Thursday, July 24, 2008

Creamy Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchiladas

When I planned my meals this week, I decided to try a recipe for
Enchiladas Suizas I came across on the Epicurious web site. But once I printed it out and started to review it for tonight's dinner, I realized that it was too similar to the enchiladas I made a few months ago, and I wanted something different.

I decided to experiment on my own instead. First I thought about boiling the tomatillos, sauteing jalapenos, and combining both with cilantro before pureeing and reheating with some cream and cheese. Then I decided to deepen the flavors a bit by roasting the tomatillos with garlic and jalapenos before pureeing and turning into a creamy sauce.

Creamy Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

  • 10 small/medium tomatillos; remove husks and wash; cut into halves or quarters
  • 2 jalapenos, roughly chopped (I used my first 2 jalapenos from my garden!)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 cup cilantro, thoroughly washed (cilantro tends to be very sandy in my experience)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup light cream (amount is approximate, I didn't measure as I was adding it)
  • 3 oz Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Dash of salt


  • Combine the first 5 ingredients in a baking dish. Roast on 450 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until tomatillos are tender.
  • In a pot, melt butter and add flour to make a roux.
  • Add roasted veggies, cilantro, and the salt. Mix everything together and then puree. I used my handheld immersion blender, but if you don't have one you could use a blender.
  • Slowly add the cream.
  • Add the cheese and stir until melted.
  • Let lightly simmer until you are ready to assemble your enchiladas, stirring occasionally.

I took a picture of the sauce but deleted it by accident, so here is how it looked once the enchiladas were assembled. The color was beautiful, and it tasted delicious. Sweet, tangy, and lots of heat all at the same time, with a nice, creamy consistency. I was eating it out of the pot with a spoon when I was done using it on the enchiladas!!

The Chicken
Marinating isn't just for grilling. I love marinating chicken that will be used in dishes prepared on the stove, most recently my
chicken parm and chicken caprese. Today I marinated my chicken for about 6 hours in a mixture of:

  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/3 bunch of cilantro,
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp lime juice - added about an hour before cooking.
After removing the chicken from the marinade, I sauteed it until golden brown on all sides. The color of the chicken was so beautiful from marinating in the rich colors of the marinade. Then, because I didn't feel like shredding the chicken, I chopped it up into rough cubes.

Making the Enchiladas

I'm still having a tough time working with corn tortillas. Last time I tried dipping them in hot oil, but they were too greasy for me. This time I wrapped them in wet paper towels and cooked in the microwave for about 40 seconds. They were soft and somewhat pliable, but they still cracked when I rolled them. Next time I'm going to heat them over the open flame on my stove. Any other tips?

So now we have the sauce and the chicken for the enchiladas; the rest of the mixture consisted of:

  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/4 c shredded cheese; I used a Mexican blend (more cheese for topping the enchiladas)
  • Dash each of chili powder and cumin


  • Heat olive oil in a pan. Add peppers and saute for a few minutes.
  • Add cream cheese and shredded cheese; stir until creamy.
  • Season with spices.


  • Coat the bottom of a baking dish with some of the tomatillo sauce.
  • Take a tortilla shell and add the pepper/cheese mixture, then some chicken, and top with a sprinkle of shredded cheese. Roll it and put into the baking dish, seam side down.
  • Continue until you have filled the casserole dish, making sure the enchiladas are tightly packed together (but not overlapping).
  • Spoon the sauce over the enchiladas, and finish with a sprinkling of shredded cheese.
  • Cover and bake on 375 for about 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

I've now made enchiladas with three different sauces - traditional red sauce, tomatillo sauce, and now the creamy roasted tomatillo sauce - and this creamy sauce is by far my favorite. I loved the depth of flavors, sweet from the onions, tangy from the tomatillos, and lots of heat from the jalapenos, especially after roasting them.

The mixture inside was so nice and creamy. I see so many recipes for enchiladas that just call for dry chicken. That wouldn't work for me - the cream cheese and pepper mixture kept the inside of the tortilla moist and each bite was nice and creamy.


I make this side dish a lot, it is so simple, and goes perfectly with Mexican food. I heat some olive oil in a pan, add 1/2 of a chopped red pepper and about 1/2 c of frozen corn. As I'm sauteing the veggies, I add just a few shakes of chili powder and cumin to bring all the flavors of the meal together.

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  1. Wow - this is awesome. Sometimes I get tired of the usual red enchilada sauce so your creamy tomatillo sauce is a great change!

  2. This looks great, Mary Ellen! Do you know I've never had tomatillos! This might be something new for me to try.

  3. I am drooling while sitting here at my desk. Delicious!

  4. Last time I made enchiladas they were really mushy, but I need to try again because I love enchiladas. Tomatillo sounds like a great flavor; I like it better than red sauce. This post made me hungry... I think it's lunch time :)

  5. for the can spray some cooking spray(my cooking spray is canola oil and olive oil together) on them and heat them up on a griddle or a comal thats what I used to cook tortillas on a regular basis.

  6. Brilliant! I found this recipe doing a web search for "roasted tomatillo enchilada sauce" and just made it. I left out the cheese as I don't have anything mild and melty to sub -- I'll crumble queso fresco on top instead. I also found I needed to add water in addition to the cream; there wasn't quite enough in the pot for the immersion blender to really be happy (and not spit all over me). Not sure how you could do this with a regular blender, since you have to let it cool first.

    I'm going to put them on some veggie enchiladas -- summer squash, eggplant, peppers. I'm excited!