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15 May 2010

This ain't a Lasagna

I am just back from my trip to Sicily visiting my family; trying to get used again to Germany with its gloomy and cold weather, I got in a terrible lousy mood. Totally lacking energy, sprint, inspiration. Thankfully it was that time of the month when the Daring Cooks challenge comes to its deadline, so the dinner was fixed. And what a yummy dinner!

Barbara of Barbara Bakes has chosen for us Mexican Enchiladas. First time I try my hand at Mexican food, though I always wanted to start fiddling with this cuisine. The bold flavors, spiciness and freshness always attracted me, probably reminded me of Southern Italian cuisine.
Tonight then I was more than happy to jump on the Daring train and start fixing my dinner.
The recipe we have been asked to follow was taken from finecooking and here it is.

Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchiladas

1½ pounds Fresh Anaheim chiles (about eight 6 to 8 inch chiles) 24 ounces 678 grams - roast, peel, remove seeds, chop coarsely. Other green chiles (NOT bell peppers) could probably be substituted but be conscious of heat and size!)
7-8 ounces Tomatillos
(about 4-5 medium)212 grams - peel, remove stems
4 cups Chicken broth
(32 ounces/920 grams)
1 clove Garlic
, minced
2 teaspoons yellow onion
, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ tsp Kosher salt
(add more to taste)
¼ tsp Black Pepper
(add more to taste)
2 tablespoons Cornstarch
(dissolve in 2 tablespoons water, for thickening)
Hot sauce
, your favorite, optional
2 Boneless chicken breasts
(you can also use bone-in chicken breasts or thighs)
3 tablespoons Olive oi
l or other neutral vegetable oil (use more as needed)
Kosher salt and pepper
12 Small Corn tortillas
(5-6 inch/13-15 cm). (you can also use wheat tortillas or other wraps)
6 ounces grated Monterey Jack
, 170 grams (other cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, Mexican cheeses) can be used. Just be sure they melt well and complement the filling)
Cilantro for garnish
, chopped and sprinkled optional
Roasting Fresh Chiles
 1. Coat each chile with a little vegetable oil. If you are doing only a couple chiles, using the gas stove works. For larger batches (as in this recipe), grilling or broiling is faster.
2. Lay the oiled chiles on the grill or baking sheet (line pan with foil for simpler clean-up). Place the grill or broil close to the element, turning the chiles so they char evenly. They should be black and blistered.
3. As they are completely charred (they will probably not all be done at once), remove them to a bowl and cover with plastic, or close up in a paper bag. Let them rest until they are cool.
4. Pull on the stem and the seed core MAY pop out (it rarely does for me). Open the chile and remove the seeds. Turn the chile skin side up and with a paring knife, scrape away the skin. Sometimes it just pulls right off, sometimes you really have to scrape it.

Green Chile Sauce

1. Put a medium saucepan of water on to boil and remove the papery outer skin from the tomatillos. Boil the tomatillos until soft, 5 to 10 minutes. You can also grill the tomatillos until soft.
2. Drain and puree in a blender or food processor.
3. Return the tomatillos to the saucepan along with the chicken broth, chopped green chiles, minced onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add the cornstarch/water mixture and stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 4-5 cups, another 10-15 minutes.
6. Adjust seasonings and add hot sauce if you want a little more heat.

Stacked Green Chile and Grilled Chicken Enchiladas
1. Heat a gas grill to medium high or build a medium-hot charcoal Coat the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, 4-5 minutes a side for boneless chicken breasts.
3. Cool and then slice into thin strips or shred.
4. In a small skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Dip the edge of a tortilla into the oil to check – it should sizzle immediately.
5. Using tongs, put a tortilla into the pan and cook until soft and lightly brown on each side, about 15-20 seconds per side (at the most).
6. Drain on paper towels.
7. Add oil as needed and continue until all 12 tortillas are done.
8. In a baking dish large enough to hold four separate stacks of tortillas, ladle a thin layer of sauce.
9. Lay four tortillas in the dish and ladle another ½ cup (4 ounces/112 grams) of sauce over the tortillas.
10. Divide half the chicken among the first layer of tortillas, top with another ½ cup of sauce and 1/3 of the grated cheese.
11. Stack another four tortillas, top with the rest of the chicken, more sauce and another third of the cheese.
12. Finish with the third tortilla, topped with the remaining sauce and cheese.
13. Bake until the sauce has thickened and the cheese melted, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
14. To serve, transfer each stack to a plate. Spoon any leftover sauce over the stacks and sprinkle with cilantro, if you wish. The stacks may also be cooked in individual gratin dishes.

Unfortunately we do not have a wide variety of chilies here in Bonn, so I used what I got.
Since these usually are pretty mild chilies, I decided not to peel and seed them before blending them with the roasted tomatoes (I took away their stems naturally). Worthless to say that tomatillos are as rare as white fruit-flies around here, so I looked for green tomatoes but I found only orangey vine tomatoes. Well, thankfully Barbara suggested us that a bit of tamarind paste added to green tomatoes may supplement to sharpness found in tomatillos.
To avoid diluting the flavors, I didn't use cornstarch to thicken my sauce but just reduced it nicely and strained all the grainy bits out of it.
While I was getting my sauce ready I realized I didn't have chicken stock but Marmite was on my pantry! Stocks brings mainly an umami component to the dish and I had already great success in using Marmite to strengthen tomato sauces and stews, so I used a knife tip of it in the sauce at the place of the stock.
The ending sauce was very nice, spicy, sharp with a pleasant fruitiness that cuts right through the cheesy richness of the final dish.
I broiled my own chicken thighs and didn't want to loose their crispy skin so I shredded it with the meat to add in the enchilada.
The final dish was very nice; rich, filling with a nice spiciness just enough to make you want to eat more and more. Truly speaking, the sauce I made wasn't enough for my main enchilada after I had put together the little "hero" one to  photograph; this will make me want to do much more sauce to store next time.


  1. me like the chillies ;-))) glad you cud make this for dinner and in time for DC!! :)) potent stuff, ain't it?!

  2. YummERS! Alessio truly back in form, huh? Terrible, lousy mood being back in Bonn? Nooo way, Jose! This dish is right up my alley, next time just open the window and call me... Glad you are with us again, you have been dearly missed! Rita

  3. Alessio, when I lived in Munich for four years, I was able to find Mexican food at the Asian grocery store (I have no idea why). But they had peppers and tomatillos and refried beans, and a few other "Mexican groceries". So, you might try looking in one of the Asian shops. Although, I don't know much about Bonn. They might not have too many Asians there, either. HAH!

    The recipe looks fabulous and I found myself licking my lips... Mmmmm!

    Good job, considering the tough time with ingredients.