Lazy chicken enchiladas verdes

For a self-proclaimed Mexican food addict, I don’t make it at home very often. My Tex-Mex kitchen skills are pretty much relegated to this salsa – which, admittedly, is the bomb.

But on a recent Monday night when I was forced to have dinner at home due to cash flow issues (read: NYC has eaten my bank account because I eat everything in NYC), I decided that if I couldn’t go out for Mexican food I would bring the Mexican food to me.

See, the good thing about Americanized Mexican recipes is that for the most part, the ingredients are cheap, the recipes are straightforward and it’s almost impossible to mess them up. When in doubt, cover the whole thing in cheese and no one will complain.

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Case in point, this recipe for enchiladas verdes from Sam Sifton. Enchiladas verdes have become one of my favorite things to order out. Heartier than tacos and cheese optional with a tangy, satisfying salsa, they always hit the spot.

Thanks to Sam, I’ve now mastered the art of making them at home.

And as if his recipe wasn’t easy enough, I’ve made it easier by using shredded rotisserie chicken instead of starting from scratch. The sauce is almost the same as my favorite salsa, minus the avocado which I sliced and scattered on top, so I felt confident replacing the fresh tomatillos with prepared tomatillo salsa.

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I recommend serving with store bought Spanish rice and refried beans for a weeknight dinner that actually comes together in 30 minutes or less.

Proof that frugality, ease and deliciousness aren’t mutually exclusive!

(Although, to be fair, I’m hitting the streets next Monday for a pilgrimage to Casa Enrique in Long Island City – with one Michelin star and the title of “Best Mexican Restaurant in NYC” as determined by the Infatuation, it may be the pinnacle of my career as a Mexican food lover.)

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Lazy chicken enchiladas verdes
(Adapted from Sam Sifton, NYTimes)

Note: The original recipe has you brown the tortillas in neutral oil such as canola until soft and lightly browned. I skipped this step to be (marginally) healthier.

1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed from the bone and shredded
1 jar tomatillo salsa or salsa verde (such as Winking Girl – just make sure the ingredients include tomatillos and next to nothing else, although jalapeño or onion are fine additions)
1 small white onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 serrano chiles or more to taste, seeds removed, roughly chopped
4 to 5 tender stems of fresh cilantro, with leaves, roughly chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 cup neutral oil, optional
12 yellow corn tortillas*
1 cup crumbled queso fresco, cotija cheese or shredded Mexican cheese blend, optional

To top, optional:
Chopped onion
Sliced avocado
Cilantro

Preheat oven to 375.

Make the salsa verde: combine tomatillo salsa, onion, garlic, serrano peppers and cilantro in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. If needed, add water to thin it out a little. Season with salt to taste.

If frying the tortillas, do so next. Heat oil in a medium sauté pan until it begins to shimmer. Using tongs or a wide spatula, place a tortilla in the oil – it should start to bubble right away. Heat tortilla for about 10 seconds a side, until soft and lightly browned, then remove and set on a paper towel lined baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Next assemble the enchiladas. Ladle  about 1/2 cup salsa verde in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and spread it out. Place a handful of shredded chicken and a teaspoon or so of salsa verde in the middle of each tortilla and roll it up. Place it seam-down in the pan, nestling one next to the other. Once all tortillas are in the pan, pour the remaining salsa verde over them and sprinkle with cheese if using.

Bake for 15 minutes or until sauce is bubbling (and cheese is melted). Top with toppings, if using, and serve.

*: It may have been the brand I used, but my corn tortilla crumbled apart when I rolled them up. If gluten is no obstacle, I might use sturdier flour tortillas next time.

Chicken Enchiladas With Salsa Verde: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018153-chicken-enchiladas-with-salsa-verde

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