I am a complete and utter sucker for gorgeous produce, which is why when I saw bright green, fresh tomatillos at my supermarket this weekend, I couldn’t pass them by.
The tomatillos screamed “enchiladas!!” and even though I once had a really horrible enchilada experience in Mexico that involved enchiladas and a long bus ride, I decided to give them another chance.
The result was ah-mazing. I made sure of this by making them twice and handing out enchiladas to 3 families in my neighborhood to get their feedback. The comments were overwhelmingly positive, including one that said ‘this tastes like something that I would eat in a restaurant’. Even The Critic said ‘these are in your top 10 recipes’.
In other words? You’ve got to try these. Or, move into my neighborhood. Anyone?
After looking at a bunch of enchilada recipes for some inspiration, I decided to do my own thing and see what happened. I had the tomatillos, some corn tortillas (not that easy to come by in Toronto), tons of cilantro (essential), and 4 types of dried chiles that I had used in the winter for a chili. I was all set.
I roasted the tomatillos and onion first for a smokier taste, then used a chile negro, which I found at Whole Foods, for its mild heat and rich flavor. Rehydrate your chile by pouring boiling water over it and letting it sit for a few minutes. Then peel the pepper away from the seeds and stem to use in the dish.
I used cheddar for the first rendition of this recipe, which I actually liked better than the traditional Monterey Jack that’s usually used in enchiladas. I find Jack cheese a bit too mild for a dish like this, but sharp cheddar stands up well to the bold flavors. You can use either.
To make things quicker and easier, I simply used a rotisserie chicken that I bought at the grocery store. I sat and took all the meat off, which took me about 10-15 mins and can be done while the tomatillos are roasting.
Instead of rolling the tortillas for the enchiladas, I layered them. The reason is because while I was quartering the tomatillos for the first try of this recipe, I completely sliced my thumb and was almost bleeding out for the entire time I was cooking. Try rolling hot chicken into corn tortillas while your thumb is bleeding through a Band-Aid and throbbing with pain. Right. Wasn’t happening. Happily, layering the tortillas worked really well and I think is far easier than rolling – and trying to get the stuffed tortillas to stay rolled.
The recipe is a bit of a time investment, because of the roasting of the tomatillos and onion that takes 30 minutes, and the baking of the assembled dish which is another 30 minutes. Otherwise, it’s pretty simple.
Serves 6 really hungry people
2.5lb tomatillos, unhusked and rinsed, quartered
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/8ths
2T olive oil
4 cups shredded chicken – about 1 large rotisserie chicken’s worth
2 garlic cloves
2 cups cilantro leaves, packed
1 dried chile negro, rehydrated and stem and seeds removed
12 corn tortillas
2 cups sharp cheddar or Jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
1T lime juice
Preheat oven to 350F
Toss the tomatillos and onion with the olive oil and roast on a baking sheet at 350F for 30 minutes. Let cool.
Combine the tomatillos and onion, garlic, cilantro, and the chile in a blender and blend until mostly smooth. You should have around 5.5 cups. Add enough water to make 6 cups of the mixture (water should be ½-3/4 cup at the most). This is your sauce.
In a small bowl, mix the sour cream and lime juice and set aside. This is your lime crema.
In a large lasagna dish, pour a thin layer of sauce, then layer 6 tortillas on top of the sauce. Add a bit more sauce, then layer all of the chicken on top of that. Layer 1 cup of the cheese, then the sour cream and lime mixture on top of the chicken. Layer another 6 tortillas on top of the sour cream, then spread the rest of the sauce on top of those tortillas and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
Got that? It’s:
1 cup cheese
1 cup cheese
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Remove and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. This is the perfect dish to freeze for later!