I love Mexican food. I grew up with great Mexican food in Southern California. I love to eat it and I love to make it too. One day, quite a few years ago, I was talking to someone and they asked me what my favorite local Mexican restaurant was. My response was “my kitchen”. They quickly asked where that was, thinking it was an actual restaurant, and we all laughed when I said, “No, I mean my actual kitchen at home”. I thought they were going to invite themselves over for dinner that night.
Many moons ago, back in my restaurant and catering days, I prided myself and my staff for doing our best to make different ethnic foods as authentic as we could. I still do that today. I love all kinds of ethnic foods, and when I make them myself, which I do often, I want to recreate them either as I originally enjoyed them, or make them even better if I can. My latest authentic Mexican recreation was some loaded chicken enchiladas with a creamy tomatillo sauce. Originally, they were just going to be simple enchiladas that were going to use up my leftovers, but then they turned into oh so much more. I did still get to use up a lot of my leftovers though. That always makes me happy. 🙂
It really depends on my mood when I make my enchiladas. Sometimes I roll my enchiladas and sometimes I layer them. This time I decided to layer them. I served them with a spinach side salad topped with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette.
I thought I had everything I needed for my enchiladas, and for the most part, I did. But when it came time for the sauce, I realized, I did not have tomatillo sauce. No worries. I improvised, something I have become quite a pro at. I did have a small bottle of a tomatillo topping, but it was not nearly enough for what I needed, so I “doctored it up” and expanded on it.
Larry had made some tequila lime chicken the other day (though he NEVER uses enough flavorings when he cooks) and that was the basis for my enchiladas. I also has some Cubano black beans with corn and jalapenos that I added to the mix as well, along with some additional peppers, garlic, cilantro and red and green onions.
Makeshift Creamy Tomatillo Sauce
1 bottle of tomatillo marinade
1-2 TBPS spinach pesto or regular pesto
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Combine everything together well.
Preheat the oven to 350* F or 175* C.
Spray cooking spray into a 9×13 baking dish.
Add a layer of the creamy tomatillo sauce (or regular tomatilla suace) on the bottom of the pan, followed by a layer of tortillas. I used the large flour tortillas, but you can also use corn if your prefer. Any size will do as long as you cover the whole bottom of the pan. Then start the layering process – cheese, chicken, bean mixture, tortillas, sauce and repeat until the pan is full.
When the pan is full, add another layer of sauce or salsa on top as well as another layer of cheese. I used Mozzarella because that is what I had, but you can use whatever cheese you like. I would recommend a white cheese though because I think it goes better with the chicken and tomatillo sauce.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches about 165* F. Then uncover and continue to cook until the cheese starts to form a light crust, or about 10-15 minutes. Before serving, top it with some tomatoes, green onions, and/or olives, or any combination thereof as you like.
This is a very rich dish, so I served it with a light spinach salad on the side. I topped it with a lime-cilantro vinaigrette. Normally I would serve this with a margarita on the side, but since it was cold, and margaritas seem more of a summer or warm weather drink for me, I chose a light, crispy, citrusy chardonnay instead.
Who says you can’t dress up leftovers? Play with your food. Make it fun. I always do. 🙂
Stay warm, stay safe and stay healthy. ‘Til next time.