Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Enchiladas are a main stay in traditional New Mexican and most Tex-Mex restaurants. Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas are the most popular entrée in most New Mexican restaurants. I think after you make these, you might just agree that they are so easy to make and are more flavorful than you can get most anywhere. The rich chicken broth based sauce is so much more delicious than just the thickened green chile juice which is so often served.

Freshly roasted green chiles always create the very best and freshest flavor and are generally available most everywhere. Even though they are the New Mexican type green chiles, they are generally sold as Anaheim chiles. I have found them in Europe, Canada and most everywhere in the United States. 


These are the traditional favorite of most visitors to New Mexico. And they are very popular with natives as well. The yummy green chile sauce tucked between layers of tortilla and richly melted  with cheese makes for a delicious entrée that can be readied two hours before baking if desired.
The green chile sauce is basic, yet versatile and can be used to create enchiladas, or pour over chimichangas or burritos.  Seafood, beef or beans can be substituted for the chicken, or take out the meat for a vegetarian version.

Yield:  4 servings

8  white, yellow or blue corn tortillas
1 cup oil for frying, optional
1 recipe Green Chile Sauce, attached
¾ cup 50/50 mixture of grated Cheddar & Monterey Jack cheese, or to taste 
½ cup or 1 medium-sized onion, chopped finely
¼ cup sour cream

New Mexico Green Chile Sauce
Yield:  2 cups

1 tablespoon butter or lard
2/3 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup (or more) chopped green chiles
1 cup cooked chopped chicken
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of ground comino (cumin)

Garni: 1 Tablespoon crushed caribe chile, 6 leaves each coarsely chopped Romaine and red leaf lettuce, 4 tomato wedges for each serving

1. For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion until soft. Stir in the flour.
2. Add the broth. Then add chiles, garlic, salt and comino.
3. Simmer for 20 minutes; then use for making enchiladas.
4. If desired, heat oil on medium high heat in a small skillet, when oil is hot; lightly fry them. If not frying, just use tortillas right from the package.  If rolling the tortillas, they must be lightly fried.
5. For Flat Enchiladas:  Preheat the oven to 350 F about 15 minutes before serving. For each, place a spoonful of green chile sauce on the plate, then top with a tortilla, followed by a spoonful of sauce, spread to edges of the tortilla.  Then sprinkle  cheese and  onion and add another tortilla and repeat. Heat in a preheated  moderate 350 F oven until the cheese melts.  To serve, top each enchilada with a dollop of sour cream and a generous sprinkle  of caribe chile flakes.  Encircle each enchilada with Romaine lettuce first, then red leaf and place tomato wedges facing the same direction equally spaced around the enchilada. .

Variation for Rolled Enchiladas:  Dip the lightly fried tortilla into the sauce and place a strip of each grated cheese and chopped onion down the center.  Roll and top with more sauce and cheese.  To serve a crowd, place the rolled enchiladas in a large, shallow baking dish, but do not cover with sauce.   Just before serving, heat in a moderate 350F oven.  Warm the sauce separately and add just as you are ready to serve.  Do not overcook or the enchiladas will be very mushy.  Top with additional cheese and reheat until it melts.  Add lettuce around edges before serving.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Roasting Green Chiles

Green chiles are a passion, almost an obsession with New Mexicans
And almost anyone who has ever tried them

New Mexico has been home to the green chiles for eons and eons. In fact, green chiles have been so popular for so long, every man, woman and child on average eats over a bushel per person per year, resulting in almost no excess for export.

Green chiles are the unripe form of red chiles. All chiles tattle tale their spiciness or heat by their configuration or appearance. The three indexes to heat are-

                Narrow shoulders
                Pointed tip
                Darker color for its type

The reverse is true for milder chiles —
                Broad shoulders
                Blunt tip
                Lighter color

These guidelines are important to know, because any one chile plant can have up to 15 different piquancies or levels of spice at any one time. If you definitely like chiles hotter or milder, knowing how to select the chiles of your choice becomes much easier.

Green chiles are highly perishable, so should be refrigerated, once picked.  They have the freshest flavor and texture if roasted within a few days. 

The best method for roasting chiles is to—

1. Wash them, removing all soil,
2. Prick the chiles with a sharp knife, making a slit about a half inch long lengthwise just below the stem.
3. Place the chiles on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil if roasting in the kitchen under the broiler.  If roasting over a hot, direct fire on an outdoor grill, the chiles can be placed directly on the grate.  Either way you select to roast—leave under or on the heat source until the first side of each chile becomes darkly blistered.  Then rotate each and repeat, at least 3 times. DO NOT CONTINUE TO TURN THEM AS THEY WILL NOT PROPERLY ROAST OR PARCH—THEY WILL BE STEAMED.
4. When uniformly blistered, place the chiles in ice water to stop the cooking and maintain a crisp texture.  Just for the record, the chiles will also retain a much brighter color and more nutrition than if you just let them cool at room temperature.  When the chiles are cool to the touch, remove them from the ice water and drain.   
5. If freezing, place the drained whole chiles (unpeeled) on cookie sheets and freeze.  When solid, place in heavy weight freezer bags that you have labeled and dated.  Now, you can use just one or many chiles by placing them under warm water for a few minutes and the skin pulls right off.