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Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe comes from Xochimilco, Mexico, where, long before the Spanish conquest, the Aztecs were raising vegetables, chiles and herbs on floating gardens encircling Tenochtitlán, their island capital.



  • 2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 1 garlic head, halved crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt


  • 3 pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 9 serrano chiles
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt, or to taste


  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 18 thin corn tortillas
  • 1 cup crema
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco


  1. Chicken: Place chicken in a saucepan with the onion, garlic and salt and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Let cool and lift out the chicken, saving the broth for another use. (The chicken can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 1 day before continuing.) Discard the skin and bones and shred the meat with your fingers.
  3. Sauce: In a saucepan, combine the tomatillos and chiles with water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. If some of the tomatillos remain firm, the pan should still be removed from the heat. Drain and, working in batches, place the tomatillos and chiles in a blender along with the garlic. Process until a smooth sauce forms.
  4. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until it is smoking. Quickly add the tomatillo sauce and fry, stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce starts to thicken, 5 minutes more. Add the 1 tablespoon salt; taste and add more salt, if needed. Keep warm. When the sauce is combined with the tortillas and chicken, the taste of salt will be quite diminished; it should be highly seasoned at this point. You should have 3 cups of sauce. If needed, add some of the chicken broth.
  5. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Enchiladas: In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until sizzling hot. Using tongs, quickly pass each tortilla through the oil to soften, then drain on paper towels.
  7. Using your fingers, dip each tortilla briefly in the warm sauce, place on a plate, put a large spoonful of shredded chicken near one edge and roll up the tortilla. Place, seam side down, in a baking dish. Cover with the remaining sauce. Bake until thoroughly heated, about 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the enchiladas from the oven and top with the crema, onion slices and crumbled cheese. Alternately, arrange the enchiladas on individual warmed plates and garnish before serving. Serve immediatelyenchiladas become soggy quickly.

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