You would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like Mexican food making it the perfect party and game-day food.
For years I have been making this creamy green chicken enchiladas recipe that I adapted from a recipe seen on Rick Bayless’ great show, Mexico – One Plate at a Time. Bayless nicked the recipe from the famous Cafe de Tacuba in Mexico City and I in turn nicked it from him. Thank you, Mr. Bayless. My modifications make the sauce more green with double the chilies and spinach.
Enchiladas are a great party food as the elements can most often be made in advance, the final assembly goes quick, and then it’s just a matter of a short bake in the oven.
I’ve made this recipe for every occasion from a game-watching party to birthdays or even just a weeknight at home. Enjoy.
Ingredients for Creamy Green Chicken Enchiladas
- 1 Roasted Chicken (you can likely find a good rotisserie chicken in your neighborhood)
- 4 Poblano chilies
- 1 to 2 Serrano chilies
- 6 cups of Baby spinach
- 2 cups of Milk
- 2 cups of Chicken stock
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup flour
- 6 tablespoons of butter (or a mix of butter and vegetable oil)
- 12 fresh Corn tortillas
- 2 cups of grated Chihuahua cheese
Pull the roasted chicken apart into bite size pieces and reserve all of the meat. (Reserve the bones for stock.)
Roast all of the chilies over an open flame. This can be done on your stove top if you have a gas range. If not you can open and flatten the chilies and place them under the broiler until they are charred and blistered. Place the charred chilies in a bowl and cover with a towel or cling film. When they are cool enough to handle pull away the charred skin, remove the stems and seeds, and gently wash away any black charred bits of skin.
To make the base of the sauce it’s just a variation on the classic béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a sauce pan and gently sauté the garlic until fragrant but not browned. Add the flour with a teaspoon of salt and cook until the flour has been well-absorbed by the butter and the raw flour smell has dissipated. Slowly add the stock and the milk whisking until fully incorporated. Bring it to a gentle boil and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about five minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the sauce to cool a bit.
In a blender add half of the roasted chilies, two cups of spinach, and about half of the sauce. Blend well until smooth. Return the green sauce to the base sauce and mix well. Now is the time to check the seasoning adding salt and pepper as needed.
Chop the remaining chilies. Into a large bowl and add the chicken, the chopped chilies, the remaining baby spinach, two cups of the green sauce, and half of the grated cheese. Mix well and check this for seasoning.
At this point you can stop and cool all of the items ready to assemble at a later hour or you can get on with the assembly.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a large baking dish with a thin layer of sauce at the bottom. Lightly brush the tortillas with oil and place then on a baking sheet and then into the preheating oven. By the time the oven is up to temperature the tortillas will be warm and pliable. Fill each tortilla with about 1/3 cup of the chicken and chilies mixture. Roll and place in the baking dish. Repeat until finished. Top the rolled enchiladas with the remaining sauce and then the remaining grated cheese. Bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheese has melted and has lightly browned (you can always use the broiler to finish the browning). Garnish with cilantro if you like and serve.
This dish is best enjoyed with a wide range of beverages from a good Mexican lager to a tart Margarita. It also loves to pair with a cool Sauvignon Blanc or a red Côtes du Rhône.