Chicken enchiladas are the bomb! And I especially love them with a green chili sauce. There is just something about the combination of moist and seasoned shredded chicken, corn tortillas, green chili, and a bunch of cheese. This dish is simple. It is both rich and fresh, all at the same time. Each chicken enchilada is just a smothered tube of yumminess, that’s what it is.
I’m calling this Lori’s green chili chicken enchilada because it is a bit different from the other recipes out there. In other words, I put my own spin on it. So, if you don’t think it is authentic, or you prefer a more complex dish, this may not be for you. But if you want to taste tender, juicy, herbed chicken, surrounded by the sweet and comforting taste of corn, covered in fresh green chili flavor and cheese, then this recipe definitely is for you.
There’s a lot of Tex Mex out there that may prepare chicken enchiladas differently. And there are recipes that call for non-authentic ingredients like cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. I can guarantee you that if someone offered me a bite of any of the those dishes, I would enjoy them. Let’s face it. Tasty food comes in a bunch of different varieties, whether authentic to their origins or not. But I prefer this version for a reason.
When we took a family vacation to Cozumel in 2007, one of the things that stood out to Steve and I was the food preparation at the resort in which we stayed. That far south into Mexico, we weren’t served the American version of heavy cumin or red chili powder. The food was fresh, light, herby, and amazingly delicious. It felt like they used fewer but fresher ingredients to elevate flavors. And that is what I try to achieve with my green chili chicken enchilada.
so, let’s give these chicken enchiladas a shot
Shredded chicken breast – I boil large raw chicken breasts in 5 cups of water with salt for about 10 minutes over medium heat, and then I turn off the heat and let them sit for another 10 minutes while I work on other stuff. The intent is not to over-boil, which can make them tough. They will still be a bit pink when you turn off the flame. Resting in the hot liquid will finish cooking the insides while keeping the breast moist and tender.
I then strain any foam from the liquid used to cook the chicken and reserve it for my green chili sauce.
By the way, an easy way to shred cooked chicken is to use an upright mixer with the paddle attachment. I used two large breasts, about 1 1/2 pounds combined. After resting in the hot liquid for 10 minutes, I cut them in half and used the mixer to shred all four pieces while they were still quite warm. Worked very well.
As for the tortillas, I like to use raw ones made from corn. Many recipes call for flour tortillas. If you prefer flour, then by all means, use flour tortillas. But my hubby likes corn tortillas over flour for almost all things. Plus, enchiladas, traditionally, are made from corn tortillas. You can use ready-made corn tortillas, but I suggest you go with thicker ones since they are sometimes thin and can become soggy in this dish.
Start with the chilis.
I use Anaheim chilis because they are readily available in most markets, and they have a rich chili taste without too much heat. If you want more heat, you might add some serrano or jalapeno chilis to the recipe. I’m choosing to share a mild version today.
Broil the chilis until dark and blistered, turning to char both sides. About 4 minutes per side.
Then seal the edges of the foil over the broiled chilis to form a steam pocket. Allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients.
Heat a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, garlic, and chicken. Stir well to incorporate and sauté just until the onions begin to soften, and the mixture is fragrant. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Then remove the pan from the stove and stir in the chopped cilantro.
After steaming the chilis in the foil pocket, peel them and remove the stem caps, but leave the ribs and seeds inside. The skins should come off very easily.
Then process the peeled peppers with onion and garlic, along with the liquid from the cooked chicken, in a blender. Blend until you achieve a cohesive sauce. Add the flour and blend again. The sauce will still be a bit runny, but will thicken during baking, so resist adding more flour.
Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
If using raw tortillas, cook them on a hot griddle now. Ready-made tortillas can also be warmed on a hot griddle so they are more malleable, or they can be dipped in the sauce before assembly. If warming the tortillas in a pan, keep them in a tortilla warmer or a foil envelope until ready to use.
You are now ready to assemble your chicken enchiladas.
Drop a healthy tablespoon of sour cream on the edge of a tortilla. Using the back of the tablespoon, spread the sour cream evenly though the center of the tortilla to the other edge. Then top with the seasoned chicken.
Before you ask, this is where I think this recipe goes the “fresh and herby” way. No cheese in the enchilada. There will be plenty of cheese on top. But when I cut into the enchilada itself, I want to taste moist, and seasoned chicken only. The olive oil and sour cream combined ensure that the filling is moist to the point of being almost creamy.
Roll the tortilla and place seam-side down into a prepared baking dish. Repeat until all the chicken filling has been used.
Pulse the mixer to re-blend the green chili sauce, then pour it over the rolled chicken enchiladas to about half way. You may have some green chili sauce left.
Then cover evenly with the shredded cheese. It’s a lot of cheese. I may have kept the cheese out of the filling, but I have no problem with plenty of it on top of the enchiladas!
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400° F, or until the sauce is hot and bubbly and the cheese is well melted.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
And your enchilada should look something like this.
Serve with the salsa or pico de gallo of your choice.
Hot, moist, HUGE seasoned chicken flavor, with a luscious, thickened green chili sauce. Wrapped in a sweet-savory corn hug and smothered in Monterrey Jack cheese. Pretty yummy!
Lori's Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas
- FOR THE SAUCE
- 1 pound Anaheim chilis about 6
- 3 cups of the reserved broth from cooking chicken breasts
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 garlic chopped
- 2 tablespoons flour
- FOR THE ENCHILADAS
- 3 cups cooked chicken breast meat shredded
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 2 medium cloves garlic minced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 10 corn tortillas
- 1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese shredded
- 10 tablespoons sour cream
- Oil spray for the baking dish
- Move a rack to the top position in the oven and turn the oven on to broil.
- Line a shallow roasting pan with tin foil and lay the chilis side by side on the foil.
- Place the roasting pan on the top rack and broil the chilis until most of the skin is charred and blistered (about 4 minutes), then flip the chilis and char the other side.
- Remove the pan from the oven and fold the foil over to create a closed pocket over the chilis. Crimp the sides and allow the chilis to steam in the foil pocket for 5-10 minutes. This step will finish cooking the chilis in their own steam and make it easier to peel off the skins.
- While the chilis are steaming, heat a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, garlic, and chicken. Stir well to incorporate and sauté just until the onions begin to soften and the mixture is fragrant. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Then remove the pan from the stove and stir in the chopped cilantro.
- Open the tin foil pocket and peel the skin off all the chilis and remove the stem caps. Leave the ribs and seeds for a mild hint of spice. The chilis will be quite warm, so be careful not to burn your fingers.
- Drop the peeled chilis, onion, garlic and broth into a blender. Mix on low until the ingredients are blended into a smooth sauce. Add the flour and mix again until fully incorporated. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
- Preheat an oven to 400° F.
- To assemble the enchiladas, place a tortilla on a flat surface, Drop a healthy tablespoon of sour cream on the edge of a tortilla. Using the back of the tablespoon, spread the sour cream evenly though the center only of the tortilla to the other edge. On the center path of the sour cream, evenly spread 2-3 tablespoons of the prepared chicken. Then roll the tortilla around the filling and place seam side down in a large baking dish that has been prepared with a little cooking spray.
- Repeat until all tortillas and chicken have been used and the baking dish is full.
- Pour the chili sauce evenly over the enchiladas and top with the shredded cheese.
- Bake in the center rack for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is fully melted and starting to caramelize.