Prep time: 2 hours, (maybe longer your first time)
Serves 8, left-overs keep well
Cook time: 30 minutes
STOLEN from Sanborn’s in Mexico City, this is a fantastic recipe for the hard-working Foody in you.
You bake the chicken in the oven like a wet roast. Make the Green Sauce and White Sauce separately, then combine them. Finally, you assemble the enchiladas and bake. This will be the best Mexican recipe of your life — guaranteed. Try it on your family the first round; you will get better results the second attempt. (The instructions are really complete in case you have never made an enchilada before.)
The sauce freezes well and will keep in the fridge for a week or more. It’s too much trouble to make a small batch!
Make sure that you avoid any other heavy, cheesy appetizers or sides with this entrée — it would just be gastric madness! Start a family meal with a green salad & vinegar-based dressing. Courses could also include a fish & broth soup, a bit of grilled, cold salmon with a dill & balsamic vinegar sauce, boiled shrimp cocktail, etc. Finish with a light, fruit-based desert.
FYI: Tomatillos grow like weeds and make neat plants. They are almost ornamental with little balloons hanging down with bright yellow flowers inside. You must have several plants for cross-pollination to get fruit.
6-8 chicken breasts
2 cloves minced garlic
hot tap water
4 pounds fresh tomatillos
2 fresh jalapeno peppers
2 fresh serrano peppers
6 fresh anaheim peppers or 2 small cans of “green chilis” or chili verde
1 T sugar
olive oil (or your preferred type of cooking oil)
2 T baking soda
1 pint cream (use half that amount, but you may add more to cool down the spiciness if you need to do so)
1 pound of shredded cheese, medium cheddar
1 C flour
3/4 stick real butter
1 medium onion
2 C warm milk
30 small corn tortillas — 6 inches or so.
Chicken Enchilada Filler:
6-8 chicken breasts
2 T chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
2 T salt
2 T minced garlic
enough hot water to nearly cover
(In a pinch, I have just baked the chicken in water and a package of taco seasoning! Works fine.)
Bake chicken to doneness at 375 degrees for 1.5 hours or so in a large casserole dish, covered with foil, turning once after 40 minutes. Let cool and break into 1/2 inch pieces by hand, discarding any “bad bites” and bones. Don’t use a knife! Strain and keep the broth for soup, etc. — great for a chicken & matzoh ball soup or a zesty noodle and veggie soup.
4 pounds tomatillos — firm, with no holes from worms. Discard the papery husks and wash tommies well with mild soapy water — rinse. Sometimes the flower gets stuck inside the husk and decays — get that junk off or discard the piece if it ruined the fruit.
2 fresh jalapeno peppers (spicy/tangy heat profile)
2 fresh serrano peppers (Deep and warm heat profile)
6 fresh anaheim peppers or 2 small cans of “green chili peppers” (mild peppers) Roast these on the grill (medium temp) for 8 minutes if you like.
(Leave in all pepper’s seeds and inner septums if you want a spicy experience. Remove seeds from serranos with a spoon if you want a pleasantly-warm experience and good flavor. Remove all the seeds if you ought not be cooking Mexican food anyway!) Keep the seeds handy so you can add them later if the sauce is not spicy enough for you. WEAR GLOVES
BOIL the tomatillos and peppers in a large pot with a tight lid until the tomatillos appear to be cooked completely (about 15 minutes). The color will go from bright green to an “army” green. Do not boil vigorously, as the delicate tommies will burst. I put a small metal strainer on top of the veggies to sink them under the water so they cook uniformly — they float otherwise. Using a large slotted spoon, carefully remove the veggies from the pot to a large blender — just leave the water behind and discard it. You will likely need to blend them in 2 batches. Blend for about 5 minutes on high until the seeds basically “disappear” and the sauce is a homogeneous mixture.
Add 1 T sugar, 1 tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp fresh garlic to blender and mix in.
Now, you cook the green sauce in a large, deep skillet. Pour 1/4 C oil into the large skillet and get it hot. Pour in the hot green sauce, which should boil almost immediately. To break down the acid, sprinkle on a total of 2 T of baking soda in THIRDS — using a large slotted spoon, quickly press the soda into the sauce in a small, fast up-and-down motion. The soda will react with the acid in the sauce to make bubbles of carbon dioxide gas, so you may want to reduce the heat a bit or you could boil over. And do not add too much soda at one time. Now the green sauce it DONE. You can put it back in the blender or a big pot if your kitchen only has the 1 large skillet in which to make the next stage.
White Sauce: (like making a thick gravy)
3/4 stick real butter
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 C flour
2 C WARM milk — nuke it for 30 seconds
In a large & deep skillet, melt the butter. Saute the onions until beyond translucency, but not fully brown. Use a whisk to stir & to keep them from balling up. Now add the flour and brown it a little as if making a gravy. Whisk it constantly and try to break the flour into little pea-sized nuggets that will brown. Remove from heat and add the milk. Whisk it for several minutes until the sauce is basically smooth and REALLY thick. Continue to heat it until it becomes a gooey, super thick gravy. Remove from heat and add 4 to 8 oz of whipping cream and whisk it in. The white sauce is DONE.
Carefully pour the warm Green Sauce into the White Sauce and whisk until mixed. If you have a professional blender or a powerful hand mixer, you could blend this until really smooth. Add 1/2 pound of grated medium cheddar cheese and mix that in also. Your sauce is DONE! Taste it — maybe with a tortilla chip. If it’s too spicy, add the other 4 oz of cream. The sauce will get about 10% spicier if you leave it in the fridge for a few days. If you need more spice, chop the seeds that you removed until they are in pieces lo larger than corn meal and whisk into the sauce. It can be frozen or stored in the fridge for a week or longer. To make the enchiladas, you are still 30 minutes out as concerns prep time, plus 30 minutes of baking time.
It’s good to have 2 cooks at this point. Start this stage 1 hour prior to meal time.
Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a small skillet. With tongs, fry small corn tortillas individually in the hot oil for about 6 to 10 seconds to make them soft. Flop them flat onto the sauce and coat the tortilla on both sides. With a large flat spatula (like for grilling) or with your fingers if you’re tough, remove the gooey tortilla and place in a 9×13 casserole dish. Pinch out about 2-3 T of the chicken meat filler and place in the tortilla. Spoon about 1 T of sauce over the chicken, and roll the tortilla so it has the same proportions as seen in restaurants. Do this until the casserole dish is full of enchiladas that are barely touching one another — not crowded. You can expect to have a row of seven going the length of the dish, plus a single row across the top. (To make it fancy for individual services, use medium oblong/oval broiler dishes to hold two enchiladas each.) Spoon a little sauce over the entire dish. Top with shredded medium cheddar cheese or a blended Mexican cheese mix.
Bake in a warm oven (350) for 30 minutes. Broil for about 3-5 minutes until the cheese gets browned on top.
Serve with Mexican fried rice and beans, plus some chips (use a chip that has less salt than others) to complete the meal.
No one sees this recipe in a restaurant due to the labor involved. But it is WORTH IT!