Thursday, July 23, 2015

Food Storage Chicken Enchiladas


Last summer we raised and butchered 75 chickens.  We live off-grid with solar power, which is limited.  We had no refrigerator at all until a few years ago, and now we have a small 'dorm/college' fridge, which has a freezer about big enough for a pair of shoes (sorry.... that's what came to mind!).  So I canned the chickens.  We butchered them in batches of fifteen so that I could get each batch processed before the next were butchered.

It's somewhat daunting to look at more than 70 jars of canned chicken and figure out a variety of ways to use them.  Some of our favorites are chicken & dumplings, chicken pot pie, and chicken chunk gravy over homemade bread and mashed potatoes.  Those get boring after a while, so I have started asking friends for ideas.

One day on the phone with my friend, Rusty, I mentioned this to him.  He rattled off a few ideas.  One of them was enchiladas, and I realized that I could make them entirely from what I had on hand in my food storage. 

Some of the ingredients for my food storage enchiladas
Left to right:
Home-canned cheese
Home-canned cream cheese
Store-bought tomato sauce
Flour in the container in the rear.
Home-canned salsa
Store-bought sea salt
Home-canned chicken
Not in the picture is the coconut oil and (aluminum-free) baking powder I used in the tortillas and the taco seasoning I buy in large jars.  Also not pictured is the home-dried onions I reconstituted and sprinkled on the top with the cheese.
The first job in this project was to make the tortillas.  I mixed 1 3/4 cups of flour, half a teaspoon of salt, and a quarter teaspoon of baking powder, then mashed a quarter cup of coconut oil into it with a fork.  A pastry blender works too.  Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature and looks much like shortening.
I added half a cup of warm water and used the fork to mix it until a sticky ball formed, then added a little flour at a time, working the dough with my hands.  When it was no longer sticky I divided it into eight equal-sized balls, first by dividing it in half, then half again, then half one more time.  I rolled them into balls and flattened them with my hands, then used my rolling pin to roll them out as thin as I could.  Do this on a floured surface so you can get them up off of the rolling surface. 
They should be thin enough to almost be transparent, but the worst that will happen if you don't get them super-thin is that they'll be about the thickness of the crust of "Hot Pockets" that you buy in the freezer section of the grocery store. 

Next each tortilla needs to be briefly fried.  Put them one by one in an ungreased skillet and cook them for a minute or two on each side.  Then set them aside.
Grab a bowl and make the filling.  I used a jar of chicken meat in these enchiladas but you can use ground beef or any other meat, or just make them with beans and no meat.  I mixed the chicken meat with a jar of cream cheese in place of the sour cream I would have dabbed on top of the enchiladas if I had fresh sour cream.  The cream cheese gives the filling (even just beans) a nice tangy flavor.  I also stirred in half a jar of shredded home-canned cheddar cheese.
For information on canning cheese see this post:

Then I stirred in the jar of homemade salsa.  One by one I laid a tortilla in my (greased) cake pan and spooned filling into them, then rolled them up, placing them side by side as I filled the pan.  I've gotten pretty good at guessing how much filling to put in each one, but if you're not sure and you want to make them equal, you can lay the tortillas out all over the counter or table.  Then spoon the filling onto them until each one has about the same amount of filling.  At that point you can roll them up and place them in a baking pan, side by side. 
In another bowl I mix the tomato sauce and a couple tablespoons of taco seasoning.  You can add more or less seasoning according to how spicy you want it to be.  I buy salt-free tomato sauce and add a little sea salt when I cook.  In our climate it's a luxury to get enough tomatoes out of the garden to make our own tomato sauce, but I would sure love to be able to.
Pour or spoon the sauce over the tortillas.  I sprinkled rehydrated chopped onions over the sauce.  You can sprinkle the cheese on now, or you can hold off on the cheese and go ahead and bake it for half an hour at 350 degrees, then add the cheese for 10 or 15 minutes.  If you put the cheese on right away you should cover the pan with foil so the cheese won't turn dark brown and crispy.  Remove the foil for the last ten or fifteen minutes.  Total baking time is about 40 to 45 minutes at 350.  Ovens vary so check them a few times when they're almost done.
Allow to cool for five minutes, then serve!  It's a delicious meal that you can make from your food storage.  If you have questions about techniques or recipes for canning or dehydrating the ingredients for this recipe please ask.
Please leave comments or questions below or email them to me at:
I would also welcome more ideas for what to make with all this canned chicken!!!


  1. This sounds delicious! Also I will note that coconut oil does not taste like coconut when you cook with it. Do you use it for the health benefits?

    1. You're right, the coconut oil does not taste like coconut when you cook with it. Yes, I use it for it's health benefits. My three main oils are coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, and sesame seed oil, all of which have different uses and different temperature ranges they are best for. The coconut oil is safe to use at high heat, so I use it in baking and frying.

    2. Thank you for commenting, I couldn't figure out how to get back in to my reply and say thank you!


  2. You could us the chicken to make tamales, also never thought of coconut oil for tortilla, I bet it would work in the tamale masa also.

    1. The coconut oil does make very good tortillas!

      I hope to try to make chicken tamales some time. I have never made tamale anything from scratch before, so any tips from anyone would be welcome! :)



  3. Late to the party lol but I make enchilada casserole with beans, chicken, rice, enchiladas sauce and cheese. Also chicken and broccoli casserole, chicken ala king, chicken and stuffing, and chicken burritos. Plus chiChen fried rice and chicken egg roll bowl

  4. One day I created a dish that has become a staple in our home. I spread leftover cooked chicken across the bottom of a baking dish and mixed chopped onions, bell pepper, bacon, mushrooms, grated cheese with 3-4 eggs, garlic powder and black pepper. Spread this mixture across the chicken and bake uncovered about 30 minutes. Until the egg is cooked and cheese is melted. I usually serve this dish with twice baked potatoes and mixed veggies.

    1. Wow, that sounds delicious! I look forward to trying that soon! Thanks!