Chicken Enchiladas and Roasted Salsa Verde

I love me some enchiladas! Well, I only like them one way. Let it be known, up until a few months or so ago, I wasn’t that crazy about Mexican food. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t something I craved. I was good without it…until one day when I really wanted enchiladas. But not enchiladas from some chain restaurant, but authentic ones. I knew of a neighborhood where I could find them, but I wasn’t willing to drive that far and have to deal with street parking to get them. Luckily, I was able to find an authentic Mexican restaurant that was maybe ten minutes away. I ordered their chicken enchiladas, rice and black beans and though I’ve had all of those things before, I didn’t know what to expect from this new restaurant.

Let me tell you, they were the best enchiladas I’ve ever had. Tender, shredded chicken breast wrapped in four soft, warm tortilla with rich and flavorful salsa verde beautifully ladled over the tortillas and gorgeously garnished with Mexican crema and chopped fresh cilantro. From the first bite, I absolutely knew I’d be back. It was my first time ever having salsa verde too! After that experience, there’s no other way I want my enchiladas to be made.

So last week, Daredevil was released and I wanted to eat something special for it while I watch the show. The only thing in my mind were those chicken enchiladas from that restaurant. However, because I’m participating in a weight loss challenge at my gym and trying to cut back on ordering out food, I figured I could try to recreate them. If they didn’t come out as well as the restaurant’s enchiladas, I would’ve been fine with it and would’ve just tried again. No biggie.

I did my research on how to make salsa verde, how to cook the chicken and how to make a healthier version of Mexican crema. I thought about making my own tortillas, but I 

didn’t have time for all that. I’ll give it a shot next time, though. Store-bought tortillas worked just fine for me. I really wanted to have a poblano pepper for the salsa verde, but could only find jalapeno. As the Farmer's Markets resume this season, I hope to find poblano peppers so I can incorporate it into the salsa verde recipe. 

Since this was my first time making these enchiladas, the process was a bit time consuming. I wanted to make sure I was following my own recipe correctly and making any necessary changes to it. When it was all done, I was very satisfied how it turned out. I felt like I ordered at that restaurant, which I will still visit because I’m not going to always want to make enchiladas myself. I hope you enjoy them as well. My mom sure did. She's my guinea pig for all of my dishes, so if she gave it a thumbs up, I know I did a good job.

If you follow the recipe word for word, let me know how it turns out for you. If you make any changes, let me know what changes you made. Here’s a tip for following this recipe, as well as all of the others I’ll post: add as much salt, sugar, pepper, etc. as you need to until the flavor is how you want it. Also, taste as you go. You don’t want to finish cooking a dish and start eating it only to find out it needs more flavor.

Anyway, on to the recipe.

**Another tip, I brined the chicken in the chicken stock listed below for 24 hours before poaching it. I only did this because I didn't have time to make it one night and had to make the enchiladas the next night. With that said, poached chicken in chicken stock will still be tender and juicy, even if it hasn't brined overnight. 

Ingredients:

- 4 soft shell tortillas 

Chicken: 

1-2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast 

3-4 cups of chicken stock 

1-2 sprigs of thyme 

1 bay leaf 

2 garlic cloves

Salsa Verde: 

6 tomatillos

3 Garlic Cloves (unpeeled)

2 Jalapeno Pepper

1 White onion

1 tbs of olive oil

¼ + 2 tbs  of chicken stock

¼ tsp of white sugar 

¼ cup of cilantro, coarsely chopped + another quarter cup for garnish

Kosher salt to taste

Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

Mexican Crema:

1 cup of greek yogurt or sour cream -- I used greek yogurt to reduce the caloric and fat content and to get more protein. 

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

1/2 tsp of salt -- added in 1/4 tsp increments for taste. 

Directions:

1. Place the chicken, bay leaf, thyme, garlic and chicken stock into a dutch oven or a pot bring the water to a boil. Once it begins boiling, turn down to medium heat, cover and poach the chicken breast for 35-40 minutes or until the chicken breast is 165 degrees internally. 

2. Slice the tomatillos in halves and place them, along with the unpeeled garlic and whole jalapenos onto a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle them with a tablespoon of olive oil and season them with salt and pepper.

3. Place the baking sheet into an oven heated to 450 degrees and roast the veggies for 15-20 minutes until slightly browned.

4. While the tomatillos, garlic and peppers are roasting, make the crema. In a bowl, mix the greek yogurt or sour cream with the heavy whipping cream until it's smooth and slightly thick. Salt to taste. Place it in the refrigerate until it's ready to be used. 

5.  Remove the vegetables and let them sit until they're cool enough to handle. 

6. Unpeel the garlic and carefully cut the peppers into large chunks, stems removed. De-seed them for a milder salsa.

7. In a food processor, blend all the vegetables and cilantro together until the salsa is smooth but slightly chunky.

8. Pour the salsa onto a hot skillet or into a pot. Add the chicken stock and stir, if the salsa is too tart, add sugar and stir again.  Keep the salsa warm over medium-low heat until you're ready to serve it. 

9. Remove the chicken from the pot and onto a carving or cutting board. With the back of your fork, shred the chicken into pieces. I left used medium-large pieces for a meatier enchilada. 

10. Pour all but a cup of the broth into a container or mason jar and save for later use. Seriously, this can be used to flavor future sauces, risottos, whatever your foodie heart desires. 

11. Place the shredded chicken back into the pot with the remaining broth and keep it over low heat to keep it warm until you're ready to serve. 

12. Warm your tortillas so they're pliable. Place the chicken in the middle of the tortilla wrap it. 

13. Ladle the salsa verde over the enchiladas, drizzle the crema on top, garnish with cilantro and serve!