Green Chicken Enchiladas (Enchiladas Verdes con Pollo)

October 20, 2021
4 Ratings
Photo by Bette Blau, prop styling by Brooke Deonarine, food styling by Sophia Loche
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

When I pose the question in my house, “What would everyone like me to make for dinner this week?” I’m more often than not answered with “Your enchiladas, please!”—that translates to green chicken enchiladas. These enchiladas are something that really are heavy on my dinner rotation. They are a crowd-pleaser and easy on the cook. You serve them right in the dish that they are baked in and everyone can top them how they like them. Sour cream, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, pickled onions, sliced radishes, and tortilla chips are some of the fan favorites.

All the ingredients are wholesome and give this dish that “home cooked from scratch” flavor without having to slave over it all day. When the stars align and I’m organized, I love to make the sauce and chicken the day before. The sauce tastes even better, and when dinnertime rolls around, most of the work is already done. You can totally make your own refried beans here, but a can of them is great and gives the enchilada filling its creaminess. Pork lard is one of those ingredients that either sends people running or signals to the reader that this is going to be delicious. I buy mine at the farmers' market and it keeps in my fridge for a long time. It really adds that authentic over-the-top deliciousness.

A tip on jalapeños: All jalapeños have varying heat levels. Sometimes you get a fiery one and then the next has no heat at all. This is how I determine the spice level while I’m cooking: I cut off the stem and touch the exposed ribs and seeds (that’s where the heat lives) to the tip of my tongue. You’ll know right away what you’re working with and no worries about germs because the heat of cooking will take care of that. Then you can decide, based on your preferences, how many seeds and ribs you want to leave in or remove. —Olivia Mack McCool

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil or rendered pork lard, divided, plus more as needed
  • 1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 poblano chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, coarsely chopped, seeded if you want less heat
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked, rinsed well, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving
  • 1 (15-ounce) can refried beans
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 10 ounces shredded mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or queso quesadilla
  • Sour cream, for serving
  1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, until softened and just starting to brown on the edges. Add the poblano chiles, jalapeños, garlic, and cumin and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes, until the chiles start to soften.
  2. Add the tomatillos, salt, and 2 cups of water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, until the tomatillos have started to lose their shape.
  3. Add the chicken, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken easily shreds with a fork. Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Shred or cut the chicken into small pieces and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, scrape the beans from the can into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring often, until heated through. Alternatively, you could heat them in the microwave in a heatproof bowl.
  5. Add 2 cups of the cilantro to the pot with the tomatillo sauce. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until very smooth. Alternatively, you can blend the sauce in batches in a blender.
  6. Assemble a workstation with the enchilada sauce, shredded chicken, shredded cheese, refried beans, and a baking dish large enough to hold the 12 enchiladas (a 13-by-9-inch pan works). Pour two-thirds of the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.
  7. Heat the oven to 350°F. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil. Once hot, cook a tortilla for 10 seconds on each side, until charred in spots and warmed through. Transfer the fried tortilla to a clean cutting board. Repeat with 2 more tortillas, then take a break to assemble. If at any time the pan gets too dry, simply add a little more oil.
  8. Schmear a heaping tablespoon of beans on each tortilla, top with some chicken and a small sprinkling of cheese, then roll up and place seam side down in the baking dish. Continue frying and assembling the tortillas, 3 at a time, until you’ve completed all 12. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese.
  9. Bake the enchiladas for 25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are hot all the way through. Serve with the sour cream and chopped cilantro.

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