So A. and I got in a heated Top 5 discussion last night. We take our Top 5s seriously.
You know, Top 5 favorite beverages, Top 5 vacation destinations, Top 5 concerts you’d like to see.
Important things like that.
Last night’s Top 5 du jour was Top 5 favorite smells. Innocent enough, right? Um, no.
Things went south when the conversation devolved into Top 5 least favorite smells. I’m still not sure why we opted to travel down that road, but we did.
I shared my list containing all the usual suspects: the smell of new plastic dodgeballs, burnt toast smell, the Jersey Turnpike on a hot summer day (no need to send Jersey hate mail -I was born in New Jersey- I tease because I love).
So then A. shares his list:
Canned dog food. Ok.
Canned tuna. Well, I don’t agree, but alright.
Fresh lavender. Huh?
I’m sorry that just does not compute.
How can you hate the smell of fresh lavender? That’s nonsense!
Do you also hate puppies and ice cream sundaes? Sheesh.
Cue the ridiculously long, still unresolved discussion about burnt toast vs. fresh lavender and Mars vs. Venus.
You’re wondering why I’m sharing this story with you. Uh, so am I.
Roasting chiles was on my list of Top 5 favorite smells. Roasted chiles are in my recipe for salsa verde. Salsa verde is a key component to my recipe for enchiladas suizas. We’re talking about enchiladas suizas on SB today. Forget Kevin Bacon, we just played 6 Degrees of M.’s Crazy Brain!
I love enchiladas suizas. I really do. What’s not to like?
Even though they are traditionally baked and served in a cream sauce, they still taste light and fresh to me, probably because of all of the freshness that goes into the green chile sauce that serves as the foundation of the dish.
I like to bake my enchiladas to a crisp. Maybe throw the broiler on for the last five minutes. Just delicious.
I’m throwing a party for A. tonight and I’m serving enchiladas suizas. My tablescape will include a gorgeous bouquet of fresh lavender in the center. You don’t think he’ll notice, do you?
I’ll just distract him with a plate full of enchiladas…
For the enchiladas:
3 large chicken breasts, skinless, boneless (mine weighed approximately 2.25 pounds total)
2 c. water
4 bay leaves
1 tsp. oregano, dried (preferably Mexican oregano)
8- 6″ flour or corn tortillas
1 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
For the salsa verde:
10 tomatillos, husked
4 jalapeño chiles
2 serrano chiles
1 white onion, peeled, ends removed
1/2 c. cilantro, packed
2 tbsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin, ground
1/2 tsp. salt
Please note that the recipes for the salsa verde and the chicken produce extra salsa and extra chicken beyond what you’ll need for the enchiladas. You can simply store and reuse the remainder of both.
To prepare the chicken, place the chicken, water, bay leaves and oregano in the bowl of a slow cooker. Cook on high, covered, for 2-3 hours, until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove the chicken, drain it (you can discard the water and seasonings), and shred the meat with a fork. Set aside. (Note that this is how I like to prepare my chicken, but you could really cook it any way that you choose. My recipe yields about 4 1/2 cups of shredded chicken. You’ll need only about 2 cups for the enchiladas. You could even shred the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken – you just need 2 cups of shredded meat.)
To prepare the salsa, place the tomatillos, chiles and onion in a cast iron skillet or on a sheet pan. Place on the top rack of your oven and broil on high until vegetables are charred and fragrant (this took about 10 minutes under my broiler). Note that you should keep an eye on the vegetables as they broil and turn then and/or rotate the pan as they cook to insure even charring. Remove the broiled vegetables and halve the onion, halve and core the tomatillos, and peel and stem the chiles. Place the vegetables with all of the other ingredients for the salsa in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until chunky-smooth. Remove the salsa to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, warm the tortillas over a low flame on a comal or in a dry pan. Once the tortillas are warm and pliable, dip both sides of one in the salsa, lay it flat, and place 1/4 – 1/3 cup of shredded chicken on its center. Roll the tortilla and place it, seam side down, in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Repeat with the remainder of the tortillas. Once the tortillas are all rolled, mix 2 cups of the salsa with the heavy cream. Pour the mixture over the rolled tortillas and agitate the dish to make sure that the sauce is distributed as evenly as possible. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake the enchiladas for approximately 30 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the sauce is bubbling at the edges of the dish. You may opt to broil the enchiladas for a minute or two at the end of baking, just to get an even crispier finish. Remove and serve immediately.
YIELD: approximately 6 servings