Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas Verde

I grew up in the Texas Hill Country just an hour's drive from San Antonio and my family ate a lot of Mexican food. While my meal of choice was regularly the cheese enchilada dinner, when I was in college at Texas A&M I learned to love chicken enchiladas verde. The tang of the tomatillos and the heat of the serrano peppers is such a great contrast to the cool of the chicken filling.

When I left College Station and moved to Dallas, I was surprised to discover that North Texan Mexican restaurants didn't have chicken enchiladas verde as an option. They instead served their chicken enchiladas with a sour cream sauce. Fortunately, I found this recipe in the Dallas Dish cookbook so that I can enjoy my beloved chicken enchiladas verde once more.

While this recipe can be a little time intensive, the verde sauce could easily be made up to a day ahead of time which would shorten the cooking time considerably if you wanted to serve this for guests to dinner. Also, I find that I can't fit all the enchiladas in one baking pan, so I typically freeze the second pan of enchiladas to cook at a later date.

24 tomatillos
6 serrano peppers
3 cups chicken broth
  cilantro, chopped
2 T corn starch

Remove the tomatillos from their husks, rinse and place in a large sauce pan.
Trim the stems off the serrano peppers and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds from 4 of the 6 peppers. (If a milder spice is desired, remove the seeds from 5 or all of the peppers)
Add the serranos to the tomatillos in the sauce pot and cover with the 3 cups of chicken broth
Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes.
While the mixture is boiling, combine the 2 tablespoons of corn starch with a small amount of water, just enough to create a smooth mixture.
Add the cornstarch to the tomatillos, peppers and broth.
Add the cilantro as well.
Stir to combine and incorporate the corn starch and cilantro into the mixture.
Boil for 5 more minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, let the sauce cool for a few minutes and transfer to a blender in batches to puree.
The final sauce should be smooth. If making ahead of time, place in a air tight container and refrigerate up to one day until use.

1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 t chili powder
1 t cumin
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t paprika
1/4 t cayenne
1 t olive oil
12-16 small corn tortillas
6 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Combine the spices in a ramekin to form a rub.
Place the chicken in a small baking dish, top with the olive oil.
Sprinkle the spice mix on the chicken and rub into the chicken.
Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through.
When done, let cool then shred with two forks. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl combine the cream cheese and half and half.
Whisk until smooth and fluffy.
Add the chicken and the onion to the cream cheese mixture.
Combine to create the filling for the enchiladas.
Assemble on the counter all the elements for the enchilada assembly: filling, sauce, 9x13 baking pan, tortillas and cheese.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of the verde sauce.
Take a tortilla and top with about a 1/4 cup of the filling.
Roll up and place in the baking sheet seam side down.
Repeat until the baking sheet is filled. Top with verde sauce.
Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with cheese.
Replace to the oven and bake for 5 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Serve with rice and beans and enjoy!
Source: adapted from Dallas Dish

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