19 February 2004
Traditions are customs or beliefs handed down through a family and sometimes created without even realizing it. The routines or foods shared when we come together are repeated and become a part of who we are. A detail made clear, a few weeks ago, as my daughters and I shopped for groceries the day before our Super Bowl gathering. As we grabbed chips, dips, sodas, baked beans, chicken, and barbeque sauce, one of my daughters said, "Don't forget the ingredients for 'Mom's ChickenEnchiladas'." I never realized, until then, that it had become a traditional dish served at all our family functions.
As we continued shopping, we gathered everything needed for our entrÃÂ©e: 10 pounds of chicken leg/thigh quarters, 3 8-ounce bags of mixed cheddar/monterey jack shredded cheese, 1 large and 1 medium yellow onion, 4 4-ounce cans of chopped green chilies, 4 4-ounce cans of sliced olives, 2 16-ounce cans of enchilada sauce, and 3 dozen small corn tortillas.
I knew what was needed, even without a list, since I created the recipe and have been cooking it for years. The only time I vary from my original recipe is when I am short on time. When this happens, I purchase cooked chicken from my local store's deli. Since we shopped the day before our party, I had plenty of time to start from scratch.
Boil the 10 pounds of chicken and the large onion in a big pot of water. Cook until the chicken falls apart. Drain the water and put the chicken in a large covered bowl where it will sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning, debone the chicken. In a large mixing bowl combine chicken, diced medium onion, chopped green chilies, sliced olives,