Sunday, January 2, 2011
Enchiladas suizas have been a part of Mexico's food tradition for a very long time. They are thought to date back to the area which is now Mexico City even before the days of Spaniard Hernan Cortez. The word suiza is Spanish for "Swiss", which refers to the the Swiss immigrants in Mexico who had established dairies and cheese production in the country. Thanks to them, these enchiladas are often topped with a sour cream like sauce, or as I prefer, a generous crumbling of queso fresco or cotija cheese. Enchiladas have three basic components, tortilla, some type of filling, and a spicy sauce. The word "Enchilar" in Spanish means to make spicy. In the case of enchiladas suizas the tortilla should be corn, the filling is chicken, and the sauce is a spicy green tomatillo sauce. The result: delicioso! As are many of my favorites, this is a great make ahead meal, and can be made in large quantities to feed a crowd. When you buy the tomatillos, a strongly advise you to go to an ethnic market or ranch market, you will get fresher tomatillos, and spend half the money. Your mainstream supermarket will consider this a specialty ingredient, charge you twice the price,and the product doesn't move, so you will lose freshness. Venture out! So roll up your sleeves and get started, your enchiladas are going to be tasty.
for the tomatillo sauce:
1 1/2-2 pounds green tomatillos, husked and rinsed
3-4 fresh serrano chiles
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
1 14 oz. can of chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste
Ingredients for the enchiladas:
about 15 corn tortillas, maybe more depending on how big of a batch you want to make
about 3/4 - 1 pound shredded cooked chicken (I go to Costco and buy a rotisserie chicken, and use all the meat from that. Easy, flavorful,and moist.
12 oz. queso fresco or cotija Mexican cheese. Use more or less, depending on your desired taste.
First, prepare the tomatillo sauce. You need to boil the tomatillos and chile. Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling hard, put the tomatillos and the serrano chiles which you have stemmed, and removed seeds. Boil them for about 5 minutes, then drain and cool.
Next, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion becomes nicely golden. Then, put your onion and garlic into your food processor with the tomatillo and chile mixture and blend the mixture until it is a somewhat chunky puree. It should be smooth enough to hold together, but not overly processed.
To finish the sauce, heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the same skillet you used to cook the onion and garlic. When it is hot, add the tomatillo/onion puree and stir it constantly for about 5 minutes over medium heat. The sauce should thicken and darken somewhat in color. Now add about a cup of the chicken broth to the sauce, stir well, and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir the sauce ofter. If it seems too watery, continue to simmer until desired consistency is reached. If it is too thick, add additional broth. At the end, stir in the chopped cilantro and salt to taste. You will not need to put much salt,as the sauce is really flavorful, and the broth will have salt already. Your sauce can be made a day in advance if you need.
You are now ready to assemble the enchiladas. I usually use a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish. Use whatever oven proof baking dish you desire. Right before making the enchiladas you need to steam the tortillas, I do them 4 or 5 at a time in the microwave.Just put them in a plastic produce bag with an air hole to vent, and microwave them for 30-45 seconds.
To get the chicken ready, I put the shredded chicken in a mixing bowl, and a add about a cup of the sauce mixture and stir to combine. You want the chicken to be nice and moist with sauce, but not soggy. You also need to save yourself enough sauce to top the enchiladas at the end.
Roll a portion of the chicken filling into your tortillas, and lay them in the baking dish side by side. When done, blanket the tortillas with a nice coat of remaining tomatillo sauce. Generously crumble the queso fresco or cotija cheese over the top. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 40 minutes. At the very end, turn on the broiler, and let the cheese on top get that golden brown color. Be careful not to burn. Your enchiladas are now ready to serve. They can be served alone, or with some rice, beans, or salad as a side. Serve with a nice cold Mexican beer like Bohemia or Negra Modelo. Buen Provecho!