One of my fave meals is Enchiladas. Just about any Enchilada will do, but Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo (Chicken Enchiladas with a Green Chili Sauce) ranks high on my list.
When Cinco de Mayo rolled around this year and I realized I didn’t have this fab recipe on my site, I moved to remedy that situation immediately! And the bonus of being a food blogger? Yep, I got to eat the results! And now you can, too!
About Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo:
This is a pretty traditional recipe for chicken enchiladas. A seasoned chicken (with a little cheese, of course) is rolled in a lightly toasted corn tortilla, placed in a casserole, and then smothered in the mildly spicy green sauce. The real magic comes when the toppings are added, which adds freshness, brightness, and a little crunch.
Incidentally, when I say traditional, the sauce is, but as far as the enchiladas, I’m really talking more traditional to the Southwestern states rather than Mexico. You’ll seldom see the “casserole” version of enchiladas, with the enchiladas lined up, then smothered with sauce and baked served South of the Border. Whether I make mine in a large pan or divide it into smaller dishes if I’m feeling all fancy. I can’t imagine serving them any other way than “sauced” and baked.
Since I touched on it already, here are a few of my other fave Enchilada recipes. Top of my faves is this version of an Enchilada in a Red Mole Sauce, originally from Rick Bayless. How about a Texas Enchiladas con Carne? That one is a project but it’s so totally amazeballs. Here’s an old fave, a recipe that’s been passed around forever, Enchiladas con Pollo, the very simple recipe that has a sour cream and canned green chili sauce. A restaurant fave I have here is Three Cheese Enchiladas with Braised Pork & Ranchero Sauce. That’s fantastic with any leftover pork. And finally, a dish I learned about 40 years ago (i know, right!) that has become a staple in my house, my “signature” dish, Chicken or Turkey Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce. If you’re looking for a super easy Red Enchilada Sauce, you can’t go wrong with this 10-minute pantry jobber.
Making the Sauce for Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo:
This green sauce is based on Poblano chiles, one of the easiest to find at the store. They’re mild and fleshier than some of the chiles and easy to work with. You can sub in other green chiles, Anaheim, Hatch, or Mirasol chiles come to mind immediately. You may need a couple of extra – they’re smaller. I also like a little jalapeno for some heat. Serrano will bring a bit more heat.
The recipe for the sauce doesn’t have to be exact in either ingredients or amount. Think of it as a template. My recipe, below, will make about 2 1/2 cups which is a generous amount for the enchiladas. If you wish to use a little less on the enchiladas, serve any extra with some chips. I like the recipe as written (and I like to use two jalapenos) but if you want, you can sub in a tomatillo or two for some of the chiles or make any other little changes you wish.
The method is standard: Roast the chiles, steam them, peel, and remove the seeds (and the ribs if you’d like.) The “ribs” inside the chiles carry more heat than the flesh. Toss everything in the blender with some broth (maybe the broth you cooked the chicken in) and a few seasonings, a little cilantro if you want. Then the sauce is “fried” in a little oil. Simply heat up your oil in a pot or saucepan and toss the sauce in the pot to bubble (and splatter – be careful!) away for two to three minutes. Set it aside.
The sauce can be made ahead by two or three days and freezes very well – it’s a great item to double or triple, portion out and toss in the freezer for the next time you want to make enchiladas.
Roasting the Chiles (and other ingredients):
Variations in the color of the sauce from lighter to darker green depend on the chiles you use, what ingredients you roast and how darkly they are roasted. As you can see from the photos, mine was a bit darker than I would have wished (short attention span that day!) and I like to toss in the onions and garlic and roast them as well. Some people only roast the chiles.
I find the easiest way is to line a sheet pan with foil (it will help capture any juices which go in the blender as well) and line up the ingredients by size. Let the poblanos touch and they’ll support each other, then broil, turning as necessary and removing each item when finished, until all are lightly charred and the flesh is bubbled. Too dark, especially with less fleshy types of chiles, and the skin will sear into the chiles and be difficult or impossible to remove.
Use that same foil to wrap the chiles and let them steam inside the pouch for about 10 to 15 minutes, peel and deseed. Remove the ribs for less heat if you want. Then remove the skin from the onion and squirt the garlic out of their skins. It’s a messy job all this peeling and deseeding. Don’t worry if there are some bits of skin or seeds still – no need to be perfect. Don’t rinse the chiles! You’ll be rinsing away flavor! A quick hint on the garlic: keep it in the skin but chop off the hard end (the part that attaches to the bulb) before roasting. It’s super easy to squirt the roasted garlic out of the skin when it’s finished.
In the fall when chiles are at the market and fresh, plentiful, and cheap, it’s a great time to buy in bulk and roast, skin and deseed and toss into Ziplocs for future recipes and freeze. In some areas, you can buy them already roasted, and in some you can buy them already roasted, skinned, deseeded, and chopped, fresh or frozen. A poblano will be about the equivalent of 1/3 cup if you’re using one of those products. If you have to go with canned, I’d say use about 4 of the four-ounce cans.
You’ll need about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of shredded chicken along with about a cup of shredded cheese. This recipe is really all about the sauce, but the chicken has to taste great, too. Make sure it has some flavor and the right amount of salt.
You can poach your chicken, or use leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken for this recipe. I like white meat, but you do you, boo. The recipe is just as good with leftover turkey and excellent with any leftover pork, maybe from carnitas or pulled pork. If you poach your chicken (barely simmer it) save the liquid and use it in the sauce. Shred your chicken by hand or use your electric mixer.
For the cheese, something white and melty is going to be perfect. Monterrey Jack is great and budget-friendly! Any of the meltier Mexican cheeses are marvelous and more available at the stores these days. Make it easy on yourself and buy pre-grated – it’s just fine in this recipe.
Conditioning Your Tortillas:
Make sure you don’t overfill your tortillas, and for this recipe, you definitely want corn tortillas. Either the white corn or the yellow is fine in this recipe.
You want to “condition” your tortillas so they don’t dry out, crack and/or get soggy and if you don’t condition, all three of these things can happen at the same time! You can skip this step, but there’s some risk and your enchiladas will never be perfect. A conditioned tortilla, when covered with sauce won’t fall apart as it’s rolled and absorbs just the right amount of the sauce. The finished enchiladas are just a beautiful thing.
There are several ways to condition tortillas and I usually choose the messiest, hardest & most time-consuming one because I’m me, lol, but also it’s the best. Place about 1/2 inch oil in a skillet and heat over medium high. When an edge of a tortilla bubbles, it’s hot enough. Drop the tortilla in, quickly turn over and allow to heat for seconds, until the edges just firm up. Turn over and heat until just a few bubbles form, but don’t heat until crisp – the tortilla should still be very flexible. Do several and then roll the filling and stack in the pan, then continue wth a few more adding oil as needed.
Even I can’t always work that process in, so there are a couple of shortcut methods; they aren’t perfect but will get the job done if you’re just interested in throwing down dinner for the family.
- You can spray each side of the tortillas with cooking oil and toss them into a hot pan until they aren’t crisp but have firmed up a bit.
- You can also spray both sides, lay them on a rack and bake for a few minutes at 400 degrees F. until the edges have crisped up just a bit.
- Some people spray and put a stack of about six of them at a time and microwave for about a minute or just spray the tortillas and don’t heat them at all. To me, these last two methods are the worst.
How to Serve Your Enchiladas:
These enchiladas are rich and I love to serve mine with Cotija cheese (or Feta) and some lime. The assertive Cotija adds a burst of flavor that balances the sauce and the lime is essential in my mind. Other than that, you can go with lettuce, tomato, maybe a little shaved radish, or maybe you’d like some black olives.
First of all, I should qualify and say not all Mexican Rice is red. It comes in all the colors of the flag, I heard once. I have an Instant Pot Mexican Red Rice on my site, an Instant Pot Mexican Rice with a more American twist and I have a more traditional Mexican Red Rice using a standard cooking method if you don’t have an Instant Pot. And I have green rice, too, on my site, Arroz Verde, Mexican Green Rice. And of course, I have Cilantro Lime Rice, in the Instant Pot or Not. I don’t know many bloggers that don’t have a recipe for that – and that might not even be Mexican at all. Who knows? That’s rhetorical.
How to Store Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo:
Store in the fridge. I find it’s better to put the enchiladas in a container and then cool, then add the lid after the enchiladas are cool. Cooling this way helps to prevent excess moisture forming which can make the enchiladas soggy. Reheat in the microwave.
Enchiladas can be frozen for short periods of time, a month or two. Simply bake them from frozen at 350 degrees F.; you’ll need to cover them for the first 20 minutes then uncover for about another 10 or until heated through.
How to Use the Sauce, Besides in Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo:
The sauce in this recipe is a generous amount. You might choose to not use all of it, and while this makes incredible enchiladas, you can use the sauce in a whole bunch of different ways! Preferably with cheese! Here are a few to get you started, but if you have your own ninja way with Enchilada Sauce I’d love to hear it!
- Make Greem Chili Cheese Fries: Smother cooked fries with the sauce and add cheese. If the sauce is warm enough it will melt the cheese. If you use chunky cheese, like cheese curds, or if the cheese doesn’t melt, toss the dish in the oven, under the broiler, or in the microwave.
- Make a Chili Cheese Baked Potato or Baked Sweet Potato: No brainer. Just open your potato, top with the sauce and cheese! Add a dollop of sour cream if you lean that way.
- Chili Cheese Burgers: Smother your burger with the enchilada sauce (immediately before serving) and add cheese, your fave condiments and you’re done! You may need a fork!
- Green Chili Cheese Rito: While it’s not the same as the old famous Taco Bell version, try a schmear of chili across a flour tortilla, add cheese, roll up, and microwave for about 30 to 40 seconds for an ooey, gooey treat.
- Green Chili Queso: Add some sauce to jarred queso or melt cheese in with your sauce (it will be a little difficult to fully incorporate, so just go with the flow) and heat. Serve with chips or tortillas.
Your chiles are always going to be at a lower price in late summer and early fall when in season, but they won’t break the bank. The price per pound always looks steep but you only need a few.
I covered several options for the chicken above, but whatever chicken you use (white meat preferred, here) know that buying and cooking your own is cheaper than using a Rotisserie chicken. Look for breasts at a rock bottom (they’ll drop to a low about once a quarter) and stock your freezer when they’re on sale.
Check around when you buy tortillas. Check the refrigerator section, the “Mexican” food aisle, and the aisle of American Mexican foods and pay attention to the end caps. What I look for is a great price, under a dollar for a dozen, and even without a coupon, without a sale, it’s always easy to find. Make Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips or Chilaquiles with any leftover tortillas.
Well, today is Mother’s Day which can be bittersweet for some I know, but here’s wishing a happy one to you! And what a week it’s been in Georgia…first Cinco de Mayo and yesterday I celebrated in true Southern Fashion, the Kentucky Derby. The last time I think I wore a dress with a hat had to be my wedding in 1991! Today, horseback riding. I’m still loving on Georgia!
Take care, all, and I hope you enjoy these Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo any time of the year!
XO Mollie XOPrint
Enchiladas Verdes de Pollo
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
- Category: main dish
- Cuisine: Mexican or Southwestern
For the Chicken:
- about 3/4 pound chicken breast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon marjoram or oregano
For the Enchilada Sauce:
- 3 largish poblano peppers
- 1 onion, sliced horizontally into three chunks
- 4 cloves of garlic, hard end trimmed off
- 1 or 2 jalapenos
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup cilantro, optional
- 1 generous teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon marjoram or oregano
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- Cooked and shredded chicken (above)
- 10 to 12 corn tortillas, conditioned (see body of text)
- 1 to 2 cups meltable cheese, shredded, prefer Monterrey Jack
- Garnishes: Your choice of Cotija or Feta cheese, lime wedges, lettuce, tomato avocado, red onion, radish, etc.
For the Chicken:
Place chicken in saucepan, cover with water by about 2 inches. Add the salt and marjoram (or oregano) and bring to a bare simmer. (Bubbles should be coming up about two or three at a time.) Simmer for about 10 minutes or until cooked through, turning now and then. If time allows, let cool in the liquid.
Shred, either by hand or with a beater. Taste and adjust seasoning.
For the Enchilada Sauce:
Line sheet pan with foil. Add the Poblanos (touching each other) the onions, jalapeno and garlic. Broil until peppers and other items are slightly charred and blistered, turning and removing as each item as needed. Wrap everything up in the foil and allow to steam for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Peel and pick off as much of the skin on the peppers as possible. Open up and remove seeds and ribs if desired. Remove stem. Squeeze garlic out of the skins, remove any skin on the onion. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic to the blender with any juices. Add the cilantro if using. Add salt, cumin, and marjoram along with the vinegar. Blend until as smooth as possible.
Heat oil in a saucepan or pot with high sides. Add the sauce and allow to bubble, stirring often for two to three minutes until desired consistency is reached.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix shredded chicken with the cheese.
Spray a baking pan with oil, then place about 3/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom.
Condition tortillas using one of the methods in the post, above. Working with a few at a time, add filling, about 1/4 cup (mentally divide it) and roll, place seam side down in pan. When finished, cover with sauce. Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes until heated thoroughly. Remove from oven, garnish as desired.
Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, Cheese, Chicken, Chicken Breast, cotija cheese, enchiladas, Hot Peppers, Jalapeno, Mexican or Southwestern, Monterey Jack, Poblano Peppers, tortillas