With a few easy shortcuts, you can have these delicious Easy Chicken Enchiladas Verde on your table in less than an hour! No one will know you cheated (just a little)!
Hola! Honestly, you’d think that after eating these Easy Chicken Enchiladas Verde for lunch and dinner, two days in a row, I’d be able to speak a whole lot more Spanish than that, right? But sadly, it’s just not true. Oh, well, maybe after lunch tomorrow. I’m planning to serve them, yet again, to guests…
It is true that we have been sampling this delicious Mexican entree quite frequently over the last few days. I wanted to come up with an enchilada verde recipe that wouldn’t take tons of prep work. I’ve made lots of different versions of these enchiladas with green sauce over the years, most of them wonderful, but all fairly complex. Some involve roasting tomatillos and chili peppers, then pureeing them and sometimes simmering the resulting sauce to reduce it. Some of the recipes even call for roasting or poaching chicken before even starting to make the enchiladas.
All of that is fine if you’ve got lots of time to burn. The majority of days, however, I’m in as much of a hurry to get dinner on the table as I imagine you are. So, for this recipe, I employed a few easy tricks that some people might call cheating. But you know what? If the results are super delicious, I’m okay with a little cheating. And in the case of these wonderful enchiladas, it’s totally worth it. I’m thrilled that they can be on the table in well under an hour and are honestly as good as I’ve had at most Mexican restaurants. (My chief culinary consultant agrees.)
What’s the secret? Well, there are actually a number of them. One is rotisserie chicken. I usually pick up one or two when shopping at Costco or Sam’s club. They’re moist, flavorful and inexpensive. Most larger grocery stores have them as well, in the deli section. If you happen to have leftover chicken breast, it will also work fine for this recipe.
Another “cheater” ingredient is purchased salsa verde. You’ll find salsa verde in the Mexican section of most grocery stores, usually sold in glass jars. I’ve used several brands with good success. To me, most sauces from a jar can taste a little “dull”, so I use an easy trick to perk up the flavor.
I pour the whole jarful into a blender container (I love my KitchenAid Pro-line Blender) with a generous handful of fresh cilantro. A few pulses later, the olive-hued sauce has been transformed into a vibrant green with a delicious, fresh flavor. No one would believe it came from a jar. (BTW, this also works well for a dip for chips – no one will know you didn’t slave over it!)
The rest is just as easy. Shred the rotisserie chicken into a bowl. Add cheese, chopped cilantro and jalapeño, then toss it all together. Fresh lime juice, garlic powder and a drizzle of honey are then added to the chicken for another layer of flavor. The mixture is rolled up in flour tortillas, which are nestled into a pan with the delicious sauce.
More sauce and cheese on the top and it’s ready for a quick stint in a hot oven.
While the enchiladas bake, you’ll have time to make a beautiful garnish; a small batch of pickled red onions. They’ll add a lovely touch to the presentation as well as being crazy good. Sound complicated? Nope, and they only take a few minutes! Just combine diced red onion with a splash of vinegar, water and a dash of salt and sugar. That’s it, by the time the enchiladas are ready to pull out of the oven, the red onions (they actually start out as purple) will have been transformed to a brilliant magenta. Just drain them and they’re ready to go. I also like to add a sprinkle of chopped cilantro for a pretty contrast.
I have a feeling that once you try these Easy Chicken Enchilada Verde, you’ll have requests to make them again and again. They’re tender, cheesy, spicy (without being too hot) and just plain old melt-in-your-mouth delicious! They’re a perfect way to feed a crowd or dinner guests as they can be made in advance and popped in the oven just before serving. They’d make a wonderful dinner for a new mom, a new neighbor or someone who just needs a little TLC.
Add a green salad or a bowl of this wonderful Mexican Chopped Salad and call it dinner. Another idea? My friend Tricia, from Saving Room for Dessert just posted a recipe for Easy Spanish Rice which would also be a wonderful side.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a really fun yet light Mexican-inspired dessert, check out these gorgeous Cinco De Mayo popsicles from The View from Great Island. I’m quite sure no one would miss the fat and/or calories!
Buen provecho! (That’s Bon Appétit in Spanish – hey, maybe the enchiladas are beginning to work!)
What I used to make and serve these enchiladas:
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- For the sauce:
- 1 16- ounce bottle mild salsa verde
- 1 cup fresh cilantro tightly packed
- For the enchiladas:
- 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast*
- 3 cups Monterey jack cheese about 12 ounces
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 medium jalapeño** finely chopped (optional)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste***
- 8 8-inch flour tortillas
- For the diced pickled red onion:
- ½ medium red onion peeled and diced
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar or any other mild vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 425˚F. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray or oil it lightly. Set aside.
- Combine salsa verde and 1 cup cilantro in a blender. Using the pulse option, pulse about 15-20 times until cilantro is well blended, but still a bit chunky. Pour 1 cup of the sauce into prepared pan. Set aside.
- Combine chicken, 1 cup cheese, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro and diced jalapeño (if using) in a medium-size bowl. Toss gently with a fork to combine. Combine lime juice, honey and garlic powder in a small bowl and stir to combine. Drizzle over chicken and toss again.
- Drizzle about 2 teaspoons of olive oil onto a dinner plate. Set one tortilla on the oiled plate. Scoop up about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture and spread evenly across the lower third of the tortilla. Roll up tortillas and place, seam sides down, in pan. Repeat with remaining 7 tortillas, adding a bit more oil to the plate, as needed.
- Pour sauce down center of enchiladas and spread to within one inch of edges. Sprinkle remaining 2 cups of cheese over the sauce. Leave a one inch border that’s not covered with sauce and cheese. (These edges crisp up in the oven and are delicious!)
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with chopped cilantro and pickled red onion, if desired.
- While the enchiladas are baking, prepare pickled red onions: combine diced onion, vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes, then drain well and pat dry with paper toweling.
*I use only the white, breast meat for my enchiladas but feel free to use thighs or legs if you prefer. **Most “mild” purchased salsa verdes have a pretty good kick but the spiciness is toned down with all the other ingredients. If you like things more toward the mild side, skip the jalapeño. **Rotisserie chicken varies in amount of seasoning. Once the chicken is combined with the cheese and lime juice mixture, take a taste and see if it needs any more salt and pepper. I find that with Costco chickens, I don’t need any extra.