This is an enchilada cassarole dish that my in-laws would sometimes serve at our Sunday dinners. It was my younger son's favorite and he always requested it for his birthday.
It took me a few years, but I finally made it this Xmas (2007). It was a success and a lot easier to make than I had thought it would be.
As I did before, I'm reprinting the recipe here exactly as I received it. But now I'm following it with a few notes.
As I received it:4/26/03 (Trujillo's kitchen) 325°F oven 12 servings INGREDIENTS: 10 coriander (cilantro) little branches 1 big yellow onion 3-4 garlic cloves 3-5 Serrano chiles (hot peppers) salt to taste 2 lbs. tomatillos 4-5 skinless chicken breasts. 2 doz. corn tortillas 1-8oz Cotija cheese 1/2 cup or more of oil for frying Sour cream if desired FIRST PROCEDURE. REMOVE: tomatillo husks, and stems from Serrano chiles. RINSE: tomatillos, chiles, and coriander in plain water. SHRED: Cotija cheese FRY: tortillas until tender, not toasted. Dry excess oil with paper towels. BOIL: chicken with about five cups of water, until it's cooked. Take it out and shred it. BOIL: in the chicken stock the first six ingredientes until tomatillos are tender, then BLEND: to make about 2 cups of salsa; not watery, not solid. If it's too watery, boil it some more. SECOND PROCEDURE. USE AN OVEN PROOF PAN AND PLACE: 1st, one layer of fried tortillas 2nd. one layer of shredded chicken 3rd. salsa, 4rd. sprinkle sour cream as much as you like 5th. cover it with cheese Repeat all layers and finish with cheese; bake until cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. ENJOY!!!!!
- Availability of the ingredients, such as tomatillos, may vary by region, locale, or season. Here in Orange County, Calif, I found everything I needed at a Stater Brothers at the end of December. If you have trouble finding an ingredient, you might try looking for a Mexican food store.
- My sister contributed the chicken breasts, so I don't know how much the entire dish cost. Not counting the chicken, the rest cost me about $16.00. Not bad for 12 servings.
- You could prepare it as regular rolled enchiladas, but that's a lot of work, especially considering the size of the family, so my in-laws have always prepared it as a casserole.
To be honest, I'm not sure just how to work the rolled enchiladas, mainly not being sure exactly what would go inside the enchiladas and what would go on top. But feel free to work it out for yourself; please let me know what you did and how it turned out.
- The recipe makes a casserole that fits easily into a single 13 in x 9 in casserole dish. This was one of my big concerns, because at family dinners my in-laws always made two big pans.
- Corn tortillas are made from a corn meal dough called "masa", which is also used in making tamales. My mother-in-law told me that if we don't fry the tortillas, then the cooking will turn them back into masa. In other words, fry them slightly so that they'll keep their shape in the final product, but you don't want them to be crisp. Off-hand, it seemed like less than one minute each.
- Follow the layering sequence as above. However, I had started with the bottom-most layer being tortillas and I noticed that that layer ended up a bit tough from the baking. My older son, who had studied the Food Channel while he lived on his own in college, said that you shouldn't put the tortilla layer on the bottom, just as you never put the pasta layer on the bottom when building a lasagna. Makes sense to me and I'll try it that way next time.
- Queso cotija is a dry crumbly cheeze. I found as I was grating it that about half of the block had crumbled away into small pieces on the outside of the grate. Then with clean hands, I just rubbed some of the larger chunks between my hands down into smaller chunks to finish the job.
- Don't overlook taking a blender to the salsa; I used a Braun Multiquick Handblender, but I'm sure that my in-laws use a standard blender. What you end up with is a smooth green salsa that looks like what you'd buy in the store. It's tasty to use on food, but my son didn't think it had enough salt for it to serve as a dipping salsa; as the recipe says, "salt to taste".
Following the recipe produced enough salsa for the casserole and still have about 1/2 a cup left over. My niece put that to good use as a salsa to top her rice-and-corn dish.
- I should have paid more attention to the clock, but it seems to me that it would take 4 hours to prepare this dish from start to finish. Roughly, that would be an hour to cook the chicken and get the salsa started, two hours to cook down the salsa and shred the chicken while you're waiting, and one hour to assemble the casserole and bake it. Remember, this is made from scratch.
However, what I did was to prepare all the ingredients a couple days before, and then at my sister's I fried the tortillas and assembled and baked the casserole. It took a bit longer to bake, which I suspect was due to everything having been refrigerated.
Share and enjoy!
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First uploaded on 2007 November 16.
Last updated on 2011 July 08.