Cooking with Dining: Enchilladas


In anticipation of Cino De Mayo, I thought we could focus on the wonderful flavors of Mexico. Enchiladas can be simple or complex. The complexity comes with many different variations of fillings and toppings.

Feel free to stuff these tortillas with many different things. This is where your favorites can to take you to interesting places.

I always recommend shopping for the most authentic ingredients when cooking international flavors and styles. For this recipe, make sure you find the right cheese, and the most authentic tortillas available. This recipe uses a green sauce which I find more interesting. However a classic red enchilada sauce is fine to substitute.

It is a two step process, but once you dive into it, you will find that experimenting with Mexican flavors can be very interesting, and a lot of fun.   It’s also a great group cooking activity. Feel free to prepare many different fillings so your friends can “stuff their own” and go from there.

Shopping list

  • 2 fresh poblano chiles
  • 1 cup (lightly packed) roughly chopped spinach leaves
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, or you can use vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Salt
  • 3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (I usually use a rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled chicken)
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • A little vegetable oil for brushing or spraying
  • About 1 cup Mexican melting cheese (Chihuahua, quesadilla, asadero or the like) or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar
  • A little chopped cilantro, for garnish


Roast the poblanos directly on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, turning regularly, until the skins have blistered and blackened on all sides, about 5 minutes for an open flame or 10 minutes under the broiler.

Place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and, when slightly cooled, rub off the blackened skin, tear open and pull out the seed pod and stem.

Quickly rinse to remove any stray seeds or bits of skin. Roughly chop and put in a blender jar. Add the spinach.

In a medium (3-quart) saucepan, combine the milk and broth, set over medium-low heat to warm.

In a large (4-quart) saucepan, melt the butter (or heat the oil) over medium. Add the garlic and cook for a minute to release its aroma, then add the flour and stir the mixture for a minute. Raise the heat to medium-high. Pour in the warm broth mixture and whisk constantly until the sauce boils.

Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Pour half the hot sauce into the blender with the chiles and spinach.

Cover loosely (I remove the center part of the lid, secure the lid, then drape a cloth over the whole thing) and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sauce.

Taste and season with salt, usually about 2 teaspoons. Your sauce is now ready.

Finish the enchiladas

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Smear about 1/4 cup of the sauce over the bottom of each of four to six 9-inch individual ovenproof baking/serving dishes or smear about 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking dish. Stir 1 cup of the sauce into the chicken.

Lay half of the tortillas out on a baking sheet and lightly brush or spray both sides of the tortillas with oil; top each tortilla with another one and brush or spray those with oil.

Bake just to warm through and soften, about 3 minutes. Stack the tortillas and cover with a towel to keep warm.

Working quickly so that the tortillas stay hot and pliable, roll a portion of the chicken up in each tortilla, then line them all up in the baking dish(es).

Douse evenly with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until the enchiladas are hot through (the cheese will have begun to brown), about 20 minutes.

Garnish with the cilantro and serve without hesitation, you have created a wonderful meal!




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