October 27, 2009

Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo

Don't speak Spanish? Neither does my dad. He would call these "enchiladas verdes de polo." You know, polo. That little bird whose body runs around after its head is cut off. It's always fun going to Mexican restaurants with my dad because you get to listen to his amazing Spanish. Even after traveling to many a Spanish-speaking country, he tells waiters, "I am vegetariano. No carne. No polo..." He is pretty good with "gracias," though. And he always buys, so I guess I shouldn't be making fun of his Spanish skills.

I've been on a big salsa verde kick lately, and I don't see an end in sight. I picked up a jar of tomatillo salsa at Trader Joe's a while back, and I've been waiting for an excuse to use it. After roasting a chicken last week I had a couple large chicken breasts in the fridge, as well as a bag of corn tortillas, so enchiladas were an obvious choice. I must not be the only one experiencing salsa verde cravings, because when I started searching for recipe ideas enchiladas verdes were on the front page of Homesick Texan. Although I didn't end up trying her recipe (yet), I took its popping up on the first page of the first place I looked as a sign. I consulted my Rick Bayless cookbook and quickly got to work on some polo enchiladas.

Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo
Adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday

2 large chicken breasts, cooked (or 2-3 cups of any other part of the chicken)
10oz fresh spinach*
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup corn
12oz tomatillo salsa
8-10 corn tortillas
1-1/2 cups mild, white cheese, grated
Pickled jalepenos (optional)
Sour cream, guacamole, and cilantro for serving

These were the leftover chicken parts I had in the fridge. I ending up throwing the wing into the bag of chicken parts I'm going to make stock with rather than trying to pull off the little bit of meat to add to the enchiladas, but I took this picture before I made that decision.

Use a fork to shred the chicken or cut it up into small pieces.

Heat a little oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts. Season with a little salt and remove from the heat. I also sprinkled some cumin and cayenne into the mix because I have this little voice in my head that tells me to add cumin to every Mexican meal I make.

I added the chicken to the skillet because the recipe I was kind of following said to add it, but then I realized that the enchiladas don't actually get cooked so the ingredients need to be warm. Since I baked my enchiladas, adding the chicken at this point was completely unnecessary.

Combine the spinach and chicken with the corn.

Then start stuffing tortillas.

Wedge as many enchiladas as you can into an 8x8" dish.

Oops! I stuck the assembled enchiladas in the fridge for a few hours, and the tortillas did not fare well.

Solution: toothpicks.

Pour tomatillo salsa over the tortillas, and throw on some pickled jalepenos if you're into that kind of thing. I would have added more had I been cooking for just myself, but since Matt was going to be enjoying them as well I had to take it easy on the heat. I guess it all worked out since he ended up picking off all the jalepenos and giving them to me.

Top with a generous dose of cheese. I wanted to use queso fresco, but I opted for the less pricey monterey jack. I guess the benefit to monterey jack is that it melts well and creates a nice, cheesy blanket over the enchiladas.

Look, Mom and Judy Haar, I used a full-length oven mitt so I wouldn't burn myself again!

Bake at 350 for 15 or 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Sour cream is a must for topping these off. Guacamole is tasty, too.

The best part about having to use toothpicks was ending up with the cheesy equivalent of candles on a birthday cake.

I don't remember this from the first night we ate these, but when I was eating leftovers the next couple of days the tortillas had soaked up some of the salsa liquid and became the consistency of tamales. It was awesome.

*One final note: I'm still not sure how I feel about the spinach in these enchiladas. I added it because 1) I had it in the fridge, 2) it made me feel a little better about the large quantities of cheese I was using, and 3) the recipe I was kind of following was for spinach and mushroom enchiladas. The flavor turned out to be a little strong, so next time I might either eliminate it or replace it with beans. Any suggestions?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

these look YUM! i saw the homesick texan post and went out and bought all the ingredients...i'll let ya know how it turns out.


October 27, 2009  

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