Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chicken, Spinach, & Mushroom Verde Enchiladas

This is a fairly quick recipe for veggie and chicken filled enchiladas. It's even faster if you have leftover chicken from the previous night's dinner. I find that's always a great excuse to make this dish. Tomatillos are such a delicious summer treat. When I saw these at the farmer's market the other day, I got really excited, as did my dog Lady (only she didn't know why). It was food of one kind or another, so that was good enough for her!

When searching for tomatillos, look for ones that are small to medium in size and bright green. The bigger the tomatillo, the more diluted its flavor will be, so try to find smaller ones which tend to pack more punch. Look for tomatillos with their papery husks intact. When storing, be sure the husks are thoroughly dry otherwise they can spoil more quickly.  Tomatillos will keep well in the refrigerator for a month or more. 

The verde sauce for this recipe doesn't take long at all. You throw all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor, cook it down while you saute your vegetables, and voila! It's so great to have on hand, I like to freeze any leftover sauce to throw together a quick weeknight meal. As for the filling, feel free to use all kinds of veggies as it's pretty open to interpretation. These enchiladas are great for the summer because they're light, but still filling. 

Slightly adapted from Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday 


For the verde sauce:
3 cloves garlic
1 to 2 jalapeno or serrano chiles, stemmed and quartered 
1 medium sized yellow onion, roughly chopped
1½ lb. (about 12 to 15 medium) tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and quartered
¾ cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish
3 tbsp. vegetable oil, olive oil, or bacon drippings, plus some for the tortillas 
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 tbsp. Mexican crema, sour cream, heavy cream, or creme fraiche 
½ tsp. sugar (optional)

For the filling:
8 oz. mushrooms (such as button, oyster, or shiitake), stemmed and sliced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced (reserve a few slices for garnish)
10 oz. (about 10 cups) spinach
1 to 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (omit for vegetarian enchiladas) 
Salt and pepper to taste
12 corn tortillas, preferably store bought
1 cup (4 oz.) crumbled Mexican queso fresco, or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With a food processor or blender running, add the garlic and chiles one at a time, allowing each piece to be finely chopped before adding the next. Add the onion, tomatillos, and cilantro, and process until smooth.

In a medium (3 to 4 quart) saucepan, heat 1½ tbsp. of the oil or bacon drippings over medium-high heat. Add the tomatillo puree and cook, stirring nearly constantly, until the mixture has thickened and reduced (to the consistency of a thick tomato sauce), about 7 minutes. (The longer you cook down the sauce, the sweeter and richer it will become). Add the chicken or vegetable stock and simmer the sauce over medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1½ tbsp. of oil or bacon drippings in a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high. Add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, stirring almost constantly, until they begin to brown. Add the onion and continue cooking, stirring every so often, until the onion is translucent. Add the spinach and chicken, stirring constantly, until the spinach has wilted and the chicken is heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, set aside and cover to keep warm.

Lay the tortillas on a sheet pan and brush both sides of the tortillas with oil or bacon drippings. Stack them in twos on the pan and bake just until they are soft and pliable, about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and stack in a single pile. Cover with foil or a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.

Stir the crema or cream into the verde sauce. Season to taste with salt (about 1 tsp.) and add the ½ tsp. sugar if the sauce tastes a bit tart. Holding a tortilla by one edge, dip it into the sauce and place it on a plate. Spoon a generous amount of spinach and chicken filling down the middle of the tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese and roll up the tortilla, seam-side down on the plate. Repeat until all of the tortillas are filled. Generously spoon the verde sauce over the enchiladas. Garnish with a sprinkling of cheese, cilantro, and sliced onions. 

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

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