When you live in Southern California, you love Mexican food. Not the drive-through stuff; I’m talking real homemade. My favorite dish is chicken enchiladas with tomatillo sauce. It’s what I used to order at Mexican restaurants until I created my own healthy and tasty recipe. Now I make them at home.
To make this recipe faster, roast the chicken and prepare the sauce a day or two ahead, then assemble and bake when you are ready for dinner. For the chicken, roast, cool then shred the meat. Using leftover chicken from either a whole roast chicken or roast chicken breasts works great and is usually what I do. You can also use a store rotisserie chicken.
Homemade Tomatillo Sauce
For the sauce I use fresh diced tomatillos, diced onions and spices simmered for 20-30 minutes. A staple in Mexican cuisine, fresh tomatillos look like green tomatoes covered with a papery husk and have a tart flavor. Buy bright green firm fruit. Remove the husks and rinse off the light sticky film.
When assembling my enchiladas I add sweet corn kernels for more texture and flavor. Frozen corn works just fine, and I use roasted corn when I can find it.
Once you have chicken ready and sauce made it’s just assemble and bake when you are ready to eat.
While corn tortillas are traditional for chicken enchiladas (and good if you eat gluten-free), I’ve experimented with different types. Most recently I discovered a fantastic uncooked corn tortilla that you cook for just 60 seconds in a hot pan. They are fresh tasting with wonderful flavor and a light, handmade texture.
Made by Tortilla Land,I was fortunate to get my hands on a bag for a cooking segment I did for the San Diego Living television show. I still have one precious package in my refrigerator. If you’d like to see the TV cooking segment, click here.
**Update – These tortillas are now available just about everywhere. Look for them in the refrigerated dairy section. Unfortunately Tortilla Land has not come out with an organic version of their corn tortillas, meaning they are likely GMO. I keep hoping and waiting for an organic version.
If you can’t get Tortilla Land uncooked corn tortillas, use regular corn tortillas. I’ve used some that are a blend of corn and wheat. I’ve even used whole wheat, low carb, high fiber tortillas for my carb-conscious clients with great success.
Next time you feel like good Mexican food, look no further than your own kitchen.
Roast Chicken with Tomatillo Sauce
Tomatillo Sauce (Yield 6 cups)
- 3 pounds tomatillos husked, rinsed and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4-5 cups tomatillo sauce recipe below
- 3 pounds bone-in chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels thawed
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves plus more for garnish if desired
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions plus more for garnish if desired
- 8 corn tortillas preferably Tortilla Land fresh corn tortillas
- 12 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend
To make the sauce, combine tomatillos, onion, jalapeno, garlic, water, oregano and spices in a medium saucepan. Bring almost to a boil, turn down heat to low, cover with a lid and cook until tomatillos are broken down and saucy, about 20 minutes.
add cooked tomatillos to a blender and blend briefly to smooth it out. When blending hot liquids, take precaution. Fill blender only half full, place lid on top and a towel on top of the lid. Blend on low speed for a few seconds. Do in two batches for safety. Use tomatillo sauce immediately or cool completely and refrigerate for up tow 3 days.
To roast the chicken, pre-heat oven to 375°F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place chicken breasts on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven until chicken reaches 160-165 degrees, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. If you are going to complete the enchiladas now, turn oven down to 350 degrees. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and shred meat. You should have about 3 1/2 cups. Save any extra for chicken salad or soft tacos.
- Make the filling. In a large bowl, mix shredded chicken, corn, cilantro, green onions and about ½ cup of the tomatillo. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Ready a large glass or ceramic baking dish by placing a just enough sauce over the bottom to lightly coat. Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium high and cook tortillas according to package directions. Remove to a plate as they are cooked.
Assemble the enchiladas. Place one cooked tortilla on a plate. Top with 1 tablespoon of tomatillo sauce, then about 1/3 cup of chicken mixture on top, then sprinkle with cheese. Roll enchilada and place in the prepared baking dish seam side down. Complete with the rest of the tortillas. Top the enchiladas with sauce (you may not need it all) and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake enchiladas covered with foil for 30-40 minutes, until cheese is melted and the enchiladas are hot throughout, 165°F. Take the foil off the last few minutes. To serve, garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro if desired.
Any extra tomatillo sauce freezes well.
Chicken yield note - you should get approximately 3 1/2 cups of shredded chicken.