Having lived in Austin, Texas, for a combined nine years, I am pretty picky about my Tex-Mex food. In fact, I’ve been to only one Mexican restaurant here in the New York Capital Region in 12 years because, quite frankly, no place in these parts can measure up to Chuy’s, my beloved Chuy’s. (And don’t tell me to go to El Loco or El Mariachi or El Anything because, well, trust me, just because.)
However, I am not averse to making Tex-Mex food at home, even though I do not have a drop of Latino blood in me and can barely remember my college Spanish. Ay caramaba! (Where do they keep the upside down exclamation point on this thing?)
So my Tex-Mex specialty is Enchiladas Verde, which family members tell me is as close to Chuy’s as anything they’ve ever had. Thank you Tyler Florence of the Food Network. I typically make both chicken enchiladas and cheese (or even tofu) enchiladas for the vegetarians. You could put whatever you want in the enchilada. As far as I’m concerned, the key is the roasted tomatillo sauce that goes on top. A. Maze. Ing.
Here you go…
Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa:
1 pound tomatillos, husked
1 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole
4 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 lime, juiced
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, storebought (or vegetable stock if you’re going veggie)
Chopped cilantro leaves
1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded (or tofu or whatever)
Freshly ground black pepper
10 large flour tortillas
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 cups sour cream
Chopped tomatoes and cilantro leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
For the salsa:
On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky.
Meanwhile heat a 2 count of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. (Two count? Whatever that is. Just pour some olive oil in the pan. Not too much.) Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized – this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for a further minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn’t burn then gradually add the chicken stock to make a veloute. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add half of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. (At this point, if you are making some veggie enchiladas, divide the sauce and put chicken into half of it.) Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Change the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F and begin assembling the dish. Take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Now take the flour tortillas and briefly flash them over the stove-top flame (or put them briefly under the broiler if using an electric stove). Using a shallow bowl, coat each tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix. Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it. Using a spatula place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas. Finally pour over some more of the salsa and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish, cilantro and tomato.
Serve hot with black beans or refried beans and yellow rice, the remaining tomatillo salsa, sour cream and fresh guacamole, if desired. And a cold Tecate. Can someone get me a cold Tecate?
Note: I find that there’s just not enough tomatillo sauce sometimes. Can you ever have enough roasted tomatillo sauce? My answer is NO! So, if you’re like me, you might want to increase the sauce recipe.