In Mexico, the go-to enchilada flavour is spicy stewed chicken and salsa verde, and this dish captures that authentic flavour, bringing together fresh ingredients and traditional cooking styles for a true Tex-Mex creation. (Courtesy of Sylvia Casares, Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen.)
Tortillas, Pollo Guisado and Assembly
For Salsa Verde, in a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the tomatillos, onion, jalapeño, tomato, and 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until all the ingredients are soft. Remove from heat & set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
In a blender jar or work bowl of a food processor, mix garlic, cilantro, and salt until smooth.
Add the tomatillo mixture. Process on high speed until very smooth, about 1 minute.
Set aside for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors mellow before serving. Reheat gently, if needed, on the stovetop or in a microwave oven on low power until heated through.
For tortillas, Pollo Guisado and Assembly, in a medium bowl, combine the masa, flour (if using), and salt.
Using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix well to blend.
Add 1 1/2 cups water and mix until all the ingredients are well blended.
Knead for about 30 seconds, until the dough forms a firm but very pliable ball.
If the dough is too dry, add 2 to 3 tablespoons additional water. Divide the dough into 16 golf ball–size rounds. Place in a large, clean bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.
Preheat a comal or griddle over medium-high heat. The comal is ready when water sprinkled on the hot surface “dances.” The temperature should be around 400°F.
Before cooking the tortillas, use a balled-up paper towel to apply a light coat of vegetable oil to the surface of the preheated comal.
Using a tortilla press, place one piece of plastic wrap on the bottom plate. Place a dough ball in the center and press down with your hand to flatten to about 2 inches in diameter.
Center a second piece of plastic over the flattened dough and press down with the top side of the press. Press until the tortilla is about 6 inches in diameter.
Lift the tortilla off the press and carefully peel the plastic off one side. Turn the tortilla into your other hand. Peel off the second piece of plastic. Flip the tortilla onto the hot comal. Veteran tortilla makers flip tortillas with their fingers. This requires a great deal of experience and desensitized fingertips. Not recommended that you try this at home!
Cook the tortilla for about 15 seconds; then flip it over using a spatula. This step is very important to set the dough.
After flipping, cook the tortilla for about 1 minute, then flip again. Cook for another 1 minute. Place the cooked tortilla in a tortilla warmer or a bowl covered with a towel.
Repeat the process, oiling the comal as needed, until all the tortillas are pressed and cooked.
Dip each tortilla in the chile sauce. Drain off excess liquid. Stack the spiced tortillas on a plate.
Using a nonstick spatula, slide one flavored tortilla at a time into the hot oil, cook for 2 or 3 seconds, then turn it over. When the tortilla is pliable (after another 1 or 2 seconds), remove from the oil immediately so the tortilla doesn’t crisp. Tortillas should remain pliable for rolling. The total time in the oil should be no more than 5 seconds.
Stack the softened tortillas on a plate and continue dipping in hot oil until all the flavored tortillas are softened. Cover the softened flavored tortillas with plastic or foil to keep soft.
Allow the tortillas to cool for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Covered tightly with plastic wrap to prevent drying out, tortillas may sit for as long as an hour.
In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the whole chicken or chicken pieces, 1 quart water, and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 35 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the saucepan and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Reserve the broth in a saucepan off the heat.
To the broth in the saucepan, add the Holy Trinity, the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, the onion, bay leaves, tomato, and tomato sauce. Stir to combine.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin. Pull meat from the bones and shred the meat by hand or chop into bite-size pieces. Discard the skin and bones.
Over low heat, add the chicken to the broth mixture.
Simmer for 20 minutes, or until soft.
Set aside off the heat for about 15 minutes to cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer seasoned chicken meat to a clean container, draining most of the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray a 9 × 11-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Place 2 tablespoons of the chicken in the center of a tortilla.
Roll and place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat until all the tortillas are filled, arranging them in the baking dish with 1/8 inch in between.
Pour 1/4 cup sauce over each enchilada and sprinkle evenly with the cheese.
Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.
Top each enchilada with about 2 tablespoons sour cream. Serve immediately.