Recipe: Enchilada-Spiced Pulled Chicken

You have to understand, I’m a native New Mexican. I’ve been eating enchiladas since I was a chica gringa pequeña. Where I grew up they were slathered in a red chile enchilada sauce, accompanied by salty refried pinto beans, and topped with copious amounts of gooey yellow cheese. They swam in pools of technicolor-orange grease. Yum…

So you can see why I routinely get an itch deep down for that flavor. It sure is nice to be able to pour out a sauce from a can or jar, but every single one I’ve found has some objectionable ingredient in it. Luckily for me, making my own turned out to be almost as easy.

For this application, I was after something more like pulled pork. Not too saucy, not too dry. This would be awesome as tacos in lettuce wraps, but I only had salad mix on hand, so it topped a salad mixed with a lime vinaigrette.

Enchilada-Spiced Pulled Chicken

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

2 Tbsp. lard or cooking fat of choice

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 Tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 cup water

lettuce, for serving either as lettuce wraps or salad

Garnishes (optional): sour cream, avocado, cilantro, tomatoes, grated cheese, radishes

1) Sprinkle S&P over chicken on both sides. In large skillet, heat lard over medium-high heat then add chicken. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes, then flip over and cook until browned on that side and cooked through, another 5 minutes. You want some nice crispy surfaces.

2) Remove chicken to a sturdy cutting board and let cool enough to handle. Take two forks and shred the meat with the grain into long pieces.

3) Meanwhile, return pan to medium-high heat. Stir in tomato paste and spices, then add in water a little bit at a time until it’s reached a desired pasty consistency. Add more water if too much cooks off (you probably won’t use all the water, but be sure to have it handy). When sauce looks incorporated, add shredded chicken back to the skillet and stir to re-warm and coat in sauce. Serve!

Serves 4.

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