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
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.
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.
On day 2, my next first step is to grate the cheese! Make sure the Jack cheese is nice and cold for optimal grating.
Now you can gather the ingredients for the sauce and the enchiladas and pre-heat the oven to 400°F
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.
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.
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.
Next add the spinach and cook just until it is slightly wilted-you want to keep that vibrant green color.
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
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 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.
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.
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!
Remove foil, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake until the cheese melts-about 5 minutes.
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.
Chicken Enchilada Verdes
by: M.B. Einerson
Barely adapted from Bon Appetit, December 1988
Servings: 6 generous
- 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
- 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
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.
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
* 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!!