Chicken Enchiladas with Hatch Chile Sauce

I cannot describe how excited I am for Hatch Chile season! I'll tell you, this Texas girl was a little nervous when friends back home started telling me they had just bought their first Hatch chiles of the season, and I hadn't seen a single one on the shelves of our local supermarket.  It's similar to how some people feel about Pumpkin Spice Lattes. It's that fleeting season when you get to enjoy that delicious something you've been craving all year.

These large green chiles are uniquely grown in the Hatch Valley in New Mexico, and Labor Day weekend marks the annual Hatch Chile Festival in Hatch, New Mexico. It's kind of a big deal. Several local grocery stores and restaurants around Austin have begun to get in on the action too. Central Market and HEB offer in store cooking demonstrations and tons of great recipes, both in store and online. This Texan is used to her yearly indulgence of spicy deliciousness, and wasn't about to miss out. I was absolutely prepared to bribe friends and family to ship some out to Virginia for me. Which wouldn't have actually been necessary, since you can actually order them on line from places like Hatch Chile Express or The Hatch Chile Store. Hatch chile season runs through August and most of September. If you can't find them in your local grocer, check at these places or other online sites to order some today.

There are so many creative and delicious recipes for Hatch chiles that one could devote and entire cook book to it. In fact, they have! Personally, I like to make chicken enchiladas with Hatch chile sauce. I love a good green sauce, and this spicy roasted flavor hits the spot! Besides, we haven't found any good Mexican food here in Richmond yet, so it's a good chance for me to dig into my Mexican roots and bring a little of my heritage to our kitchen.

Ingredients:

1 cup roasted, peeled, and diced Hatch chiles

1 medium onion chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

3 cloves garlic minced

1/2 tsp salt

Fresh ground pepper

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp oregano

1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

Juice of 1 lime

2 1/2 cups cooked and shredded chicken

10-12 corn tortillas

1 cup shredded cheese

1 diced tomato (optional)

1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

Lime for serving

 

Roasting Chiles:

Start by roasting your chiles. I but them in large quantities, roast them, and freeze the extras. There are several methods for roasting. You can put them on a grill about 5 inches above the flame, you can broil them on a baking sheet, or you can cook them in a sautee pan or cast iron skillet. The choice is yours. You want to cook them until the skins begin to turn black and blister. You'll want to turn them throughout the roasting process to make sure they are evenly cooked. Once the skins are nice and toasted, place the chiles in a paper or plastic bag for ten minutes. This will allow them to steam and make the skins easier to remove. Gloves are recommended for this next portion. Now, run the chiles under cool water while gently peeling away the skins. This is a good opportunity to remove the stems and seeds as well. Set aside.

If you buy and roast a large batch, simply freeze the extras to use later.

 

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Making Sauce:

In a sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and cook garlic until fragrant. Add onions, cooking until slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Next, add in diced chiles, spices and chicken stock, and lime juice. Allow to simmer and cook down to about one half, stirring occasionally. Set aside mixture and allow to cool.

Once mixture has cooled a bit, remove 2/3 to a blender or food processor. Add sour cream or yogurt and blend until sauce has a nice fluid consistency. If sauce seems a bit thick, add in a little water or chicken stock. Set aside.

 

Making Enchiladas:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

With the remaining 1/3 of the sauce in your pan, turn stove a medium-low heat, add shredded chicken and stir to combine. I like to add sauteed veggies to my enchiladas to make them a little heartier and healthier. Squash, zucchini, corn, black beans, and bell peppers make yummy additions to most recipes. If you are adding veggies, sautee separately, then add to sauce with chicken. Again, if mixture is a little dry, feel free to add a touch of chicken stock to moisten. Also, if you are adding veggies, you can cut back on the amount of chicken you need for this recipe.

Once mixture is well combined, remove from heat. In a hot skillet or over your stove top burner, begin warming your tortillas. You'll want to toast them on each side until you to see little brown spots begin to form, then stack them to the side. This will make them more flexible and less prone to splitting while you are assembling your enchiladas.

Now for assembly! You'll want to start by spreading a thin layer of your sauce onto the bottom of a 9 x 13 in baking dish. Next, grab a tortilla and spoon about  2 tablespoons of chicken mixture down the center. Careful not to over fill. Roll the tortilla and place it seam side down in your baking dish, and repeat! When you have filled all of your tortillas, pour your sauce over the top. I like to leave the ends exposed just a bit to give them a bit of a crunch. Top with shredded cheese and bake for about 20 minutes. Just enough to warm it through and melt the cheese. Top with chopped tomato and parsley, then serve! I like to serve it with a lime wedge. It really brightens the flavors. Buen provecho!

 

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