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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recipe! Chicken, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

So what's the next big thing in food? The lowly sweet potato, if certain sources are to be believed...and based on the number of non-holiday sweet potato recipes I've seen pop up lately, it looks like it's true! And why not? Sweet potatoes are listed as one of the world's healthiest foods for a reason...mainly speaking, beta-carotine. But they are full of all sorts of vitamins and are fabulously good for you, and delicious to boot.

The fun part about sweet potatoes is that their flavor lends itself well to all sorts of interpretation...and as long as you aren't filling them with sugar and covering them in marshmallows, you can get pretty darn creative. The light sweetness of the sweet potato lends itself well to spicy seasonings, such as chipotle. But it also does will in baking sweet breads and in all sorts of soups and chilis...

I wanted to make a dish that would celebrate the flavor of the sweet potato, and I believe I have done just exactly that. These enchiladas are a bit untraditional...they have no sauce. But preparing each ingredient individually means that they each shine on your palette with every bite, and the result? Absolutely delicious and bursting with flavor.

When you make this, you will need to season intuitively. I gave measurements but, as always, they are approximate and may require doctoring. Though this recipe has a lot of steps, none of them are difficult, and it's not nearly as time consuming as I expected. This is sure to please, and can be dressed up or down (or spiced up or down!) as you please.

Make, enjoy, and share!

Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Enchiladas 

2 chicken breasts, trimmed
2 cups chicken broth, plus some extra
2 onions, cut in half-circles
2 T olive oil
2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups black beans
1 pound queso blanco, crumbled or grated
15 white corn tortillas

Chipotle powder (to taste)
Chili powder
Garlic powder
Black Pepper

1. In a medium skillet, heat 1 T olive oil over medium-high heat. Add about 1 t salt, pinch of chipotle powder, 1/2 t chili powder, 1/2 t cumin, 1 t garlic powder, and a sprinkle of black pepper and cook in oil until fragrant. Add chicken breasts and pour broth over them until it's about halfway up the sides of the chicken.

2.  Allow to simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through and comes apart easily with a fork, turning over every five to so minutes to ensure even cooking. If liquid levels get too low, add additional broth. When chicken is cooked, remove from heat and shred with two forks. Add a sprinkle of parsley and return chicken to heat, stirring until broth and spices are completely absorbed. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. Add 1 T olive oil and onions to the pan and cook over medium heat. Season with a pinch of cumin and chili powder, 1/2 t brown sugar and a bit of salt, cook until beginning to caramelize and brown. Remove from pan and set aside. While these cook, parboil the sweet potatoes for about three minutes, then drain.

4. Dump black beans into pan with a little bit of their own liquid (from the can or cooking at home) or some additional chicken broth. stir in 1 t chili powder, 1/2 t cumin, 1 t garlic powder, 1/4 t chipotle powder, and salt to taste, stir frequently until simmering, then add sweet potatoes. Allow to simmer together for a minute or two, then remove from heat.


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a little bit of broth in a small skillet. For each enchilada, dip the tortilla in the hot broth VERY briefly on each side, then place on a plate. Working quickly, add a little bit of onions, a little bit of chicken, a little bit of black beans and sweet potatoes, and a sprinkle of grated queso blanco. Roll each enchilada up and place them seam-side down in a 9x13 Pyrex dish (or something similar).

2. Once all the enchiladas have been rolled, use any extra beans, sweet potatoes, chicken, and onions over the top of the filled tortillas. Use a generous helping of cheese over the enchiladas and bake until cheese is melted and just beginning to brown. Serve with sour cream!

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