Last night was Mexican food night at our house. I've cooked a lot of things since I last posted, and I'll be sure to include each and every main dish and appetizer on this blog in the coming days, I promise. But last night is just so fresh in my head, and the taste of these enchiladas are still so fresh on my tongue, that I had to write about this dinner first.
You could say this dinner was a team effort between Tyler Florence and Bobby Flay. The chicken enchiladas recipe was found here on the Food Network and is what Tyler considers the "ultimate chicken enchilada". It really IS good. Creamy, spicy, and substantial. It's not one of those enchiladas that's filled with 10 lbs. of cheese and a few pieces of tasteless chicken. No... it's got a lot going on and it was worth the time it took to make these.
Yes, this recipe was a bit more labor intensive than the enchilada recipes you may be used to, but if it's Saturday and you don't have anything else planned and you want to serve a very good Mexican dinner, I highly suggest these enchiladas.
On the side, we served Bobby Flay's Corn with Roasted Chiles, Crème Fraiche, and Cotija Cheese. This is a side dish that he serves at Mesa Grill in NYC and one that Mark and I loved as soon as we tasted it. After the first couple of chews, we both said "we're making this". It is the perfect side dish for a southwestern-type meal when you just don't want to serve black beans and rice again (not that there's anything WRONG with that!) You can find this recipe in Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Cookbook.
Let's start with how to make the enchiladas...
Start by roasting a small chicken (about 3 pounds). Yes, you could use boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you feel you must, but you'll be sacrificing some major flavor and juiciness. If you want a shortcut, I would suggest buying a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and using that meat instead.
You can reference my last post for help on how to roast the chicken if you need to. However, for this recipe, there's no need for all the herbs and wine. Instead, just stuff the middle with some carrots, onion, and celery, rub it with olive oil, and season it with just salt and pepper. Follow the same method of roasting it at a higher temperature first, then drop it down. Instead of basting the chicken with wine towards the end, use some beer. Roast it until it registers 175 degrees internal temperature.
Next, rip off little pieces of crunchy skin and eat it...
What? Don't tell me you wouldn't do the same thing. As Mark declared last night, "they're like chicken-y potato chips". Hell yes! haha...
Anyway, while the chicken is in the oven doing its thing, go ahead and get started on the Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa.
To make this green, spicy salsa, start by peeling the husks off of your tomatillos. This is actually the first time I've worked with tomatillos. They have a very tangy flavor and really added a bold, delicious element to this recipe. They're also something different from the norm and that's always fun.
Grab a cookie sheet and cover it with foil (so it catches all the juices). Put your tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapenos on the sheet and roast them at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes (or until the vegetables are tender and starting to look a little charred).
Put the roasted vegetables in a food processor and season with cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice.
Pulse until combined, but the salsa should still be a little chunky. And baby, it's spicy! But don't worry, once it's combined with everything later in this recipe, the spiciness is toned way down to the point where there's some spice, but not too much.
By now, the chicken should be cooled and you can shred the meat. Set aside.
Next, sauté some onion in a pan until soft and caramelized.
Now, add the garlic and cumin and cook another minute.
Then, sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn.
Now, gradually add the chicken stock to make a velouté. According to Wikipedia, a velouté sauce, along with Béchamel, espagnole, hollandaise, and tomato, is one of the classic 5 mother sauces of French cuisine. Commonly the sauce produced will be referred to by the type of stock used e.g. chicken velouté.
Continue stirring over very low heat until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. It should look and have the consistency of a gravy when it's ready.
Next, turn off the heat and add half of the Tomatillo Chile Salsa, some additional chopped fresh cilantro, and all the shredded chicken meat. I also added 2 tablespoons of sour cream to up the creaminess of the chicken filling. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
The next step to this enchilada-making bonanza is to briefly toast the flour tortillas over the open stove flame. Using tongs, place the tortilla right on the burner grate. The flame should just be on medium-low. Move the tortilla around with the tongs so it doesn't burn in one place and flip it after just a few seconds. You'll be able to gauge how long to leave it on each side yourself. You're looking for little brown blisters all over the tortilla.
Shred up some Monterey Jack cheese (or Colby-Jack like I did). Have your chicken mixture, tortillas, and cheese nearby because it's time to assemble the enchiladas.
Start by putting a little Tomatillo Chile Salsa on the bottom of the baking dish you'll be using to bake your enchiladas. Then, pour the rest of the salsa onto a plate and spread it out.
To assemble the enchiladas, first lay your tortilla down on top of the plate of salsa and press down so the one side is covered.
Top the tortilla as it lays on the salsa with some of the chicken mixture and some shredded cheese.
Then, roll the enchilada up like a cigar and place it into the baking dish.
Sprinkle some more cheese over the top of the enchiladas, then pop them into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
As I mentioned before, we served the enchiladas with Bobby Flay's delicious Corn with Roasted Chiles, Crème Fraiche, and Cotija Cheese. Yum, yum, yum! Bobby describes this recipe as his version of creamed corn - only spicy and rich. It's creamy, citrusy, and spicy and unlike any other side dish I've ever had. It's bursting with flavor and a bowl of this could be a meal on its own.
For this recipe, you'll want to use corn on the cob and slice it off with a knife. You can use frozen or canned corn, but the flavor is going to be better if you cut it right off the cob. We got our corn at the West Side Market in Cleveland and it was nice and sweet and very tasty.
To make this side dish, start by sautéing some red onion in canola oil until soft.
Next, add garlic and one roasted serrano pepper (I used one roasted jalapeno, but either would work. Serrano peppers are hotter.).
After a couple minutes, stir in a roasted poblano pepper, a roasted red pepper (I used red and yellow pepper), and the corn.
Cook, stirring often, until the corn is tender - about 10 minutes. This is such a pretty, colorful dish.
Stir in butter, crème fraiche, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the corn mixture with cotija cheese right before serving. It's creamy, spicy, and rustic. I love it!
These two dishes paired perfectly. It was so good, we're having the leftovers tonight and I can't wait! Take the time and make these - it's really worth it.