Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Mexican food is oh-so-delicous but eating out in Mexican restaurants almost always equals 1000+ calorie plates. I think a lot of the calories come from the rice and beans though, because I calculated every ingredient that went into these babies and they come out at a cool 250 calories per enchilada. That's pretty awesome, right?

It is a bit time consuming to make these and will set you back a couple hours so its probably best to make them on a weekend when you have more time. Otherwise you'll have to be content with eating a bit later than usual. But trust me, your family will not mind once they taste these enchiladas filled with chicken, tomatillo sauce and a light sprinkling of monterey jack cheese. Serve with rice and beans, if you want to make them or just some steamed vegetables.

I've decided to do this post in a more step-by-step basis so it's a lot easier to follow along - and so you can see how each step looks. The timeline may be a bit daunting but it's as easy as putting a sandwich together. I've used an entire deli chicken before (like the kind you can get hot from Albertsons/Ralphs/Costco) but this time I had four large poached chicken breasts on hand so I just used those instead as they came out to almost 3 pounds. Boyfriend didn't enjoy poached chicken so I had to think fast to find another way he'd be willing to eat them - bam! chicken enchiladas it was!

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa
adapted from Tyler Florence

Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa
2 lb tomatillos, husked
2 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole
8 garlic cloves
2 jalapeno, seeds removed if you want it less spicy (use 4 if you like more spice)
4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime, juiced

Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, storebought
Chopped cilantro leaves
1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 lbs), boned and meat shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 14 medium corn torillas or 10 large flour tortillas
1/2 lb Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Garnish: sour cream, chopped tomatoes, cilantro leaves, avocado

First, make the tomatillo sauce. Preheat oven to 400F. Remove the paper-y husks from the tomatillos and give them a quick rinse. Put the tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos into a baking dish and drizzle with a couple tablespoons of oil, just enough to give everything a light coating so they don't burn in the oven. Roast for about 1 hour, stirring once halfway through. The tomatillos should be soft and bursting a bit.

While the tomatillos are roasting, take time and shred your chicken if you have not done so already. Also grate your cheese through the large holes of the box grater.

Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky. You may have to do this in two batches (I did because my food processor is smaller); if so, split the spices and cilantro evenly between each batch.

Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized - this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for a further minute.

Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn then gradually add the chicken stock to make a veloute, which is a sort of velvety sauce. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. The sauce should look thick when a ladle is dragged through it.

Turn off the heat, add three cups of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro (about 1/2 cup) and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Change the temperature of the oven to 350F and begin assembling the dish. Heat a medium pan over medium-high meat and warm torillas on both sides until lightly browned and pliable (if you don't do this then the tortillas will break when you try to roll them). Additionally (only if you are using corn tortillas, this doesn't work with flour tortillas) you can fry them lightly in oil but that adds WAY too many calories and I don't think it made a discernable difference when I did it once. Take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa.

Set up your work station by having a cutting board in front of you, the pan of chicken with tomatillo salsa, the bowl of shredded cheese and the sauce smeared baking dish all in front of you. Then wash your hands (hygiene, people!) and roll up your sleeves, because this will get a bit messy.

Using a shallow bowl, coat each tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix. Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it. Using a spatula place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas.

Finally pour over some more of the salsa and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish with your choice of cilantro, tomato, sour cream and avocado. Or anything else you like - jelly beans, soy sauce, etc. Whatever.

Ta-da! You are totally finsihed. Using the smaller corn torillas and stuffing them to the max, I was able to make 14 enchiladas. If you use the larger flour tortillas then you will probably make 10-11. Bake them right away or put them in the refrigerator and just pop them in the oven the next day for a quick dinner. I made nine in one pan and five in another, which I gave to Sona and her husband. Enjoy!


  1. Looks delicious! I'll have to try this sometime. - Jinra

  2. Armen loved it and is now waiting for me to make them :) It was super good! Thank you! ~ Sona