Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner and I have another great enchilada recipe for you to add to your arsenal of delicious Southwestern or Mexican recipes. Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas is a little more traditional than the Tequila Lime Chicken Enchiladas recipe I shared with you last and it is every bit as yummy, just different, but in a good way.
If you are not familiar with or have never cooked with tomatillos you are in for a treat, it couldn’t be easier. Just peel the papery skins, rinse, quarter, and pop them in the oven to roast for about 15 minutes. That’s it! You may not know this, but they are the main ingredient in salsa verde. Tomatillos are frequently used in latin cooking and look a little like small green tomatoes, but this tart fruit is actually related to the Cape Gooseberry.
I just started cooking with tomatillos this year. When I saw them at the grocery store, I was never quite sure what they were, or how they were used. I’ve become a little obsessed with them now and with homemade salsa verde. I think I may like it better than regular salsa. Actually, I pretty much love all salsa. Tomato, tomatillo, mango, I adore them all. After all, salsa is a perfect food, the only ingredients are delicious fresh chopped vegetables, so it’s healthy and has almost no calories.
But back to this recipe, slightly spicy Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas will be the “star of the show” if you serve it to your family and friends this Cinco de Mayo. You can make it ahead and bake it just before dinner, or it also freezes well so you could even make it ahead and freeze it to serve later. It also makes quite a bit, so you might want to do what I did and divide it up into two smaller dishes. Another thing I like to do is to roast the vegetables and make the salsa and cook and shred the chicken the day before I plan to make the enchiladas. Then on the big day, all you have to do is assemble the enchiladas.
If you are ready to get started gather your ingredients which are tomatillos, onion, garlic jalapeno peppers, ground cumin, salt, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, flour, chicken stock, cooked chicken, flour tortillas, Monterey jack or a Mexican blend cheese, and for garnishes, sour cream and chopped tomatoes.
To roast the vegetables for the salsa verde, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Peel and quarter the tomatillos and the onion and cut the jalapenos in half and remove the ribs and seeds. (If you like your food really hot and spicy, leave the seeds and ribs in.) Put the vegetables on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. When the vegetables have cooled, add them to a food processor fitted with a steel blade along with cumin, salt, cilantro and the lime juice. Pulse about 10-15 times, or until the salsa is well combined but still slightly chunky. Set aside.
Meanwhile, add olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently for about 7 minutes or until the onion is soft and caramelized. Add the garlic and cumin and cook for one more minute. Sprinkle on the flour and mix well. Add the chicken stock slowly, whisking continuously to make sure the flour doesn’t form lumps. Continue whisking until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken.
Turn off the heat, add half of the tomatillo salsa, 3 cups of cheese and the shredded chicken. Mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Add about a cup of the reserved salsa to the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Spread out evenly.
Put about a half of a cup of the chicken and cheese mixture in the center of your flour tortilla and roll up as tightly as you can.
Place in your baking dish. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas.Top with the rest of the salsa verde and sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top.
Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes until the cheese has melted and the mixture is bubbling.
Let sit for about 5 minutes. Optional, to serve garnish with a scoop of sour cream, avocado slices, cut up tomatoes, guacamole or pico de gallo if desired.
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