Mexico City Enchiladas

When I say “I’m thinking of making a batch of enchiladas.” the first thing my husband says is “Mexico City Enchiladas?”  What last weeks Chicken Enchilada Verdes lack in authenticity, Mexico City Enchiladas make up for in spades.

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The source is another of my go to cookbooks – Mexican Cooking by Cynthia Sheer.   It’s one I gave to my then “boy friend-to become husband” for Valentines Day because it had a recipe for Huevos Machaca.  I’m not sure we ever actually tried to make it because nothing could ever live up to the dish as served at Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac  in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.  If you are ever in LA, it is a place you should try to  visit.  Their claim to fame was the  MANUEL’S SPECIAL BURRITO made with Original Chile Verde Pork It weighed in at 5 lb. and would easily feed a family.   But it was the #9 Machacha dinner that was my favorite.  I loved leaving the line for entry (and there was always a long one) to watch the chef’s sauteeing the shredded beef with  onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, eggs & melted cheddar cheese.  It was their beef that made the dish so unique-aged and air-dried and produced in the northern part of Mexico.  My mouth waters just with the memory.

Even though I never made the Huevos Machaca from Mexican Cooking,  I have made many of it’s recipes and this enchilada is likely the most repeated.   It’s not quite as labor intensive as the Chicken Enclilada Verdes and is certainly a leaner, healthier dish.

The ingredients are pretty basic-Chicken ,spices, onion & garlic, chilies, tomatoes, tortillas and cheese.

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I love that this recipe starts with a whole chicken!  Of course you can start with pre-cut chicken parts (no boneless, skinless please) but a whole chicken is a good deal (often under $1.00/lb) and there is just something satisfying about mastering the art of cutting up the bird.   It doesn’t have to be pretty, you just need to get it into manageable pieces that will cook evenly. 

I like to use both a chef’s knife and a pair of kitchen shears on a cutting board with a trough to catch the juices.

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Position the bird with the tail toward you.  Pull the leg/thigh away from the body and slice through the skin and flesh until you get to the joint.  You should be able to pop it and cut through the center of the joint with your knife or the shear.   Repeat this same process with the wing.  

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Turn the bird over on its breast and using shears, cut through the fine rib bones on both sides of the back.  This will give you one long piece of mostly bones that will give your dish tons of flavor.  You should be able to see the spot where you can cut it into two pieces.  Then cut along the breast bone/cartilage to cut the breast into two pieces.

Like I said, it doesn’t need to be pretty, it just needs to be cut so it can fit into your pot in one layer.

Sprinkle it with salt, cumin, Mexican oregano and red pepper.

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Add chopped onion, fire-roasted chilies

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then the tomatoes and their liquid and the tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until the chicken is very tender.

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Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the sauce.  I put it into the dish I will use to bake the enchiladas. 

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While the chicken is cooling, puree the cooking liquid into a smooth sauce with an immersion blender, food processor or blender.   Be careful if you are transferring to a blender etc. and be especially careful if blending a hot liquid.  I highly recommend investing in an immersion blender!  If the sauce seems very thin at this point, bring it back to a simmer and reduce to the consistency of tomato sauce.

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 When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred into bite size pieces – you should have about 3 cups of chicken.  Add the tomato, onion and juice that was clinging to the chicken pieces to the bowl with the shredded chicken.  Then stir in 1/2 cup of the blended sauce.

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Back to the baking dish that was holding your cooling chicken.  Pour 1 cup of the remaining sauce into it and spread in an even layer.

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Today I’m using blue corn tortillas because they caught my eye when I was in the Mexican market, but any corn tortilla will do.  If you can find some that are produced near you go for it, they will be much fresher.  

Instead of the traditional method of heating the tortillas in oil prior to filling, I give them a quick dip in the remaining simmering sauce.  Dip them just long enough to make them soft and pliable.  Alternative is to heat a stack of six for 30 seconds or so in a microwave.

Fill each tortilla with approximately 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture

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Roll or fold in half and place arrange on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Cover enchiladas with some of the remaining sauce.  I like to keep a bit of extra sauce for serving. Bake, uncovered until bubbly and heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.

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Sprinkle with crumbled cheese and thinly sliced red onion and a little cilantro if you like

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A few chips, some black beans, fresh tomato, avocado, a dollop of sour cream and of course a margarita Yum!!  And best of all I’ve got great leftovers for lunch or dinner tomorrow.  

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 Provecho!

 M.B.

Mexico City Enchiladas

(Enchiladas Mexicanas)

by: M.B. Einerson

 Adapted from Mexican Cooking by Cynthia Scheer 

Servings: 6 generous

  • 1 whole frying chicken, cut up or chicken parts 2 ½ to 3 lbs.
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp crumbled oregano (Mexican is best)
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 1 small dried red pepper, crushed or ¼ to ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 can green chilies – 4 to 7 oz. depending on your taste
  • 1 – 14.5 oz. can diced or whole peeled tomatoes (the original recipe used a 1 lb. can where oh where have those extra two ounces gone)
  • 1 can tomato sauce the original recipe calls for an 8 oz. can, but I use a 15 oz. can because we like lots of sauce. When I can find it, I substitute a Mexican tomato sauce called El Pato.
  • 12  corn tortillas
  • ½ to 1 cup crumbled Queso fresco , Feta or shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 thin red onion slices, separated into rings (optional)
  • Cilantro (optional)
  • Sour cream, Mexican crema or crème fraiche (optional)
  • Avocado (optional)

Arrange chicken pieces in a layer in a large skillet or Dutch oven.  Sprinkle with salt, cumin, oregano, chopped onion, red pepper, garlic and green chilies.  Pour on the tomatoes and their liquid and the tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until the chicken is very tender.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the sauce.

Pre-heat oven to 375° F

While the chicken is cooling, puree the cooking liquid and solids into a smooth sauce with an immersion blender or in a food processor or blender.  No worries if you don’t have one of those power tools, a chunky sauce will taste mighty fine as well.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred into bite sized pieces.  You should have about 3 cups of chicken.  Add any of the tomato, onion and juice that was clinging to the chicken into the bowl with the shredded chicken.

Mix ½ cup of the reduced sauce with the chicken.  Pour 1 cup of the remaining sauce into an ungreased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Dip the tortillas one at a time in the remaining hot sauce to soften slightly and fill each with approximately ¼ cup of the shredded chicken.  Roll or fold in half and arrange on top of the sauce in the baking dish.

Cover enchiladas with some of the remaining sauce. I like to keep a bit of extra sauce for serving. Bake, uncovered until bubbly and heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.  Sprinkle with cheese, red  onion and cilantro.  Serve with sour cream and avocado and extra sauce.

Provecho!

M.B.

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

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These Chicken Enchiladas Verdes,  although not high on authenticity,  definitely  fall into the category of favorites at my table and top the scale on luscious .    The original recipe appeared in the December 1988 issue of Bon Appetit and sadly to say cannot be found on either the Epicurious or Bon Appetit sites today.  What it lacks in authenticity it makes up for in solid comfort.  So with a nod to Cinco do Mayo (yes once again I’m blogging and making dinner at the same time) I give you Chicken Enchiladas Verdes!

Like many recipes of its type, lasagna included, it is a recipe that can be made in stages so that the cook can enjoy it for dinner without spending the whole day in the kitchen.  You could also take some short cuts and use a rotisserie chicken for the filling and stock or broth without the addition of the veggies.  It won’t be quite as tasty, but still pretty darn good.   It also makes a big pan of enchiladas, so you may want to cut it in half if you’re not feeding friends or don’t like leftovers.  A special someone however has been known to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The original recipe in Bon Appetit  was from an article titled  Bye-Bye Turkey. Hello Encliladas! in the section Cooking for Friends.  It included a menu and game plan for a Christmas feast with a southwestern accent complete with the enchiladas, a romaine salad, sopaipillas and pumpkin flans for dessert.  The magazine itself was comprised of 208 pages with no less than 130 recipes!  My comments in the margins indicate that I made the Romaine Salad with Avocados, Oranges and Fried Chilies as well, but it’s the Enchiladas that have endured over the years and remained in the memory of one of my most special table companions (although I’m thinking she wasn’t quite ready for enchiladas the first time it was on my table).

We’ll start with the chicken, a few aromatics and some stock.  Bone-in, skin on chicken will give you the best flavor

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The poaching method for this one is a very gentle one.  Bring the stock to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the chicken stand until cooked through – 165°F.  This makes a Dutch oven ideal for the job as it retains its heat during the stand time.  If you have a thinner stockpot or pan, you will likely need to simmer for a bit longer – I’d say 10 minutes minimum.

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When the chicken is done, remove it from the stock, pull it off the bone and shred into bit-size pieces.  You can do this a day in advance. Refrigerate the stock with the aromatics and the chicken separately.

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On day 2, my next first step is to grate the cheese!  Make sure the Jack cheese is nice and cold for optimal grating.  

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Now you can gather the ingredients for the sauce and the enchiladas and pre-heat the oven to 400°F

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Warm the stock and transfer the aromatics to the food processor that you just grated the cheese in – no need to wash in between!  You are going to have plenty of dishes to wash, so conserve where you can.

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In another saucepan melt the butter and stir in the flour – you’re making a roux.  It’s a blond roux, so cook it just until its light golden color and then stir in the hot stock and cook over medium heat until it’s slightly thickened and the floury flavor is cooked out.  Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.

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While the sauce is cooling, start sauteing the onions in the vegetable oil in a large skillet.  Cook them until they are soft and translucent.

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Next add the spinach and cook just until it is slightly wilted-you want to keep that vibrant green color.

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Transfer the spinach mixture to the food processor which has the aromatics from the broth, add the sour cream, green onions and 1/2 can of the chilies.  Blend until smooth

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Add as much of the cooled sauce to the processor or blender as possible (there is usually a maximum line on the food processor)and blend again.  If your food processor won’t hold all of the sauce, no worries.  Simply stir the blended  sauce into the rest of the sauce and go from there.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the rest of the chilies if  you like.

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Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Spread 3/4 cup of the blended sauce over the bottom of the baking dish and add 1/2 cup of the sauce along with 2 1/2 cups of the grated cheese to the shredded chicken.  Mix well.

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You’re on the home stretch now!  Note that the traditional method of preparing the tortillas for filling is to heat them in oil until soft and pliable.  There is plenty of fat in this recipe, so I opt to microwave 6 tortillas at a time until they are soft – about 30 seconds in my microwave.  Lay them out on a cutting board and fill with the chicken/sauce/cheese mixture.

Roll them up and arrange seam side down in the baking dish.

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Spoon the remaining sauce over the filled enchiladas, cover with foil and bake until heated through.  It will take about as much time as it will take you to get the pots and pans cleaned and dishes in the dishwasher!

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Remove foil, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake until the cheese melts-about 5 minutes.

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Ready for dinner!  I like to serve it with frijoles- either refritos or de olla and black are my favorite and a bit of salsa or pico de gallo on top.

Provecho!

M.B.

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Chicken Enchilada Verdes

by: M.B. Einerson

Barely adapted from Bon Appetit, December 1988

 Servings: 6 generous

Filling *

  • 2 to 3 bone-in, skin on chicken breast halves – 2 1/2 lb.
  • 3 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ large onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf

Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ large onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped or 6 oz. baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 to 4 green onions, cut into pieces (use both white and green parts)
  • ½ to 1 four oz. can diced jalapeno or mild green chilies, grained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ lb. Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese, grated
  • Vegetable oil (optional)
  • 12 – 6-inch corn tortillas
  • Salsa

Filling:

Place all ingredients in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the chicken stand until cooked through, about 1 hour.  Remove chicken from broth and cool slightly.  Remove skin and bones from the chicken and shred the meat.  Put in a medium size bowl and chill.

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.

Grate Cheese

Sauce:

Transfer the aromatics from the stock to the bowl of the food processor or blender.

Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan or Dutch oven over low heat.  Add flour and cook until light brown, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in the reserved chicken cooking liquid.  Increase the heat to medium and cook until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.  Cool.

Heat 1 ½ tsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Add spinach and stir until wilted, about 2 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to the food processor or blender.  Add sour cream, green onions and ½ can chilies.  Puree until smooth.   Add as much of the cooled sauce to the processor or blender as possible (there is usually a maximum line on the food processor)and blend again.  If your food processor won’t hold all of the sauce, no worries.  Simply stir the blended  sauce into the rest of the sauce and go from there.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the rest of the chilies if  you like.

Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the bottom.  Add ½ cup sauce to the chicken along with 2 ½ cups grated cheese.

** Pour ½ to 1 inch of vegetable oil into a small to medium skillet.  Heat over low-medium heat.  Add 1 tortilla and cook until softened, about 5 seconds.  Drain on paper towels.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas. **

Divide the chicken filling among the tortillas and roll up.  Arrange seam side down in buttered dish.  If baking immediately, spoon remaining sauce over the filled enchiladas. Cover with foil. (This part can also be prepared 1 day ahead.  Refrigerate the enchiladas and sauce separately.  Bring the enchiladas to room temperature before baking.)

Bake covered in the 400°F oven until just heated through, about 20 minutes.  Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.  Serve with salsa

Provecho!

M.B.

* The filling can be prepared a day in advance.  Chill the shredded chicken and broth separately.

** Note this step can be skipped if you want to reduce the amount of fat in the recipe a bit.  Simply put the stack of tortillas in the microwave and heat until soft and pliable.  You’ll need to work quickly, so they don’t get stiff again, but you can do it!!