Friday, July 9, 2010

The Whole Enchilada

We had quite a bit of smoked chicken remaining from this weekend, and have enjoyed eating leftovers.  We both agreed that chicken enchiladas would be especially nice to make.  Back in Texas, my frequent enchilada order is chicken enchiladas with green sauce, but I'd never made it at home.  I thought it was about time.

I did a little research in my cookbooks and online, but I was not totally satisfied by the recipes we found.  So I decided to just create our own recipe using tomatillos and jalapenos for the green sauce.  Several recipes suggested boiling the tomatillos for the sauce, but I thought roasting would create a better flavor.

What are tomatillos?  Tomatillos are related to tomatoes and in the nightshade family.  It is a fruit surrounded by a husk with a tart flavor.  They are not the same as green or unripe tomatoes.

Here's what we did...

Smoked Chicken Enchilada with Verde (Green) Sauce
Makes 14 enchiladas

1 1/2 lbs of tomatillos, husked
1 white onion, peeled and sliced into large pieces
1 - 3 jalapenos (your preference)
3 cloves of garlic
olive oil for drizzling
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 cups of smoked chicken, picked in small pieces
1 1/2 cups sour cream
14 corn tortillas
1 Tbsp canola oil
at least 1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded

First, you need to roast the tomatillos, onions, and jalapenos for the sauce.  Place whole tomatillos, whole jalapenos, whole garlic cloves, and roughly chopped onions on a baking sheet.

Drizzle very lightly with olive oil and place in preheated 400 degree F. oven for about 12 minutes.

Transfer roasted fruit and veggies to a food processor, after chopping off the stems of the jalapenos.  Add cumin, salt, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined, but still chunky.

Put a generous portion of the green sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with sides.  You will use another generous portion to put on the top of the rolled enchiladas.

Now heat 1 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft and carmelized.

Add finely chopped garlic and cook for about 1 more minute.  Now, add chicken and cook until warm and stir until well-blended.  Take off heat, and let cool slightly.  Then, fold sour cream into chicken mixture.

Turn oven down to 375 degrees F.

Now, to get the corn tortillas ready and begin assembly of enchiladas...Lightly heat the canola oil in a cast iron skillet.  Place each corn tortilla in the just warmed oil and make sure both sides are lightly coated in oil.  Then drain over a cooling rack or on paper towels.  You want the oil to soften the tortillas and make them pliable, but not make them soggy with oil.

Once a tortilla is prepped, you want to put about 2 Tbsp of chicken filling in the center (more if your tortillas are larger) and roll it up like a thick cigar.

Place each rolled tortilla in a baking dish with the green sauce on the bottom, seam side down.  My husband recommends rolling against the grain of the tortilla to help them hold together better.  You can kinda see the lines/grain of the tortillas in this picture.

They should fit together snugly.  We got 14 enchiladas in the baking dish.

Once your dish is full, lightly cover with green sauce and shredded cheese.  If you have leftover green sauce, it makes a delicious salsa with tortilla chips.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until bubbly.  You can garnish with more sour cream and even cilantro, if you like.

We served with refried beans and spanish rice, as you would expect in a Tex-Mex restaurant.


  1. next time, i will go with you on a hunt for anaheim chilis aka new mexican peppers, makes salsa verde even tastier.