season chili with salt.
  11. Serve chili with lime wedges, sour cream, red onion, chopped cilantro, and sliced avocado.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Creamy Poblano & Ancho Chicken Tacos: Mix & Match Fillings

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When these two taco fillings were combined, this dish became a variation of our absolute favorite tacos (link posted below!). It is so boring to always make the same tacos… even if they are your favorite! (My husband disagrees…) These two fillings could be eaten separately or together, but we all chose to combine them. The creamy poblano filling would be a wonderful vegetarian option on its own though! This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit. We each constructed them to our liking at the table with rice and refried beans on the side. It was a wonderful reward after our first long day of spring yard work! 🙂

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For the Cumin and Ancho Chicken Filling:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder or chile powder
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt, to taste
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  1. Toss chicken with ancho chile powder, cumin, and 2 tsp. salt in a large bowl to coat. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
  2. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with a thin layer of oil. Working in batches, place thighs in skillet in a single layer (do not crowd). Cover and cook until a crust forms, about 5 minutes. Turn; cook, uncovered, until thighs are just cooked through, 3–4 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter; let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch cubes. Transfer with any accumulated juices to a medium bowl. Season with salt to taste.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool slightly. Cover; chill. Rewarm before serving.

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For the Creamy Poblano Filling:

  • 2 pounds fresh large poblano chiles
  • 1 white onion, quartered, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack
  • Kosher salt
  1. Preheat broiler, build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. If broiling, place chiles on a rimmed baking sheet. If grilling, put chiles directly on grill grate. Roast, turning occasionally, until tender and nicely charred all over, 15–20 minutes.
  2. Transfer chiles to a large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 15 minutes. Peel chiles. Halve lengthwise; discard seeds. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips.
  3. Heat a large dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until beginning to char, 6–7 minutes. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add oregano and 1 cup water; simmer until onion is tender and water has evaporated, 5–7 minutes.
  4. Add chiles; cook until flavors meld, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche and cheese. Add water by table-spoonfuls if mixture is too dry. Season to taste with salt.

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One Year Ago:

Rick Bayless’ Red Mole Enchiladas with Shredded Chicken

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This dish was a labor of love. Rick Bayless titled it “Simple” Red Mole, but I took the “Simple” away from my title. 🙂 The method is simple, but there were so many steps required to make this ultra-FABULOUS sauce I couldn’t describe the dish as simple. Every step was completely worth it! Mole is my absolute favorite and this is a wonderful version. When tasting the sauce for seasoning, I could have gobbled up the entire pot! I did simplify the recipe by using shredded rotisserie chicken in the filling. This recipe is from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine by Rick Bayless with Deann Groen Bayless and Jean Marie Brownson. We ate the enchiladas with rice, refried beans, and sautéed kale with spinach and garlic on the side.

Yield: Serves 6 to 9, with about 6 cups of sauce

For the Essential Sweet-and-Spicy Ancho Seasoning Paste:

  • 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 8 medium (about 4 ounces total) dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • scant 1/4 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 6 cups chicken stock, divided

To Finish the Dish:

  •  3 T vegetable oil, plus a little more if needed
  • 2 oz (about 1/2 cup) whole raw almonds (with or without skins)
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced 1/8-inch thick, divided
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2-3 ripe plum tomatoes
  • scant 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) roughly chopped Mexican chocolate (I used Trader Joe’s 72% cacao Belgian dark chocolate)
  • 2 slices firm white bread, toasted
  • coarse salt, about 2 1/2 tsp, depending on saltiness of stock
  • granulated sugar, about 1 tablespoon
  • 18 corn tortillas (plus a few extra in case some break)
  • a spoonful or two of sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 3 cups cooked, coarsely shredded chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
  • rice, for serving, optional
  • refried beans, for serving, optional

Make the Essential Sweet-and-Spicy Ancho Seasoning Paste:

  1. Roast the unpeeled garlic directly on an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet (I used a cast-iron skillet) over medium heat until soft (they’ll blacken in spots), about 10 minutes; cool and peel.
  2. While the garlic is roasting, toast the chiles on another side of the griddle or skillet: 1 or 2 at a time, open them flat and press down firmly on the hot surface with a spatula; in a few seconds, when they crackle, even send up a wisp of smoke, flip them and press down to toast the other side.
  3. In a bowl, cover the chiles with hot water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking. Drain and discard the water.
  4. Combine the oregano, black pepper, cumin, and clove in a food processor along with the chiles, garlic, and 2/3 cup of the stock. Process to a smooth puree, scraping and stirring every few seconds. If the mixture won’t go through the blender blades, add a little more liquid. Remove from the food processor and set aside.

Make the Mole:

  1. In a medium-size (4 to 6-quart) pot (I used an enameled cast iron pot), heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over medium. Add the almonds and cook, stirring regularly, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the almonds to a food processor.
  2. Add half of the sliced onion to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until richly browned, about 5 to 10 minutes. Use the slotted spoon to scoop the onions in with the almonds, leaving behind as much oil as possible. (If needed, add a little more oil or lard to the pan, let heat, then continue.)
  3. Add the raisins, stir for a minute as they puff, then use the slotted spoon to scoop them in with the almonds.
  4. Roast the tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened on one side, about 6 minutes, then flip them over and roast the other side.
  5. Once the tomatoes are cool, peel and add to the almond mixture in the food processor, along with the cinnamon, chocolate and toasted bread. Add 1 cup of the stock and blend to a smooth puree, scraping and stirring every few seconds.
  6. Return the pot to medium-high heat, and, if necessary, add a little more oil or lard to coat the bottom lightly. When very hot, add the ancho mixture and cook, stirring almost constantly, until darker and very thick, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the pureed almond mixture and cook, stirring constantly for another few minutes, until very thick once again.
  8. Stir in the remaining 4 1/3 cups stock, partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium-low for 45 minutes. Taste and season with salt and sugar. (The sugar balances the strong flavors.)

Finish the Enchiladas:

  1. Warm a plate for each person in a warming drawer or in the oven on the lowest setting.
  2. Warm the tortillas: I put 6 to 8 tortillas at a time on a microwave safe dish (I have a tortilla warmer) covered with a damp paper towel and lid or plastic wrap. Heat for 1 minute or until warm, soft and pliable.
  3. Toast the sesame seeds in a small skillet, stirring frequently, over medium heat until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. In a medium-size saucepan, combine the chicken with 1 1/2 cups of the mole and warm over medium heat. Bring the remaining mole to a simmer. IMG_8221
  5. To serve: Quickly make the enchiladas by scooping 2 generous tablespoons of chicken onto a tortilla, rolling it up and placing it on a warm dinner plate. Continue making enchiladas, arranging 2 or 3 per plate, then douse them liberally with the hot mole. Strew with the remaining sliced onion and toasted sesame seeds.

Notes:

  1. The finished mole will keep for several days, covered and refrigerated; it also freezes well. Reheat, taste and adjust the seasonings before finishing the dish.
  2. Leftover chicken, pork, shredded roast, turkey, grilled steak, or even roasted squash or sweet potato mixed with grilled onion and/or blanched greens would also be wonderful fillings.
  3. The sauce could be served over poached chicken with rice on the side as an alternative special dinner.

One Year Ago:

If you like this you may also like: (Can you tell I’m a fan? 🙂 )

Mario Batali’s Chocolate Chicken Mole

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Mole is one of my favorite things in this world to eat. When we lived in Chicago, we would go to a restaurant that served a different type of mole every night of the week- heaven! When I saw Mario Batali make this mole on The Chew, I couldn’t wait to try it. Wonderful!! Yay! My family- especially my son- gobbled it up too. 🙂

The original recipe called for Mexican drinking chocolate, but, after an unsuccessful search for it, I substituted my favorite Trader Joe’s 72% cacao dark chocolate- perfect. According to Mario Batali, the burnt tortilla is very important for the resulting texture and smokiness of the sauce; I charred the corn tortilla on the open flame of my gas range. I also used boneless, skinless chicken thighs for convenience. The sesame seeds provided a contrasting texture in the otherwise smooth sauce. FABULOUS!!

  • 8 Bone-In Skin-On Chicken Thighs or 10-12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 small White Onions (diced)
  • 3 Garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/2 cup Peanuts
  • 1/4 cup whole Almonds
  • 1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Corn Tortilla (charred and cut into 8 wedges)
  • 4 large Guajillo; New Mexico; or California Chiles (stems removed)
  • 3 large Dried Mulato or Ancho Chiles (stems removed)
  • 1/2 cup Tomato Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock
  • 3 ounces Mexican Drinking Chocolate or 72% cacao dark chocolate (grated)
  • Cilantro (leaves only; to garnish)
  • Lime Wedges (to garnish)
  • Brown Basmati Rice, for serving
  • Sour Cream, for serving, if desired
  1. In a large dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken deeply on all sides and remove to a plate. Add the onions, garlic, and cinnamon to the pot and cook over medium-low for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the peanuts, almonds, sesame seeds, charred tortilla, and chiles. Pour 3 cups of boiling water over the contents of the bowl and steep for 5 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid, remove solids to a food processor, and pulse with just enough water to create a sauce-like paste.
  3. Pour the paste over the onion mixture, and add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken pieces and chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chocolate and simmer 2 more minutes. Serve with rice, sour cream, and fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges, if desired.

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