Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

I’m pretty sure I gained a few pounds this weekend. After all my talk about how we never eat out, we only cooked one meal at home this entire weekend. I did have a salad at lunch one day, but I’m fairly certain that was completely negated by the Five Guys we ate the following day. It finally opened last week, and if the line out the door was any indication, business is booming. We liked it, but I wasn’t blown away, which is probably a good thing since it’s about 5 minutes from my house. We had cake, Shane and I made chocolate-covered strawberries, and I opened the bag of Reese’s Hearts I’d been hoarding since Valentine’s Day. It’d be fair to say we indulged – but that’s what birthday weekends are for, right?

Birthday Weekend

Today we should probably eat something lighter (and get to the gym, but that’s another story entirely). I’m still loving the recipes I’ve tried from America’s Test Kitchen’s Healthy Family Cookbook, so I’ll probably pull that one from the shelf for dinner ideas tonight. These enchiladas are also from that book; they were on the table last week. It was only my second time making enchiladas, and this recipe gave me my first opportunity to work with tomatillos. I had to visit a few stores to find them, but it was worth the effort in the end, I think. The tomatillo sauce was bright and fresh, and seriously easy to whip up. There was an awful lot of green in this dish, and Shane’s track record with green foods isn’t great, but he eagerly gobbled these up and even ate the leftovers a few days later. I think my preference is still for traditional enchiladas, but these were really good and I’d definitely make them again.

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Just a quick note – this recipe calls for chicken breasts, which are poached in the tomatillo sauce and then shredded for the enchiladas. I’ve been working my way through a giant BJ’s-sized package of bone-in chicken thighs so I substituted those instead. I did remove the skin before cooking them, and increased the cooking time slightly, and they worked perfectly. Every time I pull chicken thighs from the freezer I hope it’s the last package, I swear they’re multiplying in there. Luckily, these enchiladas saved us from having to eat yet another roasted chicken thigh :)

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Lighter Chicken Enchiladas Verdes
slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce (recipe below, or you could use store-bought)
1 cup (4 oz) crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
1 4-oz can chopped green chiles
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro (I used parsley)
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
lime wedges (for serving)

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Combine the chicken and the enchilada sauce in a medium skillet and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat (this will take about 10-15 minutes). Once the sauce begins to simmer, flip the chicken, cover the pan and continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the chicken registers 160-165 F, about 10-15 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and shred into bite-sized pieces. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce, queso fresco, chiles and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place 2 tortillas at a time on a microwave safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 25 seconds, or until the tortillas are soft and pliable. Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla, and roll tightly. Place seam side-down in a 13×9 baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.

Pour 1 cup of the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until heated through. Remove the foil and continue baking until the cheese is completely melted, about 3-5 more minutes. Serve with remaining sauce and lime wedges.

Tomatillo Sauce

Green Enchilada Sauce
3 poblano chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 lb tomatillos, husks removed, washed and dried
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves (I used parsley)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat your broiler, and place an oven rack about 6 inches from it. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place the poblanos (skin-side up) and tomatillos on the baking sheet. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Broil until the vegetables blacken and soften, about 5-10 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet as necessary to cook them evenly.

Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the veggies cool until you can handle them. Remove the skins from the poblanos (they should slip off easily). Combine the poblanos, tomatillos, chicken broth, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and sugar in your food processor. Pulse until the sauce is almost smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

{You can make the sauce ahead and refrigerate for up to 1 week.}