Makes:8 enchiladas; serves 4 |
Prep Time:30 minutes
Every time I go to Mexico, I learn something new about enchiladas. Which is great, since I could spend my life eating and “studying” enchiladas. A hundred years ago (or so it seems), I worked on a cookbook with a Mexican chef who taught me the time-honored way of frying the tortillas before dipping them into sauce and filling them (the New York Times has a great version). Then a few years ago at Rancho La Puerta, I learned to lighten things up by dipping the tortillas in warm sauce instead of frying them and my green chicken enchiladas recipe was born. Then on a trip to Mexico last week I was served the lightest, brightest green enchiladas ever and I realized they weren’t even baked! The tortillas were softened in sauce, filled with chicken and ladled with more sauce right on the plate. Genius!
So I lightened up my lightened-up recipe: I poached the chicken quickly in broth, made an easy salsa verde and didn’t turn on the oven. I softened each tortilla in warm sauce, filled it with chicken and topped it with more sauce and toppings. The toppings are essential, so don’t skimp on them (at a minimum, you need the queso). These are assembled one by one and you can make as many as you need then keep the components in the fridge to do it again the next day. Or set up an assembly line and crank them out for a bigger group.
Or buy roasted chicken and green enchilada sauce and assemble the recipe from those. Or buy enchiladas from a Mexican-owned business. That may be the best and easiest thing of all.
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 can (about 12 oz) tomatillos, drained, or 12 oz fresh tomatillos [see note below]
2 green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1 or 2 limes
8 corn tortillas (6- to 7-inch size)
crumbled queso fresco or cotija (or feta, if you can’t find those)
Mexican crema, sour cream or regular plain yogurt, optional
shredded lettuce, optional
thinly sliced radishes, optional
Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise. In a wide pan with a cover, combine chicken, broth and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil, covered. Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate with tongs and set aside to cool; save the broth in the pan.
While chicken is cooling, make the sauce by putting the drained tomatillos, green onions, canned chiles, cilantro and reserved broth from pan in a blender. Squeeze in the juice of one lime. Cover and blend until smooth. Taste the sauce then add more salt or lime juice as needed. Set aside.
When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into large chunks. Then shred the chunks with your fingers into pieces about 1-inch in size. (Sauce and chicken can be cooked up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate separately until ready to use.)
To assemble each serving, pour a cup of sauce into the bottom of an 8-inch skillet. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat. With tongs, place a tortilla in the sauce and let it simmer for 30 seconds; turn it over and let it simmer 30 seconds more. Lift out the tortilla with the tongs and let the excess sauce drip back into skillet. Place softened tortilla on a dinner plate and put a spoonful of chicken down the center (if chicken was chilled, warm in a microwave first). Roll tortilla around filling, then roll it over seam side down. Repeat with another tortilla and filling, placing it close to the other one on plate. Ladle the remaining warm sauce in the pan over the enchiladas then garnish with the queso fresco and any other toppings you want. Repeat with remaining sauce, tortillas, chicken and toppings to make as many enchiladas as you need. Eat right away.
note: canned tomatillos are easy to find if you visit a Mexican market, and some supermarkets carry them. If you find fresh ones instead, buy 12 ounces and peel off the papery husks. Drop tomatillos into a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes to soften, then drain and use as directed above.