Although I lived in Los Angeles for many years, I in no way claim to know much about authentic Mexican food. I'm completely aware of what is not authentic (read: Taco Bell), and thus have experienced some dishes that I would consider to be more on the authentic side in relation to those. When it comes to enchiladas, one thing I'm sure of is that they are supposed to be made with corn tortillas. I also know that adding sour cream as a condiment is a very American addition. I'm also pretty sure that melting cheese on top of enchiladas is more American than Mexican (filling them with cheese, however, is perfectly fine as far as I'm concerned). Whenever I've had really good enchiladas they are usually smothered in sauce, and left at that. Naked and cheeseless. Pure and delicious. So with those few guidelines, I went to work to create something I would be proud of and want to share.
In preparing this meal today, I wanted to use as many shortcuts as I could (I'm going on about 4 1/2 hours of sleep at this point), and also use up some ingredients that we already had on hand. My sister had canned corn which I used, although I usually prefer fresh or frozen. Use whatever you like. We also had a blend of shredded Mexican cheeses that were prepackaged, so we went with that. You can use any cheese you like that compliments Mexican cuisine (although most that I probably associate are American cheeses like Monterey Jack and Cheddar... not really Mexican at all). In any case, my experiment turned out pretty amazing. The salsa verde was SO good. Next time I will double the recipe and make extra to enjoy on its own with tortilla chips. I was also pretty pleased looking back on the meal that it was surprisingly low in fat for Mexican food. The most fattening part is the cheese and I only used 1 cup (or 4 oz of shredded cheese) for the entire recipe, which splits up to about 6-8 servings. There is minimal olive oil used in the rest of the recipe, and the corn tortillas were only 1.5 grams of fat for 2. Not bad. I will definitely revisit this recipe again.
Chicken and Corn Enchiladas Verde with Refried Black Beans
Serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 lb tomatillos, husks removed, washed, and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 jalapeno peppers
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
1 4-5 lb rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, shredded
1 cup corn
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Cheddar, etc)
About 15 corn tortillas (the amount of filling may vary depending on the size of your chicken)
Refried Black Beans:
4 15.5 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 T. chipotle sauce
2 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Water, as needed
To make the salsa, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the tomatillos and onions with the 1 tsp. of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste on a sheet pan. Off to one side add the jalapeno peppers in a "nest" of aluminum foil. This way in case the tomatillos release a lot of liquid, the peppers can still dry roast.
Roast for about 30 minutes, occasionally turning the jalapenos so they cook evenly. They should be fairly tender with the skin beginning to blister, while the tomatillos are completely softened at this point.
Remove as much skin as you can from the peppers, remove the stem and seeds, roughly chop, and add them to a blender with the roasted tomatillos, onion, cumin, coriander, and cilantro. Blend for about 15-20 seconds until it is nicely pureed. Season to taste and puree again briefly to combine. Set aside.
Next, start the beans. Heat up the olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sweat over medium heat, being careful not to burn the onions and garlic. Add the drained beans along with the chipotle sauce, cumin and salt. Cook the beans over medium heat until the begin to soften, smashing them with the back of a spoon against the edge of the pot to start breaking them down a bit, about 10 minutes. It will most likely seem a bit dry at this point, so add some water a little at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. Continue to cook about 10-15 minutes or so, adding more liquid if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To assemble the enchiladas, mix together the filling by combining the shredded chicken, corn, shredded cheese, and 1/2 a cup of the salsa verde.
The rest will be used to top the enchiladas. Grease a baking dish and set aside. The corn tortillas must be heated up so they can be rolled without breaking. There are a few ways you can do this. The best and most time consuming is to heat up each tortilla in a dry pan for a few seconds on each side to warm it enough to make it pliable. You can try heating more than one at a time by wrapping up a few tortillas in foil and putting them in the oven to warm, or use the microwave (according to the package directions) but this can affect the quality of the tortillas. The only problem is if you have too many tortillas heating up at once, by the time you get to the last few, if they have cooled significantly, they will break when you try to fill them, so heat them in batches if you can. Spoon some filling down the center of each warmed tortilla, a few generous tablespoons should easily fit.
Roll each tortilla like a cigar to encase the filling and place each on the greased baking dish seam-side down. When all the enchiladas have been assembled, ladle the remaining salsa verde over the enchiladas. It isn't necessary to bathe the enchiladas in a pool of salsa, but if you want a more generous coating you may want to just double the salsa recipe (it is worth it, even for snacking with chips.)
Bake the enchiladas uncovered for 20-25 minutes until heated through. The exposed parts of the tortillas will start to lightly brown, but this adds texture to the dish. Serve enchiladas with a side of refried black beans.