Chicken and Spinach Enchilada Casserole with Poblano Cream Recipe

by ali

We were married in Punta Pescadero, Mexico in June of 2008. We had decided to have a smaller more intimate wedding with our family and closest friends. Part of our motivation was that my sisters live in Canada, Germany and my honorary sister lives in Norway, and we needed a way to get everyone to come. What better way than to make the setting irresistible?  The other part of it was that we wanted to trap everyone in  a quaint, relaxing environment free from distractions for a few days and make them get to know each other.

Sand Castle Building Contest the Day of Our Wedding in Mexico

Both of us come from a line of jobs in the wedding business – Scott was a videographer for many years and watched the faces of brides and grooms as they tied the knot night after night.  I was a florist, server, caterer, DJ, wedding planner and rental equipment saleswoman (in a long, weirdly connected line of event jobs and not in that order). We have both seen our share of meltdowns, bad behavior, drunken brawls, disasters and disconnected empathy at wedding parties and were determined that we would see none of it at our own but would instead create an environment that embodied the sense of adventure, joy and lightheartedness we felt about committing to each other for life.

To do that we had to take the “American wedding” out of the wedding and the players out of the country. Fortunately, they were all amenable to the plan and so we were off! We couldn’t have picked a more remote town – Punta Pescadero – 2 hours north of Cabo via narrow, spotty dirt road along the ocean, is a sleepy but enchanting fishing village discovered only by windsurfers, Marlin fisherman and Millionaires who have built custom homes and an airport on a narrow strip of beach front cliff top.  Our wedding “week” was perfect, as the customary mayor of the town and his family owned the shuttle company, the fishing boats, the taco stand and worked at the hotel bar. He organized everything and helped us rent two beautiful homes for the families (the amazing houses we rented are available on VRBO.com), arrange ATV rentals, brought daily meals, created an unbelievable night at the taco stand (complete with a cigarette smoking, break dancing DJ), startling wedding Fireworks, a VERY authentic, perfectly timed Mariachi band and a Tamale making class and family wide competitive sand castle building contest on the morning of our wedding. It was truly amazing and we can’t wait to go back on our 5th anniversary with friends and family new and old (who ask us about when we are going back all the time).

Mexican cuisine is close to our hearts for many reasons, and we are staunch Rick Bayless cookbook fans and cook Mexican cuisine quite often.  For me, taking a bite of a perfectly spicy tamale or a shrimp taco always takes me back to the night before our wedding at the taco stand where chickens, dogs, people and atv’s blurred together in the dusty sunset under a single mesquite tree drinking sweating coronas from the cooler and dancing until 2am on the dimly green lit basketball court of the local schoolyard.

This recipe is one I created. It was inspired by a Rick Bayless recipe and mixed with my craving for some poblano action that evening. It turned out better than I imagined it would, spicy, creamy and not too hot. Texture of corn tortilla and spinach laden poblano cream stretched with melted cheese and tender chicken bits on my tongue. Its more of a casserole than actual enchiladas, but you could make it either way you please and the flavors are still terrific. I encourage you to give it a try!

The final perfect plate

Ingredients

  • 20 corn tortillas (handmade) use 3 cups masa and 2 cups water to make tortilla mix. You can substitute fresh bought corn tortillas if you wish.
  • 2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and diced
  • 3 poblano peppers roasted, de-skinned, seeded and diced
  • 4 yellow tomatoes or green tomatillos
  • 2 white onions chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 lb spinach rinsed
  • 1/2 lb rainbow chard or collard greens
  • 3 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 10 oz goat cheese
  • 12 oz chicken – meat cooked and diced (we used leftover meat from boiling a chicken to make stock)
  • cilantro 1 cup chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup monterey jack or other melting cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp lard
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tsp tomato paste

You will need a tortilla press and a griddle or a cast iron pan to make tortillas.

Poblano Cream Sauce

Instructions

For ease of organization, I have divided the steps out into stages.

First – roast your poblano peppers. You can do this a few ways – either sitting directly on a burner on your stove top, under a high broiler in your oven, or in your woodstove (like we do).  Check out this link to learn more about how to roast and peel peppers.

Poblano Cream Sauce

Once they are roasted, cooled and peeled – drop them into your food processor. We have a cuisinart that works VERY well and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Easy to use, wash, etc.

Add the sour cream, 1/2 cup of whipping cream, 2 cloves of garlic and blend on high with poblanos. When thoroughly mixed – taste it and add a bit of salt as needed. It should taste so good that you should want to keep eating this off the spoon.Empty from food processor into a bowl with a spatula. Rinse food processor for use in next step.

Preheat your oven to 350

Enchilada Sauce

Throw tomatoes or tomatillos, sliced and seeded jalepenos, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, salt, pepper into the food processor and blend on high until mixed. Empty into a bowl and set aside.

Filling

In a skillet, warm lard with onions until onions are slightly carmelized (about 15 min). Add carrots and chicken broth and cook until tender. Add 2 tsp of tomato paste and mix to incorporate. Simmer 5 mins. Add Spinach and mix until wilted and blended into broth. Add pre-cooked shredded chicken and mix together. Simmer on low while you make tortillas.

Tortillas

If you have never had a handmade, homemade tortilla – shame on you. Now is your chance to redeem yourself and try one of the most tasty and simple treats you can make for PENNIES! All you really need is a tortilla press, or a cutting board and a flat bottom pan you can use to press a ball of dough into a circle. One GREAT trick I learned from watching the women make tortillas in Mexico for our wedding – cut a gallon sized zip lock bag at the seams, place one side on each side of the press and place the dough between the two pieces of plastic before pressing it – it is MUCH easier to remove the flat sticky tortilla from the press and place it on your griddle if you use this trick.

In a bowl, mix together 3 cups of masa flour and 2 cups of water. It should be like thick cookie dough. season with a little salt. Roll into small balls (about the size of a medium cookie dough ball).

Heat your griddle or cast iron pan on the stove until barely smoking. Turn to Medium High Heat and adjust as needed throughout cooking of tortillas (if they are burning, turn the heat down, etc).

Press your tortillas one at a time in your press and place them in stages on the griddle – let it sit on the first side for at least one minute.

 

On the griddle - they firm up and are easy to flip

It should grow stiff enough that you can easily flip it over without it falling apart. Each tortilla will cook for 3-5 minutes – until dried and firm. You will want to taste test a couple for doneness to get the hang of how long they should cook. I rotate my tortillas from the front to the back of the griddle as they cook to keep track of which have been cooked longest.

Store them in a bowl with a plate over it to trap in steam and help keep them moist until they are all done cooking.

Assembling the Enchiladas

In a 13 x 9 Casserole dish, spread a thin layer of your enchilada sauce. Cover with a layer of flat tortillas. Spread your moist chicken and vegetable filling and dot with goat cheese.

Enchilada Filling dabbed with goat cheese

Spread poblano cream over the top and sprinkle on a layer of cheese. Repeat until you have used all ingredients. You may need to do another small pan. Place on a sheet tray and cook for 30 minutes until bubbly, melty and golden on top.

Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, it will be easier to “slice” into pieces and plate. Enjoy with people you love!

Let me know if you have any suggestions, additions or your own version of this recipe, I love to try new things.

Assembled enchiladas ready for the oven

 

 

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Chicken and Spinach Enchilada Casserole with Poblano Cream Recipe, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
  • Victoria2dc

    Girl!!! You should be on TV or doing something very special!! I want to just jump into that first recipe and eat whatever it is. Yummm… ah, it’s The final perfect plate…

    OMG… wish you lived in CO and we could team up!! I just sent you a L O N G e-mail. I hope there is a way to either sell different broths (and ship from individual maker’s locations) using communal resources.

    How do you market healthy food to the chorus that already sings? You don’t. You have to start with educating people the long, hard way!

  • Allison

    This looks delicious! Thanks for posting this great looking recipe. :)

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