There’s nothing like enjoying a dish that instantly transports you back in time to your childhood at the mere taste with an intense flood of memories attached to it.
That’s how I feel about my mom’s green chicken enchiladas.
My mom – a woman who stands at 4’11” and weighs about 100 pounds, whose hair probably weighs more than the head from which it grows – is what you would describe as petite. Always friendly with a warm smile and a story or three to tell, she’s always been the gentle caregiver, a talent and set of skills she’s perfected all of her life.
Parenthetically, my mom is also an incredible business woman, and for 15 years she ran a full-fledged daycare from our home. So it’s no surprise that people see her as the ultimate caregiver and nurturer, a natural mom to many more than just me and my sister.
She inherited that caring nurturing nature from her mom, my Abuelita. An even more petite woman of few words who became a US citizen after over 40 years in the country but claimed not to know or speak a lick of English (we all knew that was definitely not true but she used it to her advantage always!), quick-witted and the epitome of love, for anyone who knew my Abuelita, it is obvious to see how my own mom became the woman she is. Like most grandmas, Abuelita was always feeding her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, CONSTANTLY… but unlike most grandmas that I know, she was feeding them with scratchmade fresh handrolled flour tortillas, soups, rice and beans, and any and every other mouthwatering delicious and authentic Mexican dish known – and even a whole bunch most had never heard of. Nothing brought more joy to my Abuelita than having her family close by, loving and feeding them everyday, which is exactly how she lived her life until the end. That’s the mom my own mom had for so many years, and the woman we all now see in my mom.
Aside from perhaps being a bit long-winded with some of her stories (a trait I managed to inherit in the gene-pool), just like my Abuelita, my mother is well known for her cooking. One of her specialties is her green chicken enchiladas, which people request of her often. They’re simple yet hearty and versatile, and HIGHLY ADDICTIVE. Seriously – don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’ve added her recipe here with a few small tweaks.
The best thing about this recipe is pre-cooked chicken meat is ideal, such as a rotisserrie chicken pre-cooked at your local grocer, or bake/boil yourself a whole chicken the night before. Once the meat is cool, just shred it up with a couple forks, season it well with salt, pepper, paprika, cumin and garlic powder. Taste it to make sure it’s good and ready with flavor, and voila – there’s your enchilada filling. EASY-PEASY.
One last note is that this recipe does involve a little bit of mess. Corn tortillas aren’t as pliable as a flour tortilla, so you need to soften the corn tortillas in oil before filling, rolling and cooking them. So definitely make sure you have a cooling rack ready to drain any excess oil from them before you fill and roll them.
Without further ado, here are your enchilada dreams come true!
Enchiladas Verdes With Chicken
Enchiladas aren't known to be spicy, but if you'd like a little bite in your bite, you can add jalapenos or other spicy peppers to the filling. And you can alternate the cheese topping, but be sure to pick one with lots of meltiness. Yes, meltiness is the technical term.
- 1 lb cooked chicken meat (boneless, skinless and shredded)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup avocado oil (or other non-flavored high smoke point oil such as corn, veg or canola) approximate, use little by little
- 12 corn tortillas regular size, not small 'street taco' size
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup (I prefer Campbell's Low Sodium)
- 1 4 oz can mild roasted green chiles you can find this in your grocer's Mexican foods section
- 1 small onion
- 8 oz monterey jack cheese, shredded (or mozzarella, pepper jack or other white medium-soft cheese)
- 1 green onions
- 1 4 oz can sliced black olives
- 1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
- sour cream or Mexican crema, to taste
Pre-heat oven to 375℉.
Place shredded chicken meat in a large bowl. Add cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper to chicken and stir to season thoroughly. Set aside.
Blend together the green chiles and mushroom soup in a blender until well combined. Set aside.
Set up a cooling rack with a cookie sheet underneath and set next to your stove. In a large non-stick pan or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of avocado oil over medium heat until the oil is just simmering. Gently place one tortilla in the oil for about 10-20 seconds, flip to the other side for another 10-20 seconds, and remove from the oil. Place on the cooling rack to drain excess oil. Quickly repeat with each tortilla.
Spoon 1/4 cup of the chile sauce into a small baking or casserole dish, and spread out an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Fill your lightly fried/drained tortillas with shredded chicken about 1/4-1/3 of the tortilla and 1 spoonful of green chile sauce, and roll the tortilla up. Place it in the baking dish seam-side down. Repeat the step with remaining tortillas, and place them flushed against each other to keep from opening.
Smother all of the enchiladas evenly with the remaining green chile sauce. Top them with shredded cheese and black olives.
Place baking dish into oven, and bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven, finish with green onions, serve and enjoy!