Tomatillo Enchiladas

Tomatillo EnchiladasThe Whole Enchilada
On average, I roast chicken at least once a week—and I never roast fewer than two. The main reasons for that are about to turn 17 in in a couple of weeks. But, the real motivation is having leftover cooked chicken opens the door to many different dinner ideas. My favorite? Enchiladas!

I was shocked to note that I have never written about making enchiladas before, because I make them a lot. Enchiladas are a no-brainer weeknight meal usually made with whatever I have on hand. This means they are not the same every time. I almost always go without a recipe. Sometimes I roll ’em. Sometimes I stack ‘em. It all depends on how many tortillas I have. Sometimes the enchiladas are rojo and sometimes they are verde, but they are always exactly what the doctor ordered. I also like any leftovers the next morning with scrambled eggs. Kind of like a crazy version of Chilaquiles.

If I was forced to choose, I would say that I prefer the verde version. There’s just something about the green chili, cheese, chicken, and sour cream combo that is just right. There is no shortage of recipes available online for whatever version you decide to try. The can be complicated or super-easy depending on your schedule and enthusiasm level. Making your own sauce produces fantastic results. But, that doesn’t mean the jarred or canned stuff can’t be just as good. For me, I like it somewhere in the middle. A little bit of homemade combined with the easy-open.

Today, I’m going with my favorite recipe from Rick Bayless. I like to mix some shredded cheese together with the chicken for the filling. But, you can do it however you want to. Making the sauce yourself means eating a few minutes later and it’s worth it…

Tomatillo Enchiladas Recipe
Adapted from Rick Bayless
Yields 4 servings

For the Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
1 pound tomatillos (about 8 medium)
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 or 2 fresh Serrano chilies
1 small white onion
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

For the enchiladas
2-3/4 cups (12 ounces) cooked, coarsely shredded, boneless chicken, pork or beef (for a vegetarian version, substitute the meat with 3 cups of shredded Mexican melting cheese or Monterey Jack.
8 corn tortillas
Dollops of Mexican crema or sour cream
A handful of shredded Mexican melting cheese or Monterey Jack
A handful of cilantro leaves

Make the Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Prep the veggies
Husk and rinse the tomatillos, cut the white onion into 1/2 inch thick slices, and coarsely chop the cilantro. Set aside some onion slices for the garnish.

Roast the tomatillos
Preheat the broiler. Spread the tomatillos, garlic, Serano chiles and the small white onion slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Slide the baking sheet up as close under the preheated broiler as possible. Roast until the vegetables are softening and developing some black char (about 4 or 5 minutes). Turn the vegetables and roast the other side until everything is cooked through (they should be soft and charred). Place the roasted veggies on the stove top to cool.

Make the tomatillo base
When the vegetables have cooled down enough to handle, slip the skins off the garlic and pull the stem from the chiles. In a blender, combine the tomatillos, garlic, chiles, onion, a scant teaspoon salt, and any juice on the baking sheet. Blend everything to a coarse puree.

Finish the sauce
Set a large (10-inch) skillet over medium-high heat and measure the oil. When the is hot enough to shimmer, add the roasted tomatillo sauce base. Allow the sauce reduce and concentrate while stirring it frequently (about 4 minutes). When the base is thicker than spaghetti sauce, stir in the broth and cilantro. Season the sauce with salt to taste, turn the heat down to medium-low, and allow it to simmer while you prepare the filling.

Prepare the tortillas
Preheat the oven to 400 ºF. Spray or brush one side of each tortilla with oil. Then stack them up, slip them into a plastic bag, fold it over to close and microwave the tortillas at 100% for 1 minute. Allow them to stand for a minute to uniformly distribute the heat.

Prepare the filling
In the mean time, stir some sauce into the meat to moisten it (the vegetarian cheese version needs no sauce). Add 2/3 of the grated cheese to the meat mixture and stir to combine.

Assemble the enchilada casserole
Lay the tortillas out on the counter and top each with a portion cup of the meat mixture or cheese, roll them up and assemble them to fit into a 13″ x 9″ baking dish.

Spoon the hot sauce over them making certain to cover the whole tortilla to avoid dry ends. Slide the baking dish into the oven and bake just until heated through—about 4 minutes. Overcooking will make mushy tortillas.

Garnish the enchiladas with the toppings: Mexican crema, reserved grated cheese, reserved white onion slices, and cilantro leaves.

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