Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa
I’m so excited to share these enchiladas with you. I made these up last week and my family LOVED them. I mean John kept exclaiming to me how good they were. These are truly the perfect spring or summer enchilada, because they’re filled with chicken and fresh vegetables and topped with a light tomatillo salsa. The tomatillo salsa is a light and refreshing change from the normal heavy enchilada sauce that you think of when you hear the word enchiladas. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good enchilada sauce, especially the pumpkin sauce I use on our pumpkin enchiladas, but this is a nice change and flavor for spring. These enchiladias are so light and refreshing that we each ate two! Yes, we were piggies, but we didn’t feel bad at all. Sometimes you just have to savor the moment and savor the food.
I chose to roast up chicken breasts instead of using a rotisserie chicken because we’re not fans of dark meat, but feel free to use a rotisserie chicken. To make these enchiladas an easy weeknight meal, all you have to do is pre-cook and shred the chicken (or just use a rotisserie chicken) and make the salsa ahead of time. Then come dinner time, all you have to do is sauté a few veggies, assemble the enchiladas, and throw them in the oven for 10 minutes. At that point you truly have a 30 minute meal. Easy peasy, right? You could even substitute the tomatillo salsa with a store bought mild green salsa if you wanted, though I really think this salsa is the bomb! I actually roast and shred the chicken the night before or earlier that day and then make the salsa while the chicken is roasting. That way I take care of two components of the meal. Hey, I’m always looking to cut time at dinner as well. Please don’t be intimidated by all the ingredients or instructions below, these are truly a simple enchilada to throw together.
chicken enchiladas with tomatillo salsa:
Recipe adapted from Real Simple Best Recipes: Easy, Delicious MealsReal Simple
Note: You only need 1 red onion here, you will use 1/2 for the enchiladas and 1/2 for the salsa
- 2 bone-in skin on chicken breasts or 1 2-to 2 1/2-pound rotisserie chicken, meat shredded
- splash of olive oil
- 4 tablespoons safflower or canola oil – You can really use any high-heat neutral oil of choice here
- 2 small zucchini, diced
- 1/2 of a normal sized red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup corn kernels (from 1 ear, or frozen and thawed) – I used frozen white corn
- 1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack (6 ounces) cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to top chicken breasts
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to top chicken breasts
- 10 6-inch corn tortillas
- sour cream for topping
- 1 pound tomatillos, papery husks removed, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 of a normal sized red onion, cut into large chunks
- 1 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, cut into large pieces
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
First things first, let’s cook up the chicken if you’re using chicken breasts. If you’re using a rotisserie chicken then you can move on. We’re not fans of dark meat in this house, so I always just roast up some breasts when a recipes calls for shredded or cubed chicken. Note: For time efficiency, the chicken can be roasted and shredded up ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast the breasts for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. I always use my meat thermometer here and take the chicken out when it reaches an internal temperature of 165º.
Want to know a super cool trick for shredding chicken? I learned this step from my good friend Carolyn. While the chicken breasts are still pretty warm, (you really want them warm to hot for this next step to work) remove the skin from chicken and then using a knife, slice the chicken breast off of the bone. Get out your kitchen aid mixer, throw the chicken breasts into the bowl and put your paddle attachment on.
Turn the mixer on to speed 4 and in approximately 20 seconds you will have shredded chicken. Super cool right? I didn’t believe it either till I saw it with my own eyes. See, now you can believe it as well because there’s proof in the below photo. I don’t always do this step, but I wanted to show it to you. I usually just shred the breasts by hand because I don’t always want to clean up another bowl or appliance. I can be lazy that way.
Once your chicken has been shredded, it’s time to start assembling the enchiladas. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees for the enchiladas.
While your chicken is baking, make sure to take out your 1/2 cup frozen corn so it can thaw. If you’re using a rotisserie chicken, then take the frozen corn out at least 1/2 hour before you’re going to make the enchiladas. Of course, if you’re using fresh corn, then you don’t have to worry about thawing the corn. Wash and dice up your zucchini, dice half of your red onion and reserve the other half for the salsa. Measure out the 1- 1/2 cups of Monterey Jack cheese.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the safflower or canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, onion and corn and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the sautéed veggies to a large bowl. Add to the veggies, the shredded chicken, 1 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix to combine.
Now its time to heat up your corn tortillas so they do not break apart while rolling them. You can either use a cast-iron skillet or wipe clean the skillet that you cooked the veggies in. Heat up the remaining 3 tablespoons of safflower or canola oil over medium heat. One at a time, cook the tortillas in the oil, until softened, 10-15 seconds per side, adding in another tablespoon of oil if the pan gets too dry. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. These tortillas will be a bit greasy, so make sure that you blot them well with the paper towels.
Lay the 10 softened tortillas on work surface; mound the chicken mixture on half of each tortilla, dividing evenly. Its best to put the chicken to one side of your tortilla and roll it up from there.
Roll it up as you would a sleeping bag. Roll up each tortilla into a tight log; place seam side down in the baking dish. It’s going to be a tight fit here, just squeeze them in and you can even put some on the side as I show below. You might have a few tortillas that crack, but that’s normal and ok. The enchiladas will still taste great.
Bake the enchiladas uncovered, until heated through, 8-10 minutes.
Now, let’s move onto the tomatillo salsa. You can make the salsa ahead of time or while the chicken breasts are roasting, or while the enchiladas are cooking. Whatever works for you.
These are tomatillos in case you were not sure what they looked like. They don’t look so pretty on the outside, but take away their outer skin and underneath you will find a bright green beauty.
Remove the husk from the tomatillos and wash off the sticky film. They are sticky little suckers until you rinse them.
Let’s prep the ingredients for the salsa. Peel, wash and chop up the tomatillos, chop the reserved red onion into large chunks, wash, de-seed and chop your jalapeño pepper, wash your cilantro and remove the leaves from the stems, and squeeze your tablespoon of lime juice.
Get out your food processor and throw in the tomatillos, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
Pulse until finely chopped. You will want to get in there with a spatula to scrape down the sides once during the process.
Pour the salsa into a large bowl. This salsa tastes great on tortilla chips as well, and it’s not too spicy.
Top the enchiladas with the tomatillo salsa and a dollop of sour cream. This salsa really pairs well with the enchiladas, so don’t be afraid to add a nice amount to your enchiladas.
If you like enchiladas, then try these chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce. They’re the bomb and totally kid approved.