I’m from New Mexico, but I’m not one of those New Mexicans who like green chile in everything. I don’t want it in my eggs, and not really on my pizza, and I’m just coming around to the idea of it in burgers. I do love green chile in traditional New Mexican food though, and chicken enchiladas are my favorite dish.
Not that my recipe is similar to what you’d get in a New Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque. There, chicken enchiladas have nothing but shredded chicken in them, with green chile sauce on top and melted cheddar garnishing. I prefer all of those flavors mixed together right inside the tortilla.
This recipe began with a recipe for Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas in Pillsbury’s Complete Cookbook. I took that base and combined it with some techniques from my favorite chicken pot pie recipe (coming soon), which is all about maximizing the flavor of the each ingredient, especially the chicken.
After seasoning the bone-in, skin-on chicken breast, I sear it on the stove and then roast it in the oven. When it’s done roasting, I deglaze the pan with some chicken broth to get any remnant tasty chicken-ness. Then I shred the chicken.
The filling is an embellished béchamel. I sauté onions and garlic in the butter before adding the flour, then add milk (and the broth used to deglaze the pan with the chicken), green chile and sour cream. Some of this mixture is set aside to become the sauce, and the chicken and some cheese is added to the remaining filling. The sauce is loosened with some additional milk and sour cream.
The first time I cooked with corn tortillas was a disaster, because I didn’t know that they need to be heated before they’ll roll without cracking. Now I wet the tortillas a bit, then heat them in the oven for a few minutes before attempting to fill and roll them. Once they’re all in the pan, I pour the sauce over them, sprinkle some more cheese on top, and bake until everything is heated through.
These are the best enchiladas I’ve ever had, putting traditional New Mexican recipes to shame.
Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
Note: To wet the tortillas before heating and rolling them, I usually hold them under running water for a second. Alternatively, you could brush water on them using a pastry brush.
1 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast (12-16 ounces)
salt and pepper
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons butter
½ large onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk plus ¼ cup
4 ounces chopped green chiles, undrained
½ cup sour cream plus 2 tablespoons
1 cup (4 ounces) cheddar, shredded, plus ¾ cup (3 ounces)
1. For chicken: Adjust oven racks to the lower-middle and upper-middle positions; heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 9-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until oil just begins to smoke; swirl skillet to coat evenly with oil. Brown chicken breast skin side down until deep golden, 3 to 4 minutes; turn chicken breast and brown until golden on second side, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Place in oven on lower-middle rack. Roast until thickest part of breast registers about 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 18 to 25 minutes. Using potholder or oven mitt, remove skillet from oven. Transfer chicken to platter and set aside until cool enough to handle. Pour water into hot skillet and scrape with a heat-proof spatula or wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Pour liquid into small bowl. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
2. For filling: Melt butter until foaming in medium saucepan over medium heat; add onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1½ minutes. Do not brown. Gradually whisk in milk and reserved water from deglazing. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. Stir in green chiles, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Remove from heat, and stir in ½ cup sour cream.
3. For sauce: Set aside ¼ cup of filling mixture. Add an additional ¼ cup milk and 2 tablespoons sour cream and stir until blended.
4. Remove and discard chicken skin. Using fingers or fork, pull chicken off bones into 2-inch shreds and 1-inch chunks. Stir shredded chicken and 1 cup shredded cheddar into filling mixture. Spread ¼ of sauce in bottom of 9×13-inch pan.
5. Lightly wet both sides of four tortillas; place on baking sheet in oven for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Spread approximately ¼ cup of filling down center of each tortilla. Fold in sides and place enchilada, seam side down, in prepared pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas until all the filling has been used, wetting and warming tortillas as necessary.
6. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining ¾ cup cheese. Bake on upper-middle rack until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted, 20-25 minutes. Let rest 5-10 minutes and serve.