Two words: roasted tomatillos.
Okay, fine, eight words: roasted tomatillos, garlic, and jalapeños made into sauce.
Roasted tomatillo chicken enchilada casserole is where it’s at. I’ve always loved a) casseroles – yahh shoore yoobetcha (Minnesota will do that to a girl), and b) chicken enchilada anything, so this little number is right up my food alley. I first got the idea for this — wait, you already know, don’t you? — yeah, it was from Bread and Wine, the book that I can’t stop talking about. The book version is really awesomely simple because it uses canned green enchilada sauce with chicken, cheese, tortillas, and the other usual suspects.
This version, my version, involves a teensy bit more work (essentially turning on the oven and pressing a button on the food processor), but I’m gonna get bossy right now: even if you are usually more of a canned enchilada sauce person, you haffa try it this way because I’m in charge and I said so. Also, because it tastes sososo good for your hungry mouth and it’s made from scratch and it makes you feel like an awesome person who roasts tomatillos like a pro.
A few weeks ago we had a bit of a scare round these parts: my best friend had to have an emergency c-section at just 32 weeks along in her pregnancy. The good news is that she is fine and their sweet baby is out of the NICU and at home with them already, but we were all a little shaken up right after the whole ordeal, so I made the green chicken enchilada casserole from the book (um, actually, I made 1-2-3-4 pans of it) and Bjork and I delivered the mass amounts of enchilada yums to my friend and her husband to try to say we love you in a way that’s sometimes hard to put into words.
On that particular day, there was no roasting and pureeing of a sauce from scratch. This was more of a super efficient production line type of cooking, so I went straight from the book recipe and there was canned enchilada sauce involved and the whole thing was delicious. No regrets.
When I went to the store to make this again for my blog friends (and maybe I was a tiny bit motivated by the prospect of getting to eat a whole ‘nother entire pan of this? just maybe, a little bit, cheeeeese) I happened to notice a huge stack of beautiful tomatillos in the produce section.
Okay, now just know this –> normally I shop at a very regular grocery store (convenience ranks above almost anything else in my life) which has one little bin dedicated to tomatillos, and on any given day there are anywhere from 3-5 sad, brown, soggy little guys sitting in the bottom of the bin waiting to be thrown in the garbage. Fresh, perky tomatillos are not a part of my normal grocery experience.
But on this special day, I was at a fancy-shmancy person grocery store picking up some shrimp, and as I wandered through the produce aisle to grab 800 bunches of cilantro (NEVER ENOUGH), there they were! – the cutest little tomatillos in all their delicate papery glory. Not soggy or browning in my regular grocery store fashion – but instead, a big hefty pile of perfectly round, firm, green tomatillos, with wonderfully light and crispy little wrappers.
I spent one second making the decision that I was going to be making that green, spicy sauce from scratch.
And it was a really, really good decision. I roasted those tomatillos with a few jalapeños right up in the mix, and I wrapped the garlic in foil and tossed it on the baking sheet, too, because why not? Party time. Thirty minutes to MAGIC, you guys. Once the roasty part was done, the whole thing (including spicy jalapeños with seeds because some like it haute) was whirred up in the food processor, and the browned roasted bits and the chunkiness of the tomatillos throughout the sauce – whoa yes. The sauce had incredible texture and really tangy, spicy, roasty-delicious flavor that was just begging to get cozy with melted cheese, chicken, and tortillas.
Once the sauce is all set, I put together a few layers of flour tortillas dipped in water for extra-soft-numminess (corn is usually my go-to but something about flour makes this all the more homey and soft and perfect) and topped them with generous scoops of homemade roasted tomatillo magic verde sauce, shredded chicken, and white melty cheese. There was no rolling – see above note about convenience ranking above almost all else in my life – and almost the entire recipe was hands-off, even though the sauce is made from scratch. That is my kinda recipe right there.
I will say – in hindsight, I wish I would have piled some bright red tomatoes on top or something because the white-ish-yellow-ish super saucy and cheesy pan with specks of green everywhere isn’t necessarily the camera’s best friend. But friends. Let’s be real: me trying to do anything with a ooey gooey spicy cheesy pan of this right in front of my face = a completely lost cause anyway. Five bites, one picture. Nine bites, one picture. And then half the pan was gone and HOW DID THAT HAPPEN.
Tomatillo time for you!
- 15 tomatillos, paper removed
- 3 jalapeño peppers
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup loosely packed green onions (green parts)
- up to 1½ cups chicken or vegetable broth (SEE NOTES)
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 8-inch flour tortillas
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1½ cups shredded cheese
- SAUCE: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the tomatillos and jalapeño peppers on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Wrap the garlic cloves up in a small piece of foil, drizzling the with a bit of oil as well before you wrap it up. Place the foil garlic packet on the baking sheet with the tomatillos. Roast for 15 minutes - stir once to prevent burning, and roast for another 15 minutes. Unwrap the foil and transfer the roasted garlic, tomatillos, and jalapeños to a food processor. Add the cilantro and green onions. Pulse until mostly smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the broth, sour cream, and oil.
- CHICKEN: While the sauce is roasting, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the chicken, turn heat off, and cover tightly. Let rest for 30 minutes. This will poach the chicken - it should be cooked by the time the sauce is done. When it's done, shred the chicken and reserve the water.
- ASSEMBLE: Dip a tortilla in the hot water from step two until it's very soft. Lay it on the bottom of a greased 9-inch square baking dish. Cut the next tortilla in half, dip the halves in the water, and place them in the corners of the pan. Layer with half of the chicken, one third of the sauce, and one third of the cheese. Repeat layers. End with a final layer of tortillas, sauce, and cheese.
- BAKE: Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes until hot and bubbly - I'd put a pan underneath to catch sauce drips. Sprinkle with extra cilantro before serving.
PS. I made and shot this recipe at HOME home, like, my parents’ house, because of that one thing called I Don’t Have A Kitchen Right Now (hello remodel), and the perks of working from HOME home include having two special friend helpers with every single thing that I do in the kitchen. These two are the cutest little doggie duo ever, and naturally, they love love love roasted tomatillo chicken enchilada casserole. Makes me think we need to get a dog, cat, or sommmething furry and cute ASAP. Bjork? Hello? Are you there?