Enchiladas Suizas

When life hands you tomatillos, make...

Normally I'd have completed that sentence with the only answer obvious to me: mole verde. But I wasn't in the mood for mole verde. What to do?

I had received these small, firm, tart green tomatoes as part of a veggie co-op share, and was scratching my head for a few days about what to do with them. Finally I bit the bullet and got out my trusty book on "Authentic Mexican" cooking written by Rick Bayless, and he showed me the light. With his guidance I made enchiladas suizas for the very first time.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

First gather up some tomatillos (about 1 lb), an onion, jalapeno peppers (the recipe calls for 2, but I went mercifully on my spice-averse 8-year-old and used only 1), and a clove of garlic. Cut the jalapenos lengthwise and remove the seeds, husk the tomatillos, and coarsely chop the onion and garlic.

In a saucepan, bring to a boil 5 cups of water along with another 1/2 onion, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. marjoram, 1/2 tsp. thyme, and 2 bay leaves.

Add a small package of chicken breast meat (about 1.5 lbs) to the boiling mixture and reduce to a simmer to poach the chicken for about 13 minutes. Let the chicken cool in the broth.

Meanwhile, poach the husked but whole tomatillos along with the seeded jalapenos in boiling salted water until tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Drain the tomatillos and jalapenos and place in a blender or food processor along with the onion and garlic (and 5-6 sprigs cilantro, but we left it out for my cilantro-averse husband... um... we're not normally such a picky family, I swear!).

Process until smooth but still retaining a little texture.

Heat 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and pour the sauce in all at once. Stir constantly for 4-5 minutes. Add 2 cups chicken broth, return to a boil, and simmer about 10 minutes or until thick enough to coat a spoon.

Meanwhile, shred the cooled chicken.

Add 1 cup whipping cream to the sauce once it has finished simmering, and keep on a very gentle heat until ready to use.

Prep 12 corn tortillas by quick-frying them in a pan or on a griddle in a little oil for 2-3 seconds on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Assemble the enchiladas by pouring a cup of the warm sauce onto a plate, then lay each tortilla in the sauce, flip it over, and lay 2 tablespoons of the filling across the center and roll it up. Transfer to a baking dish, and continue until all the tortillas are filled.

Next pour the sauce over the enchiladas, being careful to cover the ends, and top with 6 oz (1 1/2 cups) of Monterey Jack cheese.

Transfer the dish to the 350 degree oven and bake for 10 minutes. I broiled mine for a couple of minutes at the end to make the cheese nice and golden.

I served the enchiladas with refried beans and rice. To have everything done at the same time, start these while your tomatillos are poaching. I was a little lazy with the refried beans:

but I doctored them up by frying a bit of onion in some olive oil, then adding the beans to the pan along with a bit of chicken broth to heat gently until the other food was ready.

Here they are in the pan:

For the rice (also from Rick Bayless) I added 1 cup rice along with 1 chopped onion to a small bit of heated olive oil in a sauce pan, sauteeing til golden. Then I added a finely diced clove of garlic.

I parboiled some diced carrots, then drained them.

I added 1 ripe, chopped tomato along with 1 1/2 cups broth (stolen from the poached chicken above) and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook 15 minutes over low heat. Let rice stand, covered, for another 5-10 minutes after cooking. Then add the parboiled carrots, and peas and cilantro as well if you so choose.

Here's mine with the tomatoes and carrots only. Peas would have been a nice touch, only we didn't have any.

And, here's our yummy plate of enchiladas suizas, rice, and refried beans!