Thursday, April 9, 2009

My Italian Grandmother goes Mexican - Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde


I'm not going to lie. My Italian Grandmother would probably never have gone Mexican. She wasn't into eating any cuisines other than Italian. Chinese food was the only acception and that was pretty much limited to lo mein, wonton soup and chicken with broccoli. She was old school, what can I say. I thought it would be nice for her to watch me though, so I brought her (photo) into the kitchen with me.

I'm usually a big cheater when it comes to Mexican dishes. I'm not afraid to admit that I've made tacos from a box or enchiladas with a seasoning pack. Honestly, it's fine for me because Mexican food isn't as near and dear to my heart as Italian food is. You'll never catch me cheating there (unless it's with a jar of roasted peppers or canned beans), I always make my sauce from scratch because that's what I know and it comes easy to me. Tonight I thought it would be nice to make enchiladas the real way. Okay, I did cheat a little but I work full time and I don't like eating very late at night. If you need more excuses, let me me know! ;-)

I picked up some tomatillos during my Fairway excursion on Friday. I have seen Chef's on The Food Network use them many times and I have been quite curious. I am pleased to say that I am definitely a fan! This salsa was the perfect combination of tangy and spicy. I did leave out the cilantro because it just hasn't grown on me yet. I can deal with it in small doses but I didn't see the point in buying a whole bunch if I'm only going to use a little bit. My cheating came from using a store bought rotisserie chicken. It's what the recipe called for and I was more than happy to oblige. You can use any leftover chicken for this recipe or you can poach a bit of your own with some cumin and any spices you like.

The recipe called for 10 large flour tortillas. I bought the biggest I could find and I made four of them and the rest I put in the fridge for tomorrow. I would have cooked them all but I didn't have enough tomatillo salsa or cheese. I bought 5 tomatillos so that was probably a little less than a pound so it would have made more sauce if I had the full pound but I can't imagine it making that much of a difference. I used one bag of shredded Mexican cheese and I could have used more to top the four that I made and I don't think I was heavy with the cheese. So keep that in mind if you do make this recipe from the original. I almost forgot...I was lazy and I did not toast the tortillas. Don't be like me! Steve thought they would be better if toasted and I trust him with this! I would definitely make this again. Maybe I would even make the salsa and freeze it or refrigerate it for use at a later date.

You can find this recipe in it's entirety here.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Adapted from Tyler Florence



5 tomatillos, husked
1 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapenos
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves or parsley
1/2 lime, juiced


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. 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.


Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, storebought
Chopped cilantro leaves or parsley
1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded
4 large (burrito size) flour tortillas
1 package of shredded 4 cheese Mexican cheese mix (plus a little more if you like it cheesy)
sour cream, for serving
Chopped tomatoes and cilantro leaves, for garnish


Heat 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. Add the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn then gradually add the chicken stock. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add half of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Turn oven temperature down to 350 degrees F and begin assembling the dish. Take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Now take the flour tortillas and briefly flash them over the stove-top flame (or put them briefly under the broiler if using an electric stove). 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, cilantro and tomato and sour cream.









Lucy said...

Wonderful enchiladas, I could sink my fork into this so easily! My DH on the other hand he's not a fan if too spicy, so the girls & I occasionally go to local Mexican restaurants for a fix... LOL!!

Theresa said...

They look great. Nanny was watching. My DH is not a fan of Mexican cuisine either, just like your Nanny and doesn't stray from Italian cooking. I would certainly give these a try.

Bob said...

Those. Look. Mad. Good. I love enchiladas, haven't had them in years. Definitely going to need to make some soon.

Daziano said...

I've never had tomatillos... how do they taste?

Mom on the Run said...

These look great! Mexican is always a huge hit in my house.

Spryte said...

YUM!!!!!! Those look awesome!!!

Sophie said...

I love tomatillos. That is so sweet that you took your grandma's pic into the kitchen :D. She would've been proud and I think she would've made an exception (with the not eating mexican food) with this yummy meal!

Danielle said...

Those looks really good!! I can almost smell them :)

Barbara said...

I love tomatillos, Michele. They spring up like weeds in my garden, come spring. Roasting them really brings out the flavor. I love Mexican food, too. ;)

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Patti T. said...

This is what I am making for dinner tonight! Only one thing made me mad about this recipe. I have my garden all planned and the plants bought, why oh why did I never think of planting tomatillos??