Green Chile Enchiladas

If you were to ask me what my favorite food was in the whole world, I would most likely respond, enchiladas. And not the exotic, wonderfully complex authentic enchiladas from Mexico, but the cheesy casserole American version my mom made for us growing up. Just smelling the tortillas being lightly fried (to soften them so they roll up easily), and my tummy will leap for joy knowing that enchiladas will be ready shortly. This is the scent of my childhood, my mom in the kitchen, the family around the table. We always make enough for leftovers because as my father will happily tell you, there is nothing better than my mom’s enchiladas, re-heated for breakfast.

My tomatillo plants are still producing, as is the Anaheim green chile plant, so I decided to do a green chile salsa verde version of my mom’s enchiladas. Note that this recipe can be much easier to prepare than what I’ve shown here. If this weren’t tomatillo season, and if I had only half an hour to prepare a meal for the family, I would use prepared tomatillo salsa, instead of roasting my own, and prepared canned chiles too if I didn’t have fresh chiles or time to roast them. Then it’s just a matter of frying the tortillas in a little oil, rolling them up with cheese and chiles, assembling them in a casserole, covering with sauce and cooking until the cheese melts. (Speaking of which, I used half a pound of Jack cheese, which is on the light side. My mother would typically use a pound.)

You can easily substitute prepared canned tomatillo salsa verde for the tomatillo sauce (you'll need two cups), and canned whole Anaheim green chiles for the chiles (remove the seeds and stems if still in the chiles).

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos
  • 3 cloves garlic, still in their peels
  • 2 jalapenos
  • Salt
  • 3-4 large Anaheim chiles
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 pound to a pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated (quantity depends on how cheesy you want the enchiladas to be)
  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro

Method

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1 Prepare the tomatillo sauce. Remove the husks from the tomatillos. Rinse off the tomatillos. Cut them in half and place them cut-side down on a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. Place the garlic and jalapeños on the pan with the tomatillos. Broil on the top rack on the oven for 5-7 minutes until the tomatillos are lightly charred. Remove from the oven and let cool to touch. Remove garlic from the garlic skins, discard the skins. Cut open the jalapeños and remove and discard the seeds and the stems. Place tomatillos, cooked garlic, the jalapeños, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a blender, pulse until well puréed. Set aside. (You can make several days in advance and store in the refrigerator.)

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2 Prepare the Anaheim chiles. If you have a stove-top gas burner, you can roast the chiles directly over the flame of the burner (see How to roast chile peppers over a gas flame), otherwise use a broiler and broil the chiles in a roasting pan, turning them until they are blackened all over. Place the blackened chiles in a small brown paper bag. Close the bag and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Then remove the chiles from the bag and peel off and discard the blackened skin. Slice open the chiles and remove and discard the seed pod, any seeds (they're hot!) and the stems. Slice the chiles into strips.

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3 Cook the tortillas. Heat a couple tablespoons of canola or grapeseed oil in a frying pan (cast iron works well) on medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add a corn tortilla to the pan. The tortilla should sizzle as it hits the pan. Turn it over and let it cook until little pockets of air start to bubble up in the tortilla. Then use a metal spatula to remove the tortilla from the pan, shaking off any excess oil, to a plate lined with paper towels. Continue to the tortillas this way, adding more oil as needed, separating the tortillas that are cooling with paper towels.

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4 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread a little of the tomatillo sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole pan. One by one, place a little grated cheese and a strip or two of green chiles in the center of the tortillas, roll them up, and place them in the casserole. Once you have filled the casserole with the rolled tortillas, spread the remaining tomatillo sauce over them, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

5 Bake for 15 minutes at 350°F, until cheese is melted

Serve with sour cream (thinned with some water) drizzled over, and some chopped fresh cilantro. Also good with it is thinly sliced iceberg lettuce that has been sprinkled with cider or white vinegar and salt. Makes for excellent leftovers, will keep in the refrigerator for days.

Main Ingredients

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