GCC: Chicken-Filled Enchiladas with Tangy Crema Tomatillo Sauce

And after a very hot summer, the Gutsy Cooks are back in action.  With a new format, new cooks and new visions we are ready to rock on in our kitches the rest of the year.

This time around we are using tons of different creative outlets to set our monthly menus.  Inspirations now can come from a cookbook, or a particular chef, or a theme, maybe a particular technique or even our own cookbooks/recipes – because after cooking with this group of gutsy home cooks, there is huge amount of talent there and I’m really excited to see what they come up with.

For the month of September I decided to go the Mexican route – I will come clean, I tasted some excellent enchiladas during my vacation in Mexico during the summer and I guess I wanted the opportunity to go back there by way of cooking – sort of like closing off my great summer with one last enchilada dish.  After many searches, I settled in using recipes from one of the most popular American chef out there – Rick Bayless.  The one thing that attracted me to his version of Mexican cuisine is the fact the Mr. Bayles stays true to the Mexican heritage way of cooking any particular dish and if there is something that I’m a sticker for in cooking is keeping the authenticity of a dish.

Our menu choices were enchiladas (3 different ways), the time consuming (but totally worth it) Tamales (coming up next week) and I also added some Short Ribs for those that just cannot do without their cow meat.

As I was writing this post, 4 of us - Lola, Marie, Tammy and myself all choose the enchiladas options, the funny part of it, we all made the different versions and of course we all put our spin on it too.

Told you were were Gutsy.

I actually used all three of the recipes as the starting point for my own creation of the dish.

I knew I wanted Tomatillos in there, because, I love them and have used them before to make salsa and knew that tangy tart taste would work great.  I also wanted to use the yellow corn tortillas that I found in a Mexican market and or course I wanted the heat of the chiles, because its not Mexican unless your eyes water up a bit due to the heat in the dish.

I use the Quick-cooked tomatillo-chile sauce as my “muse” for the sauce, but changed a couple of things up. I roasted my tomatillos instead of using the boiling method – I wanted the extra layer of smokiness that roasting would give them.  I also cooked my onions, garlic, chiles and cilantro and added some Mexican crema along with chicken broth and some lime juice, cayenne and of course cumin. Then put it all in a blender with the roasted tomatillos and gave it a swirl.  My Tangy Crema Tomatillo Sauce was DONE.

Since I was pressed for time, I choose to go the lazy route and use a roasted chicken breast that I had from the supermarket.  I simply shredded it, and then seasoned it with salt and pepper and added chopped onions and cilantro to it.

To prepare the yellow corn tortillas for the filling, I wanted to avoid the frying method – I had done that before and still remember the mess it left in it’s wake. So, I took the method from the Enchiladas Especiales Tacuba Style of brushing them with oil, stacking them up and baking them in the oven to soften them up.

No mess means happy cook!

The results were delicious.  They came out just like I wanted them, tangy and sour, the Mexican Crema (which it’s thinner than it’s sour cream counterparts and the flavor is less sour, more cream-like with a very slightly sweet flavor to it.) toned down the heat from the Serrano/Jalapeño chiles making the sauce the star of the dish.  The only thing I would change up is to make more sauce and use Asadero or Chihuahua cheese to top them instead of the Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese combo.

Inspired from all these recipes 

For the filling:

  • 1 roasted chicken - shredded
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup of chopped cilantro
  • 1 medium-sized onion, diced (about 3/4 of a cup) 

For the sour cream sauce: 

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 Serrano chile, diced
  • 1 Jalapeño chile, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1½ cups of chicken broth
  • 1½ cups of Mexican crema
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 8 fresh tomatillos, husks removed and cut in half
  • Dash of cayenne
  • 2 tablespoon of lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

For the enchiladas 

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • About 1½ cup of Mexican Cheese – (like Asadero, Chihuahua or even cotija) or Monterey Jack/mild cheddar cheese. 

In a bowl mix the shredded chicken and add the chopped onion and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper and put aside.

In a saucepan melt the butter. Throw in the diced chiles and onions and cook until soft, about three or four minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the flour and cook for one more minute. Pour the chicken broth into the pot, and whisking constantly cook until chicken broth has thickened. Stir in the crema, cumin, cayenne, cilantro and lime juice – whisk one more time and remove from heat.

Place the tomatillos, under the broiler on a foil-lined sheet and cook on each side until blackened, about four minutes per side. Place in a blender along with the sour cream sauce and puree into smooth.   Taste and adjust the flavor with a bit of salt and pepper if needed.

Prep the tortillas brushing them lightly on both sides with oil or bacon drippings, then stack them in twos and place them in a baking sheet. Slide the tortillas into the oven and bake just long enough to make them soft and pliable, about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and stack them in a single pile; cover with a kitchen towel to keep warm.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a baking dish (for my 12 enchiladas I used a 9x13 pyrex), pour some of the sauce at the bottom.  Working quickly so that the tortillas stay hot and pliable, add some of the chicken filling up in each tortilla, top with some sauce and cheese and roll them, placing them seam side down on the baking dish. Continue to do this and line them up in the baking dish. Douse evenly with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the cheese.  Bake until the enchiladas are hot through (the cheese will have begun to brown), about 20 minutes.  Garnish with the cilantro and serve.

And don’t forget to visit the other Gutsy Cooks to read and see their take on this weeks menu options.