If you are anything like me...when you see the word "tomatillo" you are wondering what in the world is that!! Well let me be 100% honest with you...until my husband decided he wanted to plant these in his garden, I had no idea what they were. Last year Michael planted two tomatillo plants and we were drowning in these things that I had no idea what to do with!
This year, he decided to scale back and only plant one, much to my delight. But that being said, we still harvested closed to 12 pounds of tomatillos from ONE PLANT! So what is a tomatillo you ask? Well it looks like a green tomato, but is actually a closer relative to a gooseberry than it is to a tomato! It actually has a paper husk around the fruit itself and doesn't have the same insides as a tomato. They are big in Mexican cuisine, and I've even used them to make salsas.
All that being said, the tomatillo is something that I'd seen in the store but I had no idea what it was, or what I could use it for. That is until my husband decided to plant them and force me to cook with them! :) Last year I canned salsa as well as making an Anne Burrell dish with them. This year I decided to can salsa and venture out and find some new recipes. While we were vacationing in Vancouver last month we stopped at a store and I bought a cook book that was on sale. The Williams - Sonoma "One Pot of the Day - 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year" cook book was on sale and I couldn't help but buy it. And let me tell you, it honestly is quite the find! **You can find this book in my Amazon store, you won't regret buying it...I promise!**
I've made several recipes out of this book, and two of them featured the tomatillos in a salsa/sauce form. I made Michael a roasted halibut with a tomatillo salsa as well as the enchiladas that I'm going to talk about today. However, we realized that we liked the tomatillo salsa that went with the fish on the enchiladas! So that my friends is what we will be walking through today. This is the beauty of cooking, you find a recipe and then you change it to suit your tastes and likes! :) Now I call this a salsa, but it's more of a sauce...but hey...it's GREAT! You all ready for some enchiladas with a tomatillo salsa!?!
Tomatillo Salsa Ingredients:
- 2 lbs - tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 4 - Serrano chiles, more or less depending on your spice tolerance. (seed them if necessary)
- 1 cup - chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 cup - chopped yellow onion
- 8 - cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons - fresh squeezed lime juice
- 4 tablespoons - apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons - sugar (more if needed...taste and make sure)
- Kosher salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 lbs - bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
- Vegetable Oil, or Canola Oil.
- Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- Chicken Stock or Water to thin the salsa if necessary
- 10 to 12 - corn tortillas
- Canola Oil for frying
- Shredded cheese - Monterey Jack or Mexican Cheese Blend
- Cotija Cheese (If you can't find Cotija Cheese, Feta can be used)
The first thing you'll want to do is preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Season the bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves with Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper, and rub with either Canola Oil or Vegetable Oil.
Roast them in the oven at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads at least 170 degrees in the thickest part of the meat.
While the chicken is doing it's thing in the oven...let's get to work on the tomatillo salsa!
You'll want to peel the husks off the tomatillos and give them a good rinse. (The outside of the fruit has a sticky residue on it.)
Once they are all rinsed, put them on a sheet tray along with the Serrano chiles.
Put them under the broiler for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until the skins of the chiles and tomatillos get black and blistered.
**Note** If you only have 1 oven, I would suggest making the salsa first and then roasting the chicken after.
While they are under the broiler, chop up 1 cup of onions. A rough chop is fine because these are going into the blender.
Using your knife, "shave" off the cilantro leaves.
Rough chop about 1 cup of cilantro.
By this time the tomatillos and chiles should be blistered (not all will get black and blistered, but you don't want them to burst...keep your eye on them) Take them out of the oven and let them cool a bit.
Peel 8 cloves of garlic.
After the chiles and tomatillos have cooled a bit, combine all the ingredients in the blender. (Tomatillos, chiles, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, sugar, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar and onions) I like to layer the ingredients.
Whenever blending hot or warm things...always put a towel over the top of the lid and apply pressure. Please be careful...warm or hot things in a blender can blow the lid off if you don't hold it down.
Puree the ingredients. After they are pureed, taste the salsa, and adjust the seasoning if needed. It will be slightly acidic, but you will cook it in some hot oil which will take the edge off it. If the salsa seems too thick, add a bit of water or chicken stock to loosen it. Not too much, but you don't want it to be too thick.
Around this time, the chicken should be ready to come out of the oven.
**Turn the oven down to 350 degrees**
A meat thermometer should read at least 170 degrees in the thickest part of the meat. Let the meat cool a bit.
Once cooled, remove the skin and shred the chicken breasts.
In a large pan, coat the bottom with 3 to 4 tablespoons of canola oil. Heat it over medium heat. Once hot, pour in the salsa...it will splatter, just stir it and it will calm down, I promise. :) Cook the salsa for about 5 to 10 minutes until it thickens a bit.
Once the salsa has cooked down a bit, add the shredded chicken to a small pan and coat with some of the salsa.
Now it's time to fry some tortillas. I can remember watching my grandmother do this when I was a child. Now after years of frying them she didn't have to use a fork to turn the tortillas because her fingers were used to the heat...I on the other hand...need a utensil. Now I say "fry" the tortillas, but in all honesty what you are doing is heating them to make them pliable. You do NOT want to fry them to the point where they are crispy.
Coat the bottom of a SMALL frying pan with about 1/4 inch of Canola or Vegetable Oil. Heat over high heat, and turn down to medium high once hot. Put the first tortilla in, leave it for 5 to 6 seconds and it will start to bubble. Move it around and use a fork to press out the air bubbles. (Press out...not pop. Don't poke holes in the tortilla :). )
After the 5 to 6 seconds, use a fork to pull the tortilla to the side, and flip it over. It will only need to be on this side for a few seconds. Use the fork to pull the tortilla to the side and out of the pan. Place on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat this process until you have 10 to 12 tortillas lightly fried. You will need to add more oil a few times, let it heat back up and continue to fry the tortillas.
Now it's time to prepare the E.A.S. (Enchilada Assembly Station). From left to right...Tortillas, bowl with a little bit of salsa in it (wide bowl or dish), bowl with cheese in it, the chicken that has been coated in salsa, empty plate for rolling, 9" x 13" baking dish that has been rubbed with canola oil and a few ladles of salsa spread over the bottom.
Now let's get to work! One tortilla at a time. Run the tortilla through the salsa to cover both sides. Then place it on the empty plate.
Add a small layer of cheese down the center, and a little bit of chicken over that.
Now it's time to roll. Don't make them too fat, otherwise you will struggle with rolling...I'm speaking from experience! HA! :)
Once you have them filled/rolled, place them seam side down in the pan.
Repeat this process until all the enchiladas are made, or you run out of room in the pan. And don't worry, if you have a few extra tortillas that have been heated...you can make yourself a small taco while they are in the oven. Consider it the "chef's treat" for all this hard work!
Cover the enchiladas with the remaining salsa and then add some more cheese to the top.
Place them in the 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the salsa and cheese are bubbly and warm.
I like to serve these with some Mexican rice like my grandma used to make and then top them with the Cotija or Feta Cheese.
Okay...I have to tell you that my mouth is watering right now while I'm finishing this post! I wish that we had some more tomatillos because I'd make this for dinner tomorrow! Sadly, I used the last of them to make this dish a few weeks ago!
Hopefully you are able to find these in the store, if not, this is a GREAT recipe to put away for next season!
I love being able to share dishes that reflect the Mexican side of my family. I have so many fond memories from my grandmother's house where I wasn't allowed to leave there unless she had fed me! My cooking doesn't even come close to what my grandmother produced on a daily basis, but I'm so happy to try my hardest in preparing meals like she did.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe, it was a long time coming! So get out there and find some tomatillos!
Until next time...Keep Cooking!