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Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas with Spinach and Mushrooms

Updated May 20, 2016
This image courtesy of Christopher Hirsheimer

Enchiladas have a casual reputation – fun family food, a good way to use leftovers, not a big deal. But by the time you’ve made the filling and sauce, put together the tortilla-wrapped rolls and sprinkled on the garnishes, the clock’s been ticking for more than a few minutes. Yet it seems we’re all inexplicably drawn to the texture of a soft, sauce-soaked tortilla – I particularly like it if the sauce is made from tomatillos jazzed with green chile and cilantro – around a toothsome filing with something cheesy or fresh on top. So, I’ve simplified the steps to this pleasure, using a light hand where heavy has often been the norm. Fried tortillas have been replaced with baked ones, meat has been swapped for (or augmented with) spinach and mushrooms and the typically Mexican-American melted cheese blanket has become the more typically Mexican light sprinkly of flavorful fresh cheese. Your only challenge will be temperature: In Mexico, most enchiladas are put together from warm ingredients and served right away – no baking. (But, then again, in Mexico, folks don’t like their food as hot as we do in the States.) My suggestions: When the tortillas come out of the oven, turn the oven off and slide your (ovenproof) dinner plates in to warm. And make sure the sauce, filling and tortillas stay as warm as possible.

Serves4

CostInexpensive

Moderate

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe CourseMain Course

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free

EquipmentBlender

MealDinner, Lunch

Taste and TextureCheesy, Creamy, Garlicky, Herby, Savory, Spiced, Tangy, Tart

Type of DishCasserole

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Fresh hot green chiles to taste (I like 2 serranos or 1 jalapeno), stemmed and quartered
  • 1 ½ pounds (10 to 12 medium) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into quarters
  • ¾ cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, olive oil or bacon drippings (divided use), plus some for the tortillas
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 8 ounces mushrooms (button, oyster or shiitake are good), stemmed and sliced
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 10 ounces (about 10 cups) spinach, stems removed
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) shredded cooked chicken (about one-quarter of a large rotisserie chicken) or cubed ham (optional)
  • Salt
  • 12 corn tortillas, preferably store-bought
  • 3 tablespoons Mexican cream, sour cream, heavy cream or crème fraiche
  • ½ teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese

Instructions

A Few Riffs on the Enchiladas Verdes

You can simplify this recipe in two ways. First, you can skip the vegetable filling and use only shredded cooked chicken (you’ll need about 2 cups, or 8 ounces; about half of a large rotisserie chicken. And second, you can use store-bought tomatillo salsa (you’ll need about 4 cups): Blend it until smooth, then transfer to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add the cream and check the seasonings (it will likely be quire spicy and tangy, so you may want to add extra cream and/or sugar). At our restaurant, we make these vegetarian enchiladas with roasted root vegetables in the fall, put each portion in an individual heatproof dish, top with a sprinkling of Chihuahua-style melting cheese and run them under a broiler. Coarse shreds of smoked ham hock (or several rashers of crisp bacon are really delicious in the (then non-vegetarian) filling.

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