Monday, February 28, 2011

Just Call Me Senorita Suiza

Rachael Ray's got a show on the Cooking Channel called "A Week in a Day" where she prepares five make-ahead meals in one afternoon. The idea is that spending a little time on the weekend will easily give you five fresh meals for the week. I'm not necessarily a fan of that type of forethought because I tend to cook on a whim ... but I certainly understand how it can be handy for busy families who have trouble getting dinner on the table.(Although, unless you love to cook so much that you're willing to give up an entire Sunday afternoon to do it, I don't know how realistic this approach really is!)

Anyway, I caught this show for the first time on Saturday and she made one recipe that intrigued me: roasted chicken enchiladas suizas casserole. It used a few ingredients (poblanos, tomatillos) and methods (roasting peppers) that were new to me, so I thought I would give it a try.

I had heard of enchiladas suizas, but couldn't have told you what they were. Thank goodness Rachael enlightened me. Apparently Swiss immigrants to Mexico blended to two cuisines, resulting in dishes like this. Oddly enough, Rachael failed to mention what I later learned from Wikipedia: the dish typically has a bechamel-type white sauce. Her recipe does not, but I'll give her a pass because it was still delicious.

Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients here. The recipe really is quick and easy (it's from Rachael Ray, after all!).

Enchilada Suizas Stacked Casserole
4 poblano peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
12 tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and quartered
2 small handfuls cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons honey
1 quart chicken stock
Salt and pepper
1 lime, juiced
2 lbs. cooked chicken, meat shredded
16 corn tortillas, softened
1 cup Mexican crema (or sour cream)
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Heat broiler to high. Arrange poblanos on a sheet pan, put them under the hot broiler and char them on all sides, about 10 to 12 minutes. Alternatively, you can char them over an open flame on a gas stove (which is what I did). Place charred peppers in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to sit until cool enough to handle. Peel and seed the peppers. (I learned that the plastic wrap allows to peppers to steam a bit after you char them, making them easier to peel later. So definitely don't skip that step!)

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add jalapeno, onion and garlic. Cook until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Put the tomatillos and cilantro in a food processor. Coarsely chop the poblanos and add them to the processor. Process until an almost smooth sauce forms, about 1 minute. Pour the sauce into the skillet and stir to combine. Add cumin, honey and stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes. Add lime juice and turn off the heat.

Pour a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a medium casserole dish. Place 3 or 4 tortillas in the bottom of the dish, top with chicken, sauce, crema (or sour cream, which is what I used) and a handful of both cheeses (I only used Jack because Bill doesn't like Swiss). Repeat layer twice more.

Bake in a 375 degree oven about 40 to 50 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly on top.

BTW, I took a shortcut and used a store-bought rotisserie chicken. An alternative to that is my trusty poaching method: just boil a few chicken breasts and shred the meat with two forks. Roasting the poblanos was a cinch (I'm sure the broiler technique is just as easy - or even easier ... and probably safer - than using an open flame), and I learned that I really like tomatillos. In fact, I think I should make some salsa verde!

Also, I halved the recipe because Bill and I would never be able to eat the giant casserole this makes. It ended up being the perfect portion for dinner and we had just enough leftovers. Plus, it was super tasty and is even better the next day (I had it again for lunch this afternoon!). You can call me a regular Senorita Suiza! (For those of you who are Spanish-challenged, that's Swiss Miss.)

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