Authentic Enchiladas Verdes

When we visit my parents’ place in Mexico the best part of our trip is always the food Moña, their housekeeper, prepares. She used to run a restaurant out of her house and she makes some classic Mexican dishes such as chilaquiles and chilies rellenos. Last time we visited she prepared enchiladas verdes. The tomatillo-based sauce was delicate and the cheese-filled enchiladas were absolutely delicious. I’ve been daydreaming of this dish ever since.

My folks are down there now so I asked my dad if he could get Moña to tell him the recipe. Instead, he made a video of her preparing them.

Moña doesn’t measure anything and we don’t have all the exact same ingredients here. It was a fun challenge to translate/transpose her method. I’ll definitely be making these again.

Green Enchiladas

Serves 4

Sauce:

  • 1/2 of an onion, divided
  • 1/2 of a fresh jalapeño, seeded
  • 3 garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos (about 15-20), husks removed
  • 1 packed cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup Mexican-style cream, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup reserved tomatillo liquid (see recipe instructions)
  • 2-4 teaspoons granulated chicken bouillon

Filling:

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 7 ounces crumbled queso fresco (about 1 1/2 cups), 8 ounces grated Manchego or Monterey jack (about 2 cups, divided)

Enchiladas:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place 1/4 of an onion, 1 garlic clove, jalapeño and tomatillos in a saucepan and add enough water to submerge everything. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, add the onion, garlic, jalapeño and tomatillos to a blender. Strain the tomatillo water through a mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup. Place any pulp from the sieve into the blender and pulse blender until smooth. Add cilantro and blend. Add 3/4 cup cream and blend.

Finely chop the 2 remaining cloves of garlic and 1/4 of an onion. Wipe dry the saucepan and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Heat oil and sauté garlic and onion till soft, about 2 minutes. Add the contents of the blender to the saucepan. Place 1/4 cup of tomatillo water in the blender and swish it around to loosen up any leftover sauce; add to the saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon and taste for saltiness. If it needs more salt, add more bouillon. Turn heat down and gently simmer for 10 minutes so sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and add remaining 1/4 cup of cream; set sauce aside while you prepare the filling.

Sauté the 1/3 cup chopped onion in olive oil until soft, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly and combine with the queso fresco and 1 cup of the Manchego or Monterey jack. Set aside the filling while you prepare the tortillas.

In a frying pan, add enough vegetable oil to liberally coat the pan, about 1/3 cup. Heat oil over high. Add the edge of a tortilla to see if the oil is ready. The tortilla should bubble a little in the oil. When oil is hot enough, add one tortilla and fry just a few seconds on each side, flipping three or four times. You don’t want the tortillas to become crispy, but the oil makes them more pliable. Lift tortilla out of pan and let the excess oil drip off the tortilla. Transfer tortilla to a platter or tray and repeat with remaining tortillas, adding more oil if needed.

Here’s the technique Moña taught me for how to flip the tortillas in the hot oil.

To assemble the enchiladas, spoon about 1 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish. Pat a tortilla with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil, then dip the tortilla into the pot of sauce, letting any excess drip back into the pot. Place tortilla on a prep tray, add a small handful of filling, and roll up the tortilla, placing it seam-side down in the casserole dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. You could also add shredded cooked chicken in this step, if you like.

When the dish is packed with enchiladas cover them with a layer of sauce, using a spoon to spread the sauce into every nook and cranny. Top with remaining Manchego or Monterey jack. Cover with foil and bake for 15-25 minutes, until cheese on top is fully melted.

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