Since I love pretty much all Mexican food, it would be hard for me to pick a favorite, but I particularly love any dish poured over with salsa verde, made of tomatillos. This fresh, slightly tart, and bright green sauce is so aromatic and flavorful, that you can't help but think of Mexico. Sometimes, though it's hard to differentiate between authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes. Many foods that are popular in American culture are interpretations of Mexican foods. Just think of nachos, burritos, and chili. But no matter the actual origin of these foods, they all taste great due to the familiar Mexican flavors.
My favorite dish, enchiladas Suizas, isn't entirely Mexican either. But it's served at Mexican restaurants and is for all its worth considered authentic. As the story goes, Swiss immigrants brought their love of dairy products along with them to Mexico, where they opened dairies and began producing cheeses like the ones they knew back home. Somewhere along the line, the traditional dish of enchiladas, made with either red or green salsa, was reinterpreted using the Swiss cheese (Suizas means Swiss). The dish consists of corn tortillas wrapped around filling, then layered in a casserole, poured over with salsa verde, and covered with cheese. It's Mexican home-cooked comfort food at its best.
In this recipe I fill the tortillas with shredded rotisserie chicken from the market. It offers a quick and easy shortcut to getting this meal on the table in no time. You can also use your own roast or poached chicken. A combination of roast peppers, onions, and cheese also makes a traditional filling. Enchiladas are great for family dinner and make nice leftovers to eat for lunch at the office the next day. Try this dish at home and you will find it's easier and cheaper to make it yourself rather than going out.
For the rest of the month and a bit into March, I'll be posting on my favorite international comfort foods. These are foods I often seek out in restaurants but also find they can be made successfully at home.
Chicken Enchiladas Suizas
for the salsa verde:
1-1/2 pounds tomatillos
1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapeños, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup mint leaves
fine sea salt
for the tortillas:
2 roasted chicken breasts, shredded
12 6-inch corn tortillas
8 ounces Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
thinly sliced red onion
To make the salsa, remove husks from tomatillos. Wash, core, and chop into small chunks. Add to blender and pulse until completely smooth. Add onion and garlic; blend until smooth. Add jalapeños, cilantro, and mint; blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat, about 10 minutes. Season with salt.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a 9-by-13 baking dish or four gratin dishes with oil.
Spread a third of the salsa in the bottom of the baking dish. Warm the tortillas, one by one, over a gas flame or in a dry skillet until pliable. Add a small mound of shredded chicken to each tortilla, fold up, and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Once all the tortillas are arranged in the dish, pour over with half the remaining salsa. Save some salsa for serving. Scatter cheese on top. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve with additional salsa on the side. Top servings with sour cream, onion slices, and cilantro. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.