Chicken and Poblano Enchiladas with an Avocado Spinach Sauce
Jim loves Mexican food. He adores Tex-Mex food. The cheesy, spicy nachos; the fresh little tacos at the local taquerias in the city; jam-packed burritos; even…Old El Paso Taco Kits (!!!) He loves heat. And cheese. And beef. He’s a guy. So when I try to make ‘healthy’ versions of his favourite meals, he often rolls his eyes. There was once a fiasco when I attempted to make fish tacos. Sounds benign, right? I was on a restricted diet at the time: no wheat or corn. So I made my tacos out of amaranth. Well…I knew they wouldn’t taste like a normal tortillas. I was fine with that- it was good for me. Apparently Jim, not so much. He also took issue with the way I grilled the fish (poor dear is used to the battered, crispy deep fried baja fish!), and didn’t feel that the pickled red cabbage and radishes were up to par. In short, according to him, his exact words, “These don’t deserve to be called Fish Tacos.” I never made those again…
So here I was, about to try a new enchilada recipe. And it won’t have the expected red sauce. Or the typical salsa. But I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess, and I was moving ahead with it. I roasted off a large chicken breast rubbed with Mexican spices and heat, let it cool and then shredded it. I cut up one plump jalapeno and two large bright green poblano chilis. And I made the most wonderful avocado sauce. I got the inspiration for this recipe from Gimme Some Oven. She used two whole avocados. I only had one in the house. But I had a whole bunch of fresh baby spinach (ssshh- don’t tell Jim) So I thought I’d sneak in some folate, calcium and iron rich greens. Not that avocados aren’t jam-packed with health as well.
Baked the enchiladas off with the sauce and grated Monterey Jack. While it was baking, I made a salsa using pomegranate seeds, chopped dried cranberries, cilantro, shallot, olive oil, lime zest and salt and pepper. Ooooh- it was good!
So, we ate. Jim’s verdict? They’re great. Just not spicy enough. Well, that’s easy to fix. So I’ve adjusted the recipe going forward. Keeping the spinach. ‘Cuz he didn’t notice it. So, this is the enchilada recipe that goes against everything that Jim expects, and it still passed. I’m hoping this means that everyone else will like it as much, if not more! Ole! Let me know if it was hot enough for ya! Just joshin’ I wasn’t going for suicide hot or anything, just kicky.
- 2 grilled or roasted chicken breasts (see note below), enough to make 4 cups shredded chicken
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 med onion, sliced lengthwise (from 'north to south' poles)
- 1 jalepeno pepper, finely diced (removed seeds for less heat)
- 8 medium flour tortillas
- 2-3 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- optional garnishes: fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream, more shredded cheese
- Avocado Sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cups chicken stock or broth
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 avocado, pitted
- 1 cup spinach leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- juice of one lime
- Pomegranate Salsa
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced (remove seeds if concerned about the extra heat)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- pinch of salt
- Have chicken grilled, cooled and shredded. Prepare Avocado Sauce as below.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Oil a 9x13" baking pan.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over med-high heat. Add the onion and poblano slices, and the diced jalepeno and saute for 5-6 minutes till the onions are softened and translucent. Remove from heat.
- To assemble the enchiladas, place a tortilla on a cutting board. Spread a tbsp of the avocado sauce across the middle. Then layer some of the veggies, some of the chicken, and some of the cheese. Carefully roll the tortilla and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Continue with all the remaining tortillas. Drizzle the top with about half of the remaining sauce. Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 20 minutes or until the tortillas are heated through.
- Remove from the oven, and serve with extra sauce. You can also garnish with chopped cilantro or extra cheese, or sour cream. Or all!
- Melt the butter in a skillet over med-high heat. Add the flour, whisking until golden and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock. Bring up to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the sour cream, cumin, salt, garlic powder, pepper and chopped jalepeno, whisking if necessary to remove any lumps.
- Remove from the heat and let cool for a little while.
- Transfer to a blender or food processor. Add the avocado, spinach, cilantro and lime juice.
- (If liquid is still rather warm, please be careful. Cover the lid with a towel and hold it down, as the heat will expand when the motor turns on. Stop it every few moments to allow the heat to escape)
- Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
- Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside to mingle.
- You could easily use purchased rotisserie chicken for the shredded chicken.
- Or you can take two chicken breasts, drizzle them with olive oil and a tsp on each of chilli powder, cumin and a pinch of salt and pepper and roast off at 375F till cooked through, about 45 min (if boneless, 1 hour or so if bone-in) Let them cool, and then shred them up. If you have extra, add it to your breakfast burrito the next morning!