Chicken Enchiladas with Green Tomatillo Salsa Recipe + More

Satisfying enchiladas oozing with melty cheese plus a roundup of 12 food recipes, a Margarita roundup and more help you celebrate Cinco de Mayo and all “Mayo”
Chicken Enchiladas with Green Tomatillo Salsa and Cheese

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Cinco de Mayo is a good excuse to make delicious Mexican food and whip up a batch of Margaritas or another tequila-based drink. But it doesn’t have to stop there. I highlight enough recipe ideas to keep you well fed and “hydrated” throughout Mayo and beyond. Check out this restaurant-quality enchilada recipe plus scroll down for more ideas.

Enchiladas are like the lasagna of Italian food: rustic, satisfying and most importantly, oozing with melty cheese, says Twin Cities chef and Saint Paul College Culinary Arts instructor Jason Ross, who created this recipe for Real Food. The green salsa is the fun part of making these, he notes. Build flavor step by step. Roast and blacken the chilies and tomatillos. Purée and sear the sauce to deepen the earthy perfume. Then finish with some bite from fresh lime and cilantro. To make it a full meal, try serving with some jalapeño slaw.

Chicken Enchiladas with Green Tomatillo Salsa and Cheese

Makes 4 Servings

For the Green Tomatillo Salsa (Makes 3 cups)
12 tomatillos
2 poblano peppers
2 to 3 jalapeño peppers (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 white or yellow onion, cut into 8 pieces
3 cloves garlic
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cups chicken stock or water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

For the Chicken
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

For the Enchiladas
12 corn tortillas
1 cup vegetable oil or enough to fill a pan with at least a half inch of oil for frying
3 cups Green Tomatillo Salsa (recipe above)
3 cups shredded mozzarella, Oaxaca, or jack cheese
1 cup sour cream or Mexican style cream
½ bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
½ yellow or white onion, diced

  1. Prepare the Green Salsa: Remove papery skin from the tomatillos. Line a baking pan with foil. Put the tomatillos, poblanos, jalapeños, onion and garlic on the prepared pan. Broil 15 to 20 minutes in the broiler of your oven. Turn vegetables with tongs a few times until they are blistered, blackened and softened on all sides.
  2. Remove the tray of vegetables from the broiler and allow them to cool enough to handle. Using a spoon, scrape the skins off thepoblano and jalapeño peppers. Split the peppers and remove the seeds and stems. It is not important if you miss a few seeds or leave a little skin on the peppers. Discard stems, skins and seeds.
  3. Put all the vegetables including the peppers into a blender and add salt and cumin. Blend until pureed.
  4. Heat a medium sized sauce pot with the oil set on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the puréed sauce and cook for 1 to 2 minutes using a wooden spoon to stir constantly. This will help prevent splattering as the sauce sizzles in the oil. Look for the sauce to darken slightly and concentrate in flavor. Add stock or water and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens and holds its shape without running when spooned onto a plate.
  5. Stir in the chopped cilantro and lime juice. Set the salsa to the side. The salsa could be made ahead of time and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, but omit the cilantro and lime juice until ready to serve.
  6. Coat chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cook in the oven at 375°F in a pan for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven and wait until cool enough to handle. When cooled, use your hands to pull apart chicken breasts into shreds.
  7. Increase oven temp to preheat to 400°F.
  8. Heat oil in a straight-sided pan until it reaches 325°F or until a tortilla sizzles. Fry tortillas individually for 1 minute. Flip with tongs and fry on other side for another minute, or until tortillas have softened and begun to brown along the edges. (See Cook’s Notes for frying tips.) Remove and drain on paper towel-lined plate or cooling rack and continue frying all the tortillas.
  9. To assemble the enchiladas, fill a tortilla with 2 to 3 tablespoons shredded chicken, 2 tablespoons of sauce, 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese and 1 tablespoon of sour cream. Roll the filling into the tortilla, and place in a baking pan or casserole dish, with the seam facing down so it does not unroll.
  10. Continue with all the tortillas, filling the pan. Spoon remaining sauce over the tortillas, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover pan with foil and bake in oven 30 to 40 minutes until bubbly and hot.
  11. Drizzle with remaining cream, cilantro and chopped onion for garnish. Spoon enchiladas onto plates and serve immediately.

Cook’s Notes:

  • Flash fry tortillas to keep them firm, not mushy, as the enchiladas bake in the sauce. The trick is to fry in lower temperature oil and pull them out after a minute or so. Don’t let them get crispy—they need to stay flexible so they can roll around the chicken and cheese.
  • Enchiladas are a great way to use leftover chicken you might have. Another easy option is a cooked rotisserie chicken from the deli; just pull and shred the meat to measure about 3 cups for this recipe.
  • To make jalapeño slaw, mix 4 cups shredded cabbage with 1 thinly sliced jalapeño, juice from 1 lime, 1 tablespoon minced cilantro and a pinch of salt.

Nutrition Info Chicken Enchiladas with Green Tomatillo Salsa & Cheese: Per Serving: Calories 959; Fat 60g (Sat. 21g); Chol 159mg; Sodium 1781mg; Carb 54g; Fiber 8g; Added Sugars 0g; Protein 56g

Hungry for More?

Check out this roundup of recipes I have highlighted on this site that are perfect for Cinco de Mayo or dinner ideas anytime.

Artichoke Guacamole with Toasted Pine Nuts and Good to Be Green Cocktail
Add vitamins and minerals to happy hour with nutrient-dense avocados in a twist on traditional guacamole, and get some of those same nutrients whipped up in a cocktail.

Baja Style Fish Tacos
Light and crispy fish tacos are dressed with fresh green salsa and a lime-infused coleslaw.

Beef with Tequila, Tomato, and Orange
Slow-cooked beef gets a mysterious subtle fruitiness from a splash of tequila. This dish is great on its own or as the perfect filling for tacos, burritos, or enchiladas.

Chicken Mole Verde Enchiladas
In this dish, tortillas are layered to make stacked enchiladas in an almond and green Chile sauce.

Chipotle Chilaquiles
Chilaquiles consists of corn tortilla strips sautéed with other foods such as chilies, tomatoes, or green salsa, and topped with cheese and shredded chicken or beef.

Garlic and Pepper Tortilla Chips
Mexican food expert Rick Bayless has a quick and easy way to jazz up regular chips with natural ingredients you’re likely to have on hand.

Mini Sopes with Carne Asada, Avocado and Queso Fresco
Sliced avocados make for a rich and tasty topping to mini sopes filled with sautéed carne asada, black beans, and queso fresco.

Quick Tostadas
Easy and adaptable to different tastes, tostadas make a warming meal—not to mention a great pairing for Margaritas.

Shrimp, Avocado, and Assorted Greens Over Black Beans with Spicy Salsa
This Mexican-influenced entree salad is also extremely versatile: Substitute chicken, pork chops, or flank steak for the shrimp, and you have a totally transformed meal.

Tacos Al Pastor
Flavorful chili marinated pork jazzes up tacos way beyond ground beef.

Tortilla Soup with Pasilla Chile, Fresh Cheese, and Avocado
A small bowl of tortilla soup is a great way to begin a meal, but this soup by Mexican food expert Rick Bayless is satisfying enough to be the main attraction.

Wild Mushroom Queso Fundido
There’s nothing like a warm, oozy cheese dip with some corn chips or tortillas, especially with this recipe by chef and cookbook author Rick Bayless, which kicks it up a notch.

Patrón Classic Margaritas

Photo: Patrón Tequila

Thirsty for More?

Try these cocktail recipes that make perfect pairings with the recipes:

Margarita Recipe Roundup
Celebrate with the ever-popular classic Margarita formula and delicious twists.

The Paloma
This deceptively simple Margarita-esque drink combines all four tastes recognized by Western science with the elusive “fifth taste.”

Jimmy’s Perfect Margarita
You don’t really need an occasion to enjoy a Margarita, do you? Mix it up with the recipe for Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville definitive house Margarita.

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.