If you were to ask me what my favorite food was in the whole world, I would most likely respond, enchiladas!
Not the exotic, wonderfully complex authentic enchiladas from Mexico, but the cheesy American casserole 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. 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.
These Green Chile Enchiladas are a riff on my mom’s cheesy enchiladas. Instead of a tomato sauce we are using a tomatillo salsa verde sauce, and we stuffing the enchiladas with roasted green chiles and jack cheese.
The Best Chiles for Enchiladas
To make these green chile enchiladas of course you’ll want to start with some good green chiles. I like to use fresh Anaheim green chiles, but you could easily use Hatch green chiles, or even poblanos if you want a spicier enchilada. Anaheims and Hatch chiles tend to be milder than poblanos.
When working with fresh green chiles, you need to roast them first (either over a gas burner or under the broiler), to blacken the outer tough peel, then remove the charred bits to reveal the roasted chiles.
If you don’t have access to fresh green chiles, you can use canned, but note that the flavor of freshly roasted chiles is far superior to canned.
Tomatillo Salsa Verde Sauce
For these enchiladas, I’m also making a homemade tomatillo salsa verde, by roasting and puréeing fresh tomatillos. Have you ever cooked with tomatillos? They have papery husks around them, and some people confuse them with green tomatoes but the taste is quite different.
How to Make Green Chile Enchiladas
To put the enchiladas together, it’s just a matter of frying the tortillas in a little oil and rolling them up with cheese and chiles. Then, you assemble them in a casserole dish, cover them with sauce and bake them until the cheese melts.
Short on time?
Of course the enchiladas will taste best with roasted fresh chiles and homemade salsa. But if you are running short of time, you can easily use prepared tomatillo salsa (3 cups) instead of making your own, and/or use prepared canned whole Anaheim green chiles.
Make ahead Instructions
You can easily make the tomatillo salsa verde ahead of time, it will store well in the fridge for several weeks.
You can also roast chiles ahead of time. I like to buy chiles in season (late summer) and roast them all at once. If you freeze them with the blackened charred peel still on, the chiles will continue to absorb the roasted flavor, and when you defrost them, the blackened peel will slip right off.
You can assemble the enchiladas (without the sauce) a day or two ahead, then pour the sauce over them and sprinkle with cheese to bake.
How to Store and Reheat Enchiladas
Once cooked, the enchiladas will keep in the fridge for up to four days, or you can portion them out and freeze them for up to three months. Take some enchiladas to work and reheat them in the microwave. Or reheat them and top with a fried egg for breakfast.
If you’re looking for a freezer meal, this is a great one to double, cook, freeze, and reheat. Let the whole pan cool to room temp. Transfer them to a freezer safe container. When ready to eat, reheat them in a microwave or transfer them to a baking dish, covered in aluminum foil, and bake at 350°F until heated through.
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Green Chile Enchiladas Recipe
You can easily substitute prepared canned tomatillo salsa verde for the tomatillo sauce (you'll need 3 cups), and canned whole Anaheim green chiles for the chiles (remove the seeds and stems if still in the chiles).
For the tomatillo sauce:
- 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos
- 3 cloves garlic, still in their peels
- 2 jalapeño peppers
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
For the enchiladas:
- 4 large Anaheim or Hatch green chiles (can sub with poblanos, if you want spicier)
- 12 yellow corn tortillas (look for sturdy corn tortillas)
- Extra virgin olive oil, corn oil, or canola oil
- 1/2 to 1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated (quantity depends on how cheesy you want the enchiladas to be)
- Sour cream
1 Prepare the tomatillo sauce: Remove the husks from the tomatillos. Rinse off the tomatillos.
Cut the tomatillos 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 to 10 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, cilantro, 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.)
2 Roast the 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.
3 Steam, peel, and deseed the chiles: Place the blackened chiles in a bowl and cover with a plate. Let the chiles steam in their own heat for 5 minutes. Then remove the chiles from the bowl 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.
4 Warm the tortillas: Heat a couple tablespoons of 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.
Remove the tortilla from the pan with a metal spatula, shaking off any excess oil, to a plate lined with paper towels.
Cook the remaining tortillas this way, adding more oil as needed. Separate the cooling tortillas with paper towels.
5 Assemble the enchiladas: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread a little 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 seam side down 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.
6 Bake: Bake for 15 minutes at 350°F, until the cheese is melted.
7 Serve: Serve with sour cream (thinned with some water) drizzled over, and some chopped fresh cilantro. Thinly sliced iceberg lettuce that has been sprinkled with cider or white vinegar and salt is also good with it. Makes for excellent leftovers; will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
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