This recipe comes from a PBS special that aired recently called Moveable Feast. It showcased chefs like Rick Bayless, Ming Tsai, Lydia Bastianich, Jose Andres, Christopher Kimball and Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl, all sharing recipes.
I've been a Rick Bayless fan ever since my friends Jennifer and Kevin turned me on to his cookbooks and tasty interior Mexican recipes. And I'm so glad they did. He's now my go to source for real Mexican dishes.
This is one of the recipes he shared on the program. He said it comes from one of his favorite dishes from Cafe Tacuba, a restaurant in Mexico City. It turned out to be as tasty as it looked when he made it. The recipe is easy to make, but does make a bit of a mess in the kitchen, utilizing a lot of different pots and pans.
I liked that it had a warm, gooey, comfort food quality, but also included a healthy dose of veggies with spinach and poblanos in the sauce. I went one step further and added strips of zucchini to the chicken filling to make it a one-dish meal.
3-4 poblano chiles
6 big handfuls of fresh baby spinach
1 stick (4 ounces) butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 1/2 cups milk
12-14 corn tortillas
meat from one rotisserie or roasted chicken, shredded
3-4 small zucchini, shredded or julienned into sticks
1/3 pound Chihuahua (or Monterey Jack) cheese, shredded
cilantro to garnish
Roast the poblanos under a broiler until black and blistered on all sides. Allow to cool, the peel off the skin and remove the seeds and stem. A quick rinse under cold water makes this easier. Chop the chiles and set aside. Reset the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
While the chiles are roasting, put the milk and broth into a pan and bring up to a simmer.
Make a roux. Melt the butter over medium heat, then add the garlic and stir for one minute. Add the flour, stirring continuously. Let the flour cook, about one minute, while stirring. Continue stirring and slowly add in the heated broth mixture. Whisk together completely and then bring up to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt and whisk.
While the sauce is simmering, spray each side of each of the tortillas lightly with cooking spray and place them, 2-up, on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven, pile all the tortillas into one neat stack and cover with a kitchen towel to keep them warm.
Finish the sauce using a blender or immersion blender. Whiz together the chiles, spinach, and half of the sauce. Blend well until completely smooth.
Pour into the pan with the other half of the sauce and whisk together to completely combine.
Place the shredded chicken meat and zucchini in a bowl and ladle one cup of the green sauce over it. Stir together to combine. This is your filling.
You can use either individual gratin dishes or a larger casserole pan to bake these. Whichever you're using, spray your pans with cooking spray first. Ladle some sauce into the bottom of your pan and spread it around evenly with the back of the ladle.
Now, assemble your enchiladas. Take one tortilla, place a large spoonful of filling across the middle of your tortilla in a strip. Roll the tortilla up around it. Place into the pool of sauce in the prepared pan. Continue with remaining tortillas and filling.
When the filled tortillas are all snug in their pan, ladle more sauce evenly over the top to cover. Sprinkle the top with the shredded cheese.
Baking time depends on the size of the pans you're using. I baked individual pans with two enchiladas each, so it was only about 20 minutes. You just want them warmed through and the cheese melted and a little bubbly on top. For one large pan, this could take up to double the time. I'd test the middle ones after 30-40 minutes to make sure they're hot all the way through. (If your cheese browns too fast, cover it with foil.)
This makes a big ole mess of enchiladas, 12-14. How many that serves is up to you. I'd count on 2-3 per person.
To serve, top with chopped cilantro.
Serves approximately 4-6.
Adapted from Rick Bayless.