Chicken Enchiladas with Hatch Tomatillo Salsa

September 27, 2015

Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes
Hands on time: 1 hour

Oh, enchiladas, carnitas and fish tacos. Where have you been all my life? I adore Mexican food so much that I think in another time, I must have been Hispanic. My name is Carla, is it not? How far removed from Carlita can I be?

Eating Mexican food in a restaurant is okay, but I’m especially happy when making my favorite Mexican dishes at home where I’m the boss of the flavors. This is bright and happy food and I say, if you want to have a bright and happy life, eat bright and happy food. Make sense?

So let’s talk about chicken enchiladas with hatch tomatillo salsa. I love it first because it’s delicious, but secondly because this is really a casserole that can be made ahead, kind of like a Mexican lasagna of sorts. So, even though it takes a bit of organization to assemble, it’s easy to pop in the oven at a later date and serve to the multitudes. And even though I often make corn tortillas, the good news here is that you don’t need to go to that trouble. Store bought tortillas will be just as tasty. Oh, and what about the chicken? Buy the rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. There’s two steps saved.

The green salsa is the star of this show and roasting the vegetables under the broiler is a no-brainer. It actually comes together and is delish in a very, very simple way. Toss together the filling once the salsa is made. If you have a friend or two to help shred the chicken, better yet.

Frying up the tortillas ensures a savory, moist dish. I know you want to skip this step but please don’t. It is a little messy, not going to lie, but it makes all the difference in the end. Remember, a dry enchilada is not a thing of beauty.

So, forthwith, I advise you to make these enchiladas next weekend. No, this isn’t a one pan meal and there are a few steps, but it’s still a not so complicated dish that you are capable of making if you have just a little extra time on your hands. And by the way,  you will never find a dish this good in a restaurant. So, put on your favorite playlist and get cooking. Olé.

Salsa

3 lbs tomatillos, paper shells discarded and stickiness rinsed away
5 hatch or poblano chilies
5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 yellow onion, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1 serrano chili
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat broiler with rack on second highest position.

Arrange the tomatillo, hatch chilies, garlic, onion and serrano chili on a sheet pan and broil until blackened. Turn the vegetables over to blacken the other side, about 10 minutes total. The tomatillos should be juicy. Transfer the hatch chilies to a bowl, cover with plastic and when cool enough to handle, peel the blackened skin away from the flesh and discard the seeds. Peel the paper from the garlic.

Combine all the roasted vegetables and their juices in the bowl of a food processor along with the cilantro, cumin, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Process to a chunky sauce. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if it needs it. If too thick, blend in a little water. Pour 1 cup into a wide shallow bowl and set the rest aside.

Filling

2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
In a large bowl combine the cheese, cream, chicken and 1 cup of the salsa. Taste and season with salt and pepper or
more salsa if it needs it.

Enchillada assembly

1/4 cup vegetable oil
15 corn tortillas (6-inch)
1 cup Cotija cheese
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup sour cream mixed with 1 tablespoon lime juice and 2 tablespoons milk
Pickled red onion (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a 9-by 13-inch pan, spread about 1 cup of the salsa over the bottom.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot and using tongs, fry the tortillas on both sides until pliable, about 10 seconds total. Allow some of the oil to drain back into the pan before dipping it into the salsa in the shallow bowl then transfer to a sheet pan. Careful that you don’t tear the tortillas. Do this with about 5 of the tortillas then fill them each with about 1/4 cup of the filling, roll them up and arrange them in the prepared pan. Then follow up with the remaining tortillas in the same way. Pour the remaining salsa over the top to cover.

Cover the pan with foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes or until hot all the way through.

Remove the enchiladas from the oven and top with the Cotija cheese, cilantro, a drizzle of sour cream and the pickled onions. Serve hot.

If you’re looking for an easy dessert to serve with this meal how about fresh, bright, caramel oranges.

Make-ahead: You can assemble the dish and keep it refrigerated for up to one day ahead. If baking it off cold from the fridge, add about 10 minutes to the covered cooking time.

Pickled onions

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced

While the enchiladas bake, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a microwave safe bowl large enough to hold the onion as well and microwave until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot, about 2 minutes. Immediately add the onion and stir for moment as the onion begins to soften and break down. Push it under the liquid and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Drain and use as directed or keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

In the glass: A Corona long neck (or two or three).

In my ears: It’s Cuban music, but really works for me Buena Vista Social Club

 

 

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