Tuesday, September 2, 2008

still life with tomatillos

I think I have mentioned before that I believe I live in one of the most beautiful places imaginable. I just want to say that again. I don't mean my house specifically, but rather living in the country in Maryland. It's really a lovely place.

On Monday morning we slept in late. Well, late for us. I got up around 7:00 and the Lenny was up by 8. We had a late, leisurely breakfast. Since I am normally up and out so early, I rarely get to fully appreciate the way the sun comes into my kitchen around 9:00. I get great sun in my living room in the afternoons and great sun in my kitchen in the mornings. Here is a fruit stack that my mother painted years ago, some tomatillos, and poblanos. I thought they just looked lovely in the sunlight. I like that you can see the shadow created by the window panes.

Anyway, the tomatillios and poblanos were purchased to make enchiladas verdes. I have been on a kick lately of wanting to make food that I have never made before. I have made many enchiladas in my life but never the green kind. I like to call them green meanies, but then again, I am a strange person most days.

The enchiladas turned out pretty darn good. I think I will make them as creamy, green enchiladas next time. You know, like a mix of the sour cream based enchilada sauce and this green meanie sauce. The sauce really isn't mean as in it is not very hot. It is a nice savory front of the tongue heat. This is a very labor intensive meal but I believe worth it in the end. I would not try to make this on a weekday after work, unless some of the steps were already done.

Enchiladas verdes

For the chicken:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (that's 2 to 3 breast halves)
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

For the salsa verde:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
12 tomatillos, husks and stems removed
2 poblanos, halved, stemmed, and seeded
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt
¼ dried cilantro
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
12 6-inch corn tortillas

Preheat broiler.

In a saucepan on the stovetop, sauté the onion in 2 teaspoons oil until golden brown, 6-8 minutes. Add 2 cloves garlic and cumin and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth. Add the chicken, and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through about 15-20 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking. Cool chicken. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid.

Toss tomatillos and poblanos with 2 teaspoons oil, and arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet, poblanos facing skin-side up. Broil until blackened and soft, 5-8 minutes, checking often. Put poblanos in a plastic bag and let cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Remove the skin from the poblanos. Put the tomatillos, poblanos, 1 clove garlic, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and reserved chicken cooking liquid in food processor, and process until chunky, about 8 1-second pulses. Smear bottom of 13 by 9-inch baking dish with 3/4 cup tomatillo sauce.

Shred cooled chicken by hand. Toss with cilantro, 1 1/2 cup cheese, and salt to taste.

Remove foil from baking pan and dry the pan. Brush both sides of tortillas lightly with oil and arrange on the pan. Bake until soft, 2-4 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.

Place 1/3 cup chicken filling down center of each tortilla. Roll each tortilla snugly and place in the prepared baking dish. Eight enchiladas will fit down the middle of the baking dish, and the remaining four will fit two-deep perpendicularly next to that row. Pour remaining tomatillo sauce over top of enchiladas, coating the top of each tortilla. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese and cover baking dish with foil.

Bake until heated through and cheese melted, 15-20 minutes. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then serve garnished with sour cream and thinly sliced scallions.

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