Friday, October 18, 2013

Cooking: Early Fall Enchilada Dinner (Recipes)

I am loving this Fall weather and had to take advantage with what may have been our last family dinner outdoors. It was so pretty sitting in our backyard in our sweaters and jackets (except for the kids who still dressed for summer). It doesn't get much better than sunny and crisp.

We served one of my favorite meals for cooler weather: Chile Verde Chicken Enchiladas and Salad with Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing and Pepitas. These enchiladas are a crowd pleaser and they are easy to make. Plus they work to make ahead and freeze--I love having a pan in the freezer I can pull out when I am in a crunch for dinner. They work well for neighbor dinners too since they travel and can be warmed up when they are ready to eat.

The salad is simple: chopped romaine lettuce, 1" diced yellow and red tomatoes, 1" cubed avocados, some chopped fresh cliantro leaves, and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds). I share the recipe for the dressing below.

Click through for the recipes and a brief tutorial for assembling the enchiladas.


You'll need the following for 32-36 enchiladas (I can squeeze in a dozen per 9x13), enough to feed a crowd or share with a neighbor or eat and freeze for later:
  • 6 frozen chicken breasts
  • 3 24 oz jars Archer Farms Salsa Verde made with tomatillos, green chiles & jalapeno peppers ("Archer Farms" is the Target house brand and it's my favorite salsa verde but you could certainly pick another--I like one with plenty of chunky vegetables)
  • 1 8oz can diced roasted green chiles--MILD
  • 1 8oz can diced roasted green chiles--HOT (less 1 Tablespoon reserved for the dressing)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 32 enchilada-sized tortillas. (I like the flour/corn mix as it's more flexible and doesn't break when you rolls it. I used Mission Artisan Style Tortillas in Corn & Whole Wheat Blend. Trader Joe's has some as well.)
  • Shredded Cheese (about 40 oz, but this is certainly flexible depending on how much you like). I like this recipe with Monterey Jack but I've also used a pre-shredded Mexican blend.
To make the chicken filling:

Put the frozen chicken breasts in a slow cooker and smother them with 1 24 oz jar of salsa verde. Add the roasted green chilies and some freshly ground salt and pepper. 

Cook on the low setting for 6 hours.

Shred the chicken with a couple forks and stir the mixture so the salsa and chilies are incorporated.

(If you haven't used this method with frozen chicken breasts before, it is fantastic! I'd heard about it but hadn't tried it until my "foodie" sister, Susan, told me she had used it. I knew I had to try it.)

When your filling is ready, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To roll the enchiladas, first pour a bit of the salsa verde in the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish. (I don't pre-soak the tortillas for these--they are flexible enough to not need it).

Place one tortilla on a plate and top with the chicken filling. There's no exact amount here--you just need to be able to roll it closed.

Cover the chicken filling with grated cheese. Again, the amount is really up to you.

Roll the enchilada and place it "seam" side down in the pan.

Repeat until you have a dish filled with enchiladas. I was able to squeeze in a dozen.

Smother the enchiladas with salsa verde.

Then top them with grated cheese. (I'm using the "Mexican Blend" in the photo below, but as I mentioned above, my preference is to use all Monterey Jack. Cotija cheese would be really good with these too!)

(At this stage you could cover the pan and take it to a neighbor, or stick it in the freezer to save for another day.)

Bake at 375-degrees until the cheese is bubbly. (Remember the chicken is already cooked so this is just a matter of getting everything warmed up and melty.)

Yum! You can top these with extra salsa (red or green) to serve.

Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing (for the salad described above)
  • 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 1/2 mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 green onion (scallion) cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 cup cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1 T diced roasted green chiles (HOT)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. 

Add dressing to the salad to taste (this makes a large batch) and toss with the salad.


Valerie said...

This looks so delicious! Thank you so much for taking the time to share it!

Nanna Chel said...

That looks really nice but probably a bit too hot for me. I am not sure what the equivalent salsas would be here in Australia but you can buy mild or hot ones. The colours are really beautiful. We are fortunate here as we can eat outdoors for most of the year apart from a couple of months during winter depending on what part of the country one lives. I love your blog by the way.

Seaweed and Raine said...

Oh it looks completely delish Anneliese! I'm going to have to see if I can work this one so my 16 month old will eat it (I might need to tweak it a bit - but I'm so looking forward to it!). What a fab dinner party. You have a gorgeous yard. :)

Bari Jo said...

THANK YOU! Love this - can't wait to try it! I love things that can be frozen ahead, too, for those last minute gatherings - it helps to be spontaneous, too, when I know I have things ready at the drop of the hat in the freezer - easier to extend hospitality when life seems too crazy! :O)

Bari Jo said...

ps - a quick question - if I were to bake from frozen state, or deliver to a friend frozen for later use, how long should I cook it from frozen and at what temperature? Thanks! ;O)

Anneliese said...

@Bari Jo: to cook from frozen I would use the same temperature but plan on an extra 15 minutes or so. to be honest I've just usually kept an eye on it. If the cheese is getting too browned you can cover it with foil for the last few minutes until the interior is hot enough. Thanks for asking.

Jennifer said...

Yum!! So glad you shared your fave salsa and tortilla brands, too -- takes the guesswork out of trying something new, especially since you have such great taste! Adding these to next week's menu rotation...

Anonymous said...

For folks who are concerned that this might be too hot for their families, you might consider using Pepper Jack cheese as part of the cheese in the enchiladas. It will give a bit of a kick, but won't make it too hot. I use Pepper Jack in my white chicken enchiladas and it's perfect for the members of my family who don't like spicy dishes.

Jennifer said...

Five stars! Tried the enchiladas tonight (subbed mild for the hot chiles since I wasn't sure about guests' tolerances). Your recommendations for the salsa and tortillas made all the difference! I've been making a version of this for years, but these were really fresh tasting and unique.

I also made the salad and dressing, subbing Greek yogurt for the sour cream since it's what I had on hand. I made a huge amount and had absolutely NO leftovers of salad or enchiladas. Kind of bummed...

Thanks again for posting the recipes and mouth-watering photos.

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