Enchiladas Verde With Chicken And Corn
It finally feels like spring in New England and I’m craving light, bright flavors this Cinco de Mayo. Did you know that Cinco de Mayo is also National Enchilada Day? Coincidence? Probably not! Thankfully, there are so many ways to do up enchiladas that I can skip the heavy red sauce in favor of a vibrant salsa verde. And to be honest, this pairs way better with margaritas anyway!
This salsa verde is a combination of tangy tomatillos and smoky poblanos. To bring out the best in these fruits (yes, they’re both technically fruits), I like to roast them before turning them into enchilada sauce. To make it quick, a few minutes under the broiler is all they need to turn soft and perfectly charred. Removing the skins from the poblanos, once they’re cool enough to handle, ensures you don’t have any unpleasant waxy bits in your sauce.
For the filling mixture, I prefer chicken thighs. They stay moist and flavorful, and shred easily into tender bite-sized pieces. Thighs are also richer in flavor than chicken breasts, so they’re more than just a vehicle for the cumin and coriander that’s seasoning them. Fresh corn and pepper jack cheese complete this hearty filling and continue the theme of bright flavors. If you’re averse to the heat of pepper jack you can certainly use Monterey Jack or crumbled queso fresco, but skip the cotija here – it’s too dry for this dish. Cilantro is a popular ingredient in enchilada filling, and certainly contributes to the lively flavor profile. I’m only a moderate fan of cilantro so I tend to leave it out, but throw it in there if you’re game.
Fit your little wraps tightly into the baking dish. It’s okay if they’re squished together. The nature of the corn tortillas is to break down when moist – so you’re really making more of a casserole than individual mini burritos. Just go with it. Every serving you scoop out will be filled with delicious chicken filling, salsa verde, corn tortilla, and of course a little blanket of gooey cheese. Grab your margaritas and cheers to that!
Don’t forget to wash and dry your tomatillos after you take the husks off. They tend to be kind of sticky, so you want to get that stickiness off before roasting. I like the punched-up flavor of pepper jack cheese here, but if you prefer your enchiladas on the milder side you can substitute Monterey Jack or queso fresco.
1. Adjust oven rack approximately 8 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Toss tomatillos and poblanos with 1 tablespoon oil and arrange cut side down on a foil–lined baking sheet. Broil until vegetables are blackened and softened, 5 to 10 minutes, rotating baking sheet every few minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Adjust oven temperature to 425 degrees and adjust rack to middle position.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and coriander, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Decrease heat to medium-low and stir in 1 cup broth. Season chicken with salt and nestle into pan. Simmer until chicken is fully cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through. Scrape contents of skillet into a large bowl and let cool slightly.
3. Remove as much of the skins from the poblanos as possible. Place poblanos and tomatillos, along with any accumulated juices, and remaining 1/2 cup broth in food processor or blender. Process until sauce is slightly chunky; season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Using two forks, shred chicken into bite-size pieces, then stir in 1 1/4 cups of the cheese, corn kernels, and cilantro, if using.
5. Wrap tortillas in damp paper towels in two stacks of six, and microwave until warm and pliable, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Spread 1 cup tomatillo/poblano sauce evenly over the bottom of a 13- by 9-inch glass baking dish. Place warm tortillas on a clean surface and spread 1⁄3 cup chicken filling down the center of each tortilla. Roll tightly and place seam side down in baking dish. Pour remaining tomatillo sauce over enchiladas, spreading to evenly cover tortillas, then sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Spray the matte side of a sheet of aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover the baking dish tightly.
6. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake until cheese just begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Serve with avocado slices and sour cream as desired.