Chicken Verde Enchilada Bake with Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salsa
Chicken Verde Enchilada Bake with Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salsa is shredded chicken breast smothered in a homemade verde sauce, layered with tortillas and cheese. Top it off with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a fresh heirloom tomato salsa, and you’ve got a delicious way to enjoy your enchiladas…no rolling required.
And the tomatillo love continues….:) My last post sung the praises of tomatillos in my Mango Tomatillo Guacamole in its raw form. This Chicken Verde Enchilada Bake celebrates tomatillos cooked…nice and charred under the broiler. I love them both ways, and I can’t seem to get enough of them these days. I made this bake 2 weeks ago thinking nobody in my family would want to eat it but me. To my surprise, everyone loved it, and the kids even asked for seconds. Seconds! I told my kids I’d hit the jackpot with this one, and it’s completely true. 🙂
This recipe was inspired by a Slow Cooker Chicken Verde recipe in the May issue of Cooking Light magazine. I’ve been wanting to make a homemade verde sauce for ages, and it looked so easy, that I had no excuses. This recipe is a three-parter, but they’re three easy parts. Making the sauce is super simple first part. Prep your tomatillos, onions, jalapeño, and garlic, toss them in some canola oil, and broil them up for 10 minutes.
Maybe you think some of those parts look way too charred to be good? Trust me, they’re good. We want this char in our sauce! Add your charred veggies to a food processor with some fresh cilantro, dried oregano, a bit of sugar, cornstarch, lime juice, and some water, and process it until it’s pretty smooth. As you can see, mine still has a few chunks. 😉
In my best Barefoot Contessa voice, I’m asking you, “How easy is that?” 🙂 In 20-25 minutes, you have homemade verde sauce!
The second part of the recipe is slow cooking your chicken breasts with the verde sauce. Place the chicken in the slow cooker with your sauce, and cook on low for 3-4 hours, or until the chicken is nice and tender, and shreds easily. My chicken was perfectly done in 3 1/2 hours. Remove the chicken, shred it, then mix it back in with the sauce.
The third and final part of the recipe is baking your masterpiece. Preheat the oven, and get layering. Think Mexican lasagna here…verde sauce with chicken, tortillas, and cheese. Use an 8×8″ square baking dish, and put just enough sauce on the bottom to cover and keep those tortillas moist. Halve 3 small tortillas — I used Mission artisan corn and whole wheat blend, which were delicious! –, and overlap them over the sauce. Top with half of the sauce, and sprinkle on your favorite cheese. Repeat one more time with 3 more tortillas, the remaining sauce, and more cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, and done. 🙂
Being that this recipe is a 3-parter, you can make the sauce ahead of time. Then when you’re ready to cook it with the chicken, you can make that ahead of time until you’re ready to bake it. I haven’t tried freezing the sauce yet, but I will. It would sure be nice to have a great Mexican meal only 30 minutes away on any given week night. 🙂
I know I told you there’s only 3 parts to this recipe, and the enchilada bake tastes great if you stop there. Why settle for great, however, when you can have extraordinary? The first time I made this bake I topped it with a dollop of Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro…like I said, it was great. I got to thinking that it would be even better topped with a fresh salsa over that, and it certainly was. While your enchilada bake is in the oven, chop up your salsa ingredients, and you’re all set for a homemade Mexican fiesta that everyone will be happy about. Consider Cinco de Mayo meal planning done. 🙂
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 lb. tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed (halve them if they're large, or leave whole if they're small).
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 large jalapeño, seeded and halved
- ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro (I used stems and all)
- ¼ cup water
- juice of one lime
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- (6) small corn and wheat blend tortillas (I used Mission artisan corn and wheat blend)
- 1½ cups of grated Mexican cheese blend (I used Tillamook brand)
- Greek yogurt, for garnish (I used Chobani 0% plain)
- 1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the broiler. Toss the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapeño in the canola oil and place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Broil for 10 minutes until nicely charred. If the tomatillos are large, they may need another 2 minutes under the broiler. Place the vegetables in a food processor, and add the ½ cup cilantro, water, lime juice, sugar, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Process until as smooth as possible. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, or lime juice if necessary.
- Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and place them in a slow cooker. Pour the sauce over the chicken, and cook on low 3-4 hours, or until the chicken is no longer pink and shreds very easily. Remove from the slow cooker and shred. Place the chicken back in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly with the verde sauce.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8" square baking dish with cooking spray. Place just enough of the chicken verde on the bottom of the baking dish to cover. Halve (3) of the tortillas and overlap sideways, covering the sauce. Cover with half of the remaining chicken verde, and sprinkle with half of the grated cheese. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, chicken verde, and cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- Place the cherry tomatoes, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Let stand at room temperature to let the flavors marry. Top the enchilada bake with a dollop of Greek yogurt and salsa. Enjoy!
The verde sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
The chicken verde can be made ahead in the slow cooker and stored in the refrigerator until ready to make the enchilada bake.
This bake goes fast, so you may want to double the recipe!
Chicken Verde Sauce inspired by Cooking Light magazine's Slow Cooker Chicken Verde. Recipe by Flavor the Moments.