Sometimes, being starved just makes you want to go to the nearest Mac Donald’s.
But, despite that, imagine how great having homemade chicken enchiladas would be at that moment.
They are definitely everyone’s favorite. This Tex-Mex food is such a perfect combination that represents the creation of American and Texan cuisine.
Nonetheless, not everyone knows how to cook the dish properly. Therefore, it’s even harder for people to know the true purpose behind covering enchiladas when baking.
In today’s article, we will show you why and how to do it.
Do You Cover Chicken Enchiladas When Baking?
Covering chicken enchiladas when baking is optional. Nonetheless, it’s best to cover it with foil when baking as the taste would come out significantly better.
Many famous professional chefs always recommend this technique when cooking one of the most delicious Tex-Mex foods.
Why Should You Do So?
Most enchiladas are baked with foil, mainly aluminum foil until heated through.
Aluminum foil conducts heat well in ovens or grills.
In addition, it can withstand high temperatures, which acts as an excellent barrier to keep your chicken enchiladas from overbaking, allowing the foods to cook more slowly and thoroughly without burning.
Aluminum foil can also be used to line trays to keep them clean and scrub pans or grill grates to remove tough stains and residue.
On the other hand, using aluminum foil for cooking can also have some downsides if you don’t do the research and use it wisely.
Further reading: Aluminum Foil Do’s And Don’ts
What Not To Do When Covering?
There are few things that you should remember not to do while covering with aluminum foil:
Do not line the bottom of the oven with foil to catch spills and drips
According to Mary Ellen Camire, Ph.D., a product-development expert for the nonprofit Institute of Food Technologists, doing so will cause food to heat unevenly and, over time, can damage the oven.
So instead, you’re better off wiping up spills after each use, after the oven has cooled but before the spill has hardened.
Do not use the foil with acidic foods
Acidic foods (such as tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tart fruits) can react with aluminum and erode the foil after a few days. So you’re better off using plastic wrap or even glass containers for these foods.
Also, wrapping food in foil is only a temporary solution because a foil-wrapped burrito is not airtight.
How Long Should You Bake Chicken Enchiladas In An Oven?
Oven temperatures and baking times vary by recipe, but they take about 25 minutes to bake on average.
Keep the food in the oven until the sauce begins to bubble and the cheese begins to brown. At the same time, the tortillas could be slightly crispy on the outside.
After the enchiladas have been heated through, sprinkle with the cheese.
Further reading: How to Make Enchiladas as Good as Your Favorite Mexican Restaurant
What’s The Ideal Temperature?
Depending on each recipe, the temperature may vary differently. However, if you want the best out of your dish, 350˚F is recommended.
The perfect temperature of 350˚F along with 25 minutes in the oven brings you the most delicious Tex-Mex chicken enchiladas. Many professional chefs have also suggested that the temperature of 350˚F should be kept constant throughout the baking process for the best results.
As long as you follow the proper guidelines, you shall never be worried about the quality of your chicken enchiladas.
Can You Use Uncooked Tortillas For Enchiladas?
The answer is yes. Enchiladas can be made with both cooked and uncooked tortillas. However, because enchiladas are made with corn tortillas, which are tough unless fresh, you should always have these tortillas well cooked for the most enjoyable experience.
To prevent cracking while rolling, the tortillas must be softened, which is why they are usually quickly fried. You can soften without frying by using a comal, steaming, or spraying with oil and baking.
How Can You Keep Enchiladas From Getting Soggy?
Red, green, or brown sauces are commonly used in enchiladas (brown being the Tex-Mex style featuring a mix of gravy and chiles). Also, make your own sauce as the jarred ones are not the best.
Whether you use tomato, tomatillos, or just the peppers themselves as the base, make sure your sauce has a good consistency.
Cook the tortillas the right way
The most important tip to keep your enchiladas from being soggy is to fry your tortillas briefly in hot oil before filling and rolling.
This acts as a barrier between the tortillas and the sauce, preventing them from absorbing too much of it and breaking down.
First, choose good, fresh corn tortillas, preferably those made from nixtamal and free of preservatives. Then, heat the oil to medium-high heat and fry the tortillas for about ten seconds per side, or until they begin to crisp and brown.
If you’re concerned about too much oil, you can use paper towels to absorb it.
Fill it up
This is the exciting part–choosing a filling to suit your preferences. You can choose between meats, vegetables, cheese, or a combination of the three. There are no rules in this game.
Consider texture and balance–meats should be ground or slow-cooked and shredded (you don’t want to have to cut your enchilada to eat it); vegetables should be pre-cooked.
The amount of heat in the filling should be determined by the sauce and your taste. Mild sauces can benefit from the addition of fresh chopped jalapenos, while spicy sauces can benefit from vegetables such as sweet potato.
DON’T skimp on the sauce
No, authentic enchiladas aren’t supposed to be swimming in sauce, contrary to popular belief in the United States. For eight enchiladas, you’ll need about 4 cups of sauce.
Spread about a cup of sauce lengthwise down the center of your baking sheet before frying your tortillas. After frying the tortillas, dip them in the sauce to coat the entire surface.
This method ensures even distribution of the sauce, and less sauce means your tortillas will be less likely to fall apart.
Fill each tortilla with filling, roll it up, and place it (seam-side down) in the pan. Pour the remaining sauce over the rolled tortillas, then top with cheese.
Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken Enchiladas?
Enchiladas can be made quickly for a weeknight dinner, and you can even use leftover chicken or turkey to make them.
So, can cooked enchiladas be frozen? Yes, enchiladas are a popular meal to prepare ahead of time and freeze for an easy dinner or lunch, and the same is valid for freezing leftover enchiladas.
Freezing enchiladas is a breeze, especially since you’ve already done the work of cooking them.
How Do You Reheat Frozen Chicken Enchiladas?
Suppose you’re feeding a large family or a large group. In that case, the enchiladas can be reheated in the casserole dish.
You should preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit before putting your frozen chicken enchiladas in from the freezer or refrigerator.
Keep the foil on the dish and reheat for 20-30 minutes (refrigerated) or 45 minutes (frozen), or until the enchiladas are warm if you prefer to reheat individual servings, microwave enchiladas in small microwave-safe containers for 2-3 minutes or reheat in a toaster oven for 10-15 minutes.
Covering the chicken enchiladas when baking gets you the exact temperature needed. By doing this, the food won’t be over-baked and cooked more thoroughly.
This simple step might as well bring you a good Tex-Mex meal living up to your expectations.
Mariana Rouco is the editor-in-chief of Elpasony.com. She loves traveling and writing about foods and cooking in general. She has a degree from the New England Culinary Institute and enjoys Mexican, Italian, and Chinese cuisines the most.