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Try a Southwestern treat on a wintry night

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Green enchiladas with chicken is a dish that kind of revolutionizes the concept of the red sauce and endless repetitions of the same flavors. It isn't that I don't like them, but there is a variety in the basic category of enchiladas that is a lot of fun to explore.

The last time I went to Elvira's in Nogales, Mexico (just south of the border an hour from Tucson), I had chicken enchiladas with mole verde, or green sauce. They were amazing and I realized that I had been missing out on something wonderful. Later Elvira's moved north to the charming community of Tubac, with its art community and restaurants that have just been augmented by the addition of Elvira's. It was in Tubac that I got my basic instructions in how to make syrup from the Nopal cactus, which is sold in Tucson and used to make Prickly Margaritas, among other good things.

You can also contrive to make these green enchiladas dairy-free by substituting the products from Tofutti and other non-dairy companies, and that is what I would do if I were making them, so just mark the dairy products and remember what you can find at Whole Foods and Sprouts in Tucson.

CHICKEN GREEN ENCHILADAS

Ingredients:

4 ounces cream cheese or substitute, softened
¼ cup Greek yogurt or soy yogurt (non-fat, plain)
2 cups prepared green enchilada salsa
2 cups grated Cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (you can use rotisserie chicken)
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Sea salt, to taste
Ground white pepper, to taste
14 soft round 6 to 8-­inch flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl cream together the cream cheese and the Greek yogurt.
Stir in ½ cup of the salsa and 1 cup of the grated cheese.

In a second bowl toss together the chicken, the corn, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken mixture to the cheese mixture and stir to combine.

In a baking dish spread a ½ cup of the salsa over the bottom. Place about a half-cup of the filling on a tortilla, roll up and transfer to the baking dish with the seam side down. Repeat the process for all the tortillas.

Pour the remaining salsa over enchiladas, spreading to coat all of them. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top.

Enchiladas may be prepared up to this point 12 hours in advance.
Transfer to a preheated oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Enchiladas may be reheated, covered with aluminum foil.

My mother used to make this dish and she always used white cheese, which kind of differentiates it from the classic Cheddar that is usually grated over red enchiladas.

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