Mystery solved!

I week or so ago, after what can only be described as a significantly extensive delay, I made chicken enchiladas. I had actually baked the chicken while Katie was here (she left mid-January), intending to prepare and serve the enchiladas while the five of us were all present. I am pretty sure we all like them, and in our family it’s rare to find anything (food, games, habits) that everyone likes. The only hold-up was that I first needed to shred the chicken. Shredding chicken is a bit of a time-consuming pain, and I had eight breasts to shred, so I kept putting it off. After they had sat in the fridge for a few days and I realized I just wasn’t going to get around to shredding them, I moved them to the freezer, and then between spending precious time with kids, traveling to Minnesota for surgery, and having less energy than usual for several weeks thereafter, they stayed frozen and ignored.

But one day I got industrious and pulled them out. I armed myself with cutting board, monster fork, and podcasts, and tackled the chicken. Eight shredded breasts later, I decided to go ahead and assemble the enchiladas, and when I did, I realized that when I baked those guys so many weeks ago, I had planned to shred the four cups’ worth that I needed for enchiladas and cube the rest for other recipes. Oh, well. It turns out that I now had eight cups of shredded chicken. I shoved four cups’ worth into a big zip-loc and returned them to the freezer, and I used the other four cups’ worth to, at long last, make the ever-lovin’ chicken enchiladas.

My doubled recipe made four pans of five each, plus one big pan of eight, and I baked one of the small pans for our dinner that night.

We all sat down, thanked God for the enchiladas, cheese dip, chips, and homemade salsa, and dug in. While I slowly savored some chips and salsa, the guys started saying things like “Wow. That’s spicy.” And “Pretty hot!” And “Did you change the recipe? These are a lot, um, ‘warmer’ than usual.”

And I assumed they just didn’t know what they were talking about. I took a bite of my enchilada, and it tasted about the same as always. Josiah said, “Well? Did it hit you yet?”

“Uh. . . no,” I replied, chewing, but then suddenly my mouth was absolutely on fire! I grabbed my water bottle and chug-a-lugged for all I was worth.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I knew I had made them exactly as I always do, so why on earth were they so exceedingly, unbearably hot? I pulled out the recipe and reviewed it. Had I somehow doubled something I shouldn’t have? Well, doggone it, even if I had blown it, we weren’t about to throw away all the money spent buying the ingredients or all my time spent making them. We’d just have to eat them over time. And we had four plus more meals of them in the freezer, all just as scalding hot. Sigh.

So much for that nice meal.

The only thing I could think was that I must’ve somehow put in too many cans of chopped green chilies. I thought sure I had only put in the required two, but maybe I put in four by accident. . . ? If so, there wouldn’t be any left on the canned goods shelf in the playroom, because I always buy them four at a time. I left the table to check the playroom stock, and, lo and behold, the mystery was solved! There, right in front of God and everyone, were two cans of chopped green chilies, but when I looked more closely at the labels, they both said, “CHOPPED Fire Roasted GREEN CHILIES.” Aha! No wonder we all had steam coming out our ears.

I later called my friend, Tracy, who is known for her love of all things Mexican and spicy, and asked if she or anyone she knew would be interested in chicken enchiladas that are guaranteed to clear your sinuses and everything else on the way down. She said she had such friends and she would love to take them off our hands. So I will take those to her. In the meantime, still having in my freezer an extra four cups of shredded chicken, on my next Wal-Mart run I purposed to buy the rest of the items (that I don’t keep stocked) needed to make an edible double batch:

30 flour tortillas. . . check

16 oz. Mexican blend shredded cheese. . . check

2 cans black beans. . . check

1 large can green enchilada sauce. . . check

2 small cans chopped green chilies. . . uh, not so simple.

EVERY can of Great Value brand (read “cheap”) chopped green chilies said “Fire Roasted.” So THAT’S what had gone wrong! I have bought Great Value chopped green chilies for years and years, so I must’ve just grabbed them off the shelf as usual, without noticing the small “Fire Roasted” comment on the label. [Note: When I shared this story with Katie, she said that maybe the error wasn’t my fault at all. While she was home for a month over Christmas break, she did some of our grocery shopping for me, and maybe she grabbed the four cans of grossly overheated chilies.] I would have to go with a more expensive brand, but get this. There were four brands of chopped green chilies on the shelves, and three of those brands offered ONLY the “Fire Roasted” version. I ended up buying brand #4, “Hatch,” whose chopped green chilies were marked “Mild.”

And I made 28 more enchiladas and put them all in the freezer. We will probably try them in a couple weeks, and we all expect that they will be deliciously edible.


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