These creamy Chicken and White Bean Enchiladas can be made with a deli chicken or leftover turkey. The white beans add some protein and fibre so they move up a notch on the nutritional scale. Every little bit helps! This is Mexican comfort food at its best.
My friend Shelley and I got together years ago when we were neighbours and made two huge batches of enchiladas. One batch of Chicken Enchiladas, one batch of beef. I hadn’t ever had them before and they were so SO good. We talked about doing more or making something different next time. Then she moved to the other side of town. Then we moved away. We don’t see each other as often any more but I always think of her when I make Chicken and White Bean Enchiladas. I added the white beans to the original recipe to help fill up the tortilla shells and for extra nutritional value.
If you’re making these with a standard sized deli chicken, the breast meat is about the right amount for this recipe. Which works great in our house because we like the dark meat best when it’s fresh from the “oven” ahem, I mean the Foodland. That’s ok, I have no guilt whatsoever when I buy a deli chicken because MOST of the time I make our meals at home. I’m supporting the local economy by the way!
Use Leftover Turkey
If you have leftover Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, this is an excellent way to use some up. Both white meat and dark meat are perfectly fine in these Enchiladas. In fact, if you have any leftover gravy you can add it to the sauce. You can even go totally crazy and add leftover stuffing to the enchiladas as well. But, in our house we don’t usually have leftover stuffing so that probably won’t happen here.
Start by chopping or shredding cooked chicken or turkey and add it to a large bowl. Remove the skin but don’t worry if there’s a bit here and there, it will only add to the flavour. Drain and rinse a can of white kidney beans. Drain well and add to the chicken, along with a small can of diced green chilies. Chop up some fresh cilantro and dice a red pepper into tiny pieces. This helps add to the colour of the filling, otherwise it’s pretty bland. Season with salt and mix well. You don’t have to use the whole can of white beans if you have more than enough chicken or turkey.
In a large pan melt the butter and sauté the onion until soft. Add flour, dried chicken stock and cumin and cook while stirring a few minutes. You need to cook the flour to prevent the sauce from tasting starchy. The extra chicken seasoning really adds to the flavour. You can use a chicken bouillon cube (crush it up if you can), package or a spoonful of dried instant chicken stock such as Epicure. Then add the chicken broth and simmer until thick and bubbling. Add about a ladle of sauce to the chicken mixture and stir.
Remove the pan of sauce from the heat and stir in the sour cream. Use full fat sour cream so your sauce doesn’t curdle. And don’t use fat free sour cream. Ever. There are some strange ingredients in there. Artificial thickeners. Ick.
Pour a ladle or 2 of sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 oven safe dish and spread to cover the entire bottom evenly.
Shred the cheese. A sharp old cheddar works best and looks best if there’s a combination of white and orange coloured cheese.
Assembling Chicken and White Bean Enchiladas is a messy job so have everything ready before you start.
The best size of tortilla shells are 8 inches and they just happen to be packaged in 8s which is the perfect amount.
Put a ladle or two of the sauce in the bottom of a large plate. Take one tortilla and press into the sauce on the plate, then flip over. Put about 1/8th of the chicken mixture in a line down the middle and add a little shredded cheese. Then roll into a tube and place in the baking dish.
Repeat with the remaining tortillas. You need to crowd them to make all eight fit. And don’t worry if some of the filling spills out, just poke it back in the ends. Add more sauce to the plate as needed.
Scrape any leftover sauce from the plate back into the pan, stir and pour over the enchiladas, ensuring the sauce is spread to all edges of the baking dish.
Sprinkle fresh chopped cilantro and cover the top with remaining shredded cheese.
Preheat the oven to 350° and let the enchiladas sit to absorb some sauce. You can make this earlier in the day and bake later, or freeze uncooked. Make sure you thaw it completely before baking, or cover and cook at a lower temperature for about half an hour then uncover for 30 minutes at 350.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes if you’re cooking right away. If you have convection setting, use it for the last 5 minutes if the top hasn’t browned.
Let it rest at least for 5 or 10 minutes before serving.
Here’s the recipe:
Chicken and White Bean Enchiladas
- 8 large soft flour tortillas 8 inch
- 1/2 onion
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dry chicken stock or 1 package or cube
- 3 cups chicken broth or 2 cups plus 1 cup leftover gravy
- 1 cup sour cream, 250 ml container not reduced fat
- 2 cups shredded old cheddar cheese divided
- 3 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey
- 1 19 oz can drained and rinsed white kidney beans
- 1 127 ml can green chilies
- 1/4 sweet red pepper
- 1 large handful chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
- Chop or shred chicken or turkey into small pieces. Combine with drained and rinsed white beans and canned green chilies.
- Chop fresh cilantro and add half to the chicken mixture, reserving the rest for the top and for garnish.
- Finely dice red pepper and add to chicken mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Finely mince onion. Melt butter in large skillet and saute onion until soft. Add flour, dried chicken stock and cumin and stir until no white flour is visible. Add chicken broth (and gravy if using) and simmer until thick and bubbling.
- Add a ladle of sauce to the chicken mixture and combine well. Remove sauce from heat and stir in sour cream. Add a ladle of sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish and spread evenly.
- Shred cheese and divide in half, reserving 1 cup for the top.
- Prepare assembly line with tortillas, large dinner plate, chicken mixture, cheese, ending with large baking dish. Place a ladle or two of sauce in the centre of the large dinner plate. Press one tortilla into the sauce, flip over and put about 1/8th of the chicken mixture in a line down the centre. Add some shredded cheese, then roll into a tube. Place in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Arrange so they are lined up crosswise evenly.
- Pour remaining sauce over the tortillas and spread evenly. Top with most of the remaining cilantro and the rest of the cheese. Let rest while the oven preheats to 350 degrees. Ensure the rack is set to the middle position. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is browning and bubbling.