Chicken Enchilada Recipe with Tomatillo Sauce: Let the Kids Cook Monday!

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Delicious chicken enchiladas with green sauce - just add rice and beans for a delicious dinner!
Delicious chicken enchiladas with green sauce - just add rice and beans for a delicious dinner! | Source

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce: Health Benefits

Tomatillos are packed with vitamin C, and contain antioxidants, niacin, and many other nutrients. This green berry grows encased in a papery husk, and is sometimes called a "ground cherry" or a "green tomato." The fruit actually belongs to the same family as the tomato, but bears little resemblance in flavor or appearance. Tomatillos have a citrus-like flavor and are very tangy.

Look in the produce aisle for fresh tomatillos - they are ripe if the husk is tight to the fruit and straw-colored. The outer calyx (or husk) must be removed before cooking the berries. Tomatillos are extremely expensive in our location (the upper midwest), so we grow our own in the summer time and can them. This makes cooking with the fruit rather simple, as I simply have to pour the can of tomatillos into the blender to make a sauce. For those who do not have a jar of canned tomatillos readily available, the fruits are simple to prepare. Simply peel off the outer husk, rinse in cold water to remove the sticky sap on the tomatillo's surface, and boil the tomatillos until they are slightly soft.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 pounds tomatillos
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro (corriander)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 pack of corn tortillas
  • 8 oz. package of Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon salt.

Note: Only adults should handle the jalapeño pepper, as the capsaicin in the pepper will stay on a child's hands and could burn their eyes or mouth. This recipe can be made without the jalapeño and will have the same flavor without the heat.

Kids Can Shred the Chicken

My four year old son uses a fork to shred cooked chicken breasts.
My four year old son uses a fork to shred cooked chicken breasts. | Source

Step 1: Cook and Shred the Chicken

Cook the chicken breasts according to your favorite method - you can either bake them in the oven, or simply cook the chicken in boiling water. Ensure the chicken is thoroughly cooked - the meat should have a temperature of at least 170°F on a meat thermometer.

Shred the chicken breasts, and place the shredded meat into a medium-sized bowl. I always have my children help with this part of the process: the chicken can be shredded with two forks or with fingers. Once the chicken is shredded, cover the bowl with saran wrap and place it in the fridge.

Making the Sauce and Chicken Filling (Photos)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My four year old son adds garlic to the blender.A six year old and four year old can cut the stems off of the cilantro with a butter knife.My six year old son presses the button to blend the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro.Pour the sauce into a skillet, add salt, and heat through.Add some sauce and cheese to the shredded chicken.My son Matthew stirs the chicken, cheese, and sauce until the ingredients are combined.
My four year old son adds garlic to the blender.
My four year old son adds garlic to the blender. | Source
A six year old and four year old can cut the stems off of the cilantro with a butter knife.
A six year old and four year old can cut the stems off of the cilantro with a butter knife.
My six year old son presses the button to blend the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro.
My six year old son presses the button to blend the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro. | Source
Pour the sauce into a skillet, add salt, and heat through.
Pour the sauce into a skillet, add salt, and heat through. | Source
Add some sauce and cheese to the shredded chicken.
Add some sauce and cheese to the shredded chicken. | Source
My son Matthew stirs the chicken, cheese, and sauce until the ingredients are combined.
My son Matthew stirs the chicken, cheese, and sauce until the ingredients are combined. | Source

Step 2: Make the Tomatillo Sauce

Tomatillos can be found in the produce section of the grocery store. They are green, and have a papery husk. The fruit will be sticky under the papery film.

  1. Remove the husks from 2 pounds of tomatillos. Boil the tomatillos until they are slightly soft (they may begin to turn yellow in the boiling water). Skim foam off the top of the water as it forms, as the foam is bitter.
  2. Strain the tomatillos and place half of them in a blender.
  3. Cut the stems off one large bunch of cilantro, and place half the cilantro leaves into the blender.
  4. Add 2 cloves of garlic to the blender.
  5. Add the jalapeno pepper to the blender (optional).
  6. Blend the ingredients above until a uniform, green sauce is obtained. Pour this sauce into a large skillet.
  7. Add the remainder of the tomatillos, garlic, and cilantro to the blender. Blend until smooth, and add this sauce to the skillet.
  8. Add 1 tablespoon salt to the sauce.
  9. Heat the sauce over medium heat, stirring gently..

Step 3: Make the Chicken Filling

  1. Add 1/3 cup sauce to the bowl containing the shredded chicken.
  2. Add 1/3 cup cheese to the bowl containing the shredded chicken.
  3. Stir the chicken mixture together and set aside.

Assembling the Enchilada Casserole

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Dredge the corn tortillas in the sauce. Place the chicken filling inside the tortilla and roll the tortilla around the filling.Place the rolled enchiladas in a 9" x 13" baking dish.Pour sauce over the enchiladas to cover the tortilla rolls and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
Dredge the corn tortillas in the sauce.
Dredge the corn tortillas in the sauce. | Source
Place the chicken filling inside the tortilla and roll the tortilla around the filling.
Place the chicken filling inside the tortilla and roll the tortilla around the filling. | Source
Place the rolled enchiladas in a 9" x 13" baking dish.
Place the rolled enchiladas in a 9" x 13" baking dish. | Source
Pour sauce over the enchiladas to cover the tortilla rolls and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
Pour sauce over the enchiladas to cover the tortilla rolls and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. | Source

Step 4: Assemble the Chicken Enchiladas and Bake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Using tongs, dredge a corn tortilla in the tomatillo sauce and place it on a plate.
  3. Add an ice-cream scoop sized amount of chicken filling on top of the soaked tortilla.
  4. Roll the tortilla around the chicken filling, and place the tortilla in a 9" x 13" glass baking dish.
  5. Repeat this process with the remaining tortillas/sauce/chicken filling until all of the chicken filling is used up.
  6. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas in the casserole dish.
  7. Sprinkle cheese on the top of the enchiladas.
  8. Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes, or until the enchiladas are heated through and the cheese is melted.

Serve with Mexican rice and black beans for a delicious dinner!

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Comments 10 comments

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan

Awesome hub! I will definitely have to try this one. I'm sure that my kids would love it. I love the pics of your boys cooking. Their wives are going to really love you for teaching them to cook! :)


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

Thanks, Cara! Oddly enough, my husband taught me to cook (no joke). My boys love helping out in the kitchen - it is fun to watch them get so excited about making dinner!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

I love enchiladas, and your homemade recipe sounds delicious. Awesome photographs of your little helper, too! Cheers, Steph


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

Thanks, Steph! Enchiladas are wonderful - to make them in a more authentic way, you can fry each corn tortilla in very hot oil to a chip like consistency, then dip the tortilla in the tomatillo sauce. This is NOT something that should be done near children, however, due to the splattering oil. It also raises the fat content considerably.. but it does make the enchiladas more authentic (most enchiladas use this method - deep frying the tortilla prior to dipping it into the sauce). I skipped the deep frying component for this recipe to make it healthier (and to make it safer for cooking with kids).


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Great series, Leah! The recipe sounds good also. Thanks. Voted up, useful and will share.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

Thanks, Peggy! I love this campaign, because it really encourages kids to participate in healthy eating!


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

Just looking at the recipe and photos makes my mouth water! I love tomatillo dishes but, alas, they're not available in Peru and I was unsuccessful growing them. I'll have to come back here next time I'm able to get my hands on tomatillos. Thank you!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

I love tomatillos - we were able to grow them here, fortunately. We live in an area that receives a lot of snow, so we direct-sow the seeds in May and usually have ripe tomatillos by August. The fruit is really expensive in our grocery stores because it is shipped in and not very many people in our local area eat them. I love them, though! I hope you can find some soon, vespawoolf!


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

Voted up and useful. Chicken enchiladas are a favorite at our house. They are quick and easy. I usually Voted up and useful. I love chicken enchiladas because they are quick and easy. I almost always have these ingreients in the kitchen. have these ingreients in the kitchen.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York Author

We LOVE enchiladas, Patsybell. I like a good red sauce more than green sauce, but my husband is a huge fan of the green sauce! I make these quite frequently - along with burritos (using the same green sauce). I would have Mexican food all the time if we had access to the ingredients! We live in the Great Lakes area, so I grow my own tomatillos over the summer and either can them or make the sauce in advance and freeze it.

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