Friday, August 24, 2012

Cafe Tacuba-Style Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

I've been cooking the recipes of Rick Bayless once a week for five full months now.  This recipe, for Cafe Tacuba-Style Creamy Chicken Enchiladas, is hands down my favorite Rick Bayless recipe from the whole five month period.  I am so glad I spotted this dish over on the Sweet Life or else I may have missed out on it's deliciousness.

These enchiladas are absolute perfection in my opinion.  The sauce is a flavorful and creamy combination of spinach and poblano chiles with just the right hint of garlic. That delicious sauce blankets the corn tortillas and chicken to make for one extremely comforting dish.  These enchiladas were pretty much inhaled at my house.  Next time around I'd consider doubling the recipe so there would be leftovers.

Instead of rolling individual enchiladas I chose to make more of an enchilada bake.  I used twelve corn tortillas, layering six of them on the bottom of the dish, adding the filling, then layering the remaining six corn tortillas on top (the directions below reflect this). This style is much easier, quicker, and way less messy and I like the end result just as well.  I would recommend this style over hand rolling twelve enchiladas any day of the week.  However, if you choose to hand roll the enchiladas then you will need to soften your corn tortillas by heating them until they are pliable and brushing them with a little oil so you can work with them.

One Note:  Once I assembled the enchilada bake I felt like there was way too much sauce to pour over the top.  I went ahead and poured all that sauce on anyway and I'm glad I did.  The enchiladas really soak up that sauce and everything turned out excellent.  So, if you decide to make this recipe, go ahead and pour all that sauce on top.  You'll be happy you did!
Cafe Tacuba-Style Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from SweetLife
Serves 4-6

2 poblano chiles
1 cup roughly chopped spinach leaves
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons butter 
 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup flour
3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (I bought a rotisserie chicken)
12 corn tortillas
A little vegetable oil for brushing or spraying
About 1 cup Mexican melting cheese (Chihuahua, quesadilla, asadero, monterrey jack, or mild cheddar)
cilantro for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F.
Make the sauce– Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler. Turning regularly, until the skins have blistered and blackened on all side, about 5 minutes for an open flame, about 10 minutes under the broiler. Cover with a kitchen towel and, when handleable, rub off the blackened skin, tear open and pull out the seed pod and stem. Quickly rinse to remove any stray seeds or bits of skin. Roughly chop and put in a blender jar. Add the spinach. 
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and broth, set over medium-low heat to warm.
In a large (4quart) saucepan, melt butter (or heat the oil) over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute to release its aroma, then add flour and stir the mixture for a minute. Raise the heat to medium-high.  Pour in the warm broth mixture and whisk constantly until the sauce boils. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. 
Pour half the hot sauce into the blender with the chiles and spinach. Cover loosely (I remove the center part of the lid, secure the lid, then drape a cloth over the whole thing.) and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sauce. Taste and season well with salt, usually about 2 teaspoons. 
Finishing the enchiladas– smear about 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish. Stir 1 cup of the sauce into the chicken.  Next, lay half of the tortillas (six) on top of the sauce that you added to the 13 x9 baking dish.  Now lay all of the chicken mixture on top of the tortillas making sure to spread the chicken in an even layer on top of the tortillas.  Finally, layer the remaining six tortillas on top of the chicken and cover the tortillas with the remaining sauce (this will seems like a lot of sauce but the enchiladas really absorb it well so go ahead and use it all).  Top the sauce with the shredded cheese and place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown.  Remove the enchiladas and garnish with cilantro.


  1. Oh. My. I can see why this is your favorite. Creamy roasted poblano sauce. Cheesy topping. This is too good to miss.

  2. Oh, this looks so good!!! I'm going to make this and use your modifications, I like the whole baked thing.

  3. Look at all of that cheesy goodness. Great way to use left-over chicken.

  4. Holy smokes, does this ever look good!

  5. Those do look ridiculously awesome. I may be next in line to make them...

  6. I'm bookmarking these to make next week. I agree with your method of making a bake instead of individual rolling. I do eggplant rollatine that way, too.

  7. Wow, this does looks so mouth-watering! Looks really delicious, bookmarked! Thanks for sharing this!

  8. What dedication, to faithfully cook for five months from one cookbook. I have too much recipe, ADD, I'm afraid. Wow! You have no idea how much I love Mexican food. For years, I made my Nana's traditional beef enchiladas by rolling each one. One day, I did the layered corn tortillas, like you did, and have never looked back. So much easier! For sure, I'm going to add this to my menu. I love all the ingredients, especially the poblanos and spinach.

  9. Bravo for you!! It's quite an accomplishment to follow weekly for 5 mos! I doubt I can keep up as well, but I'll try! Love that you went wild and stacked your tortillas for enchiladas!! I turned my DIL on to that idea as she does two baking pans to feed her brood...that's otherwise a powerful lot of rolled enchiladas! I roll for just the two of us, or for company...but potlucks and such go "Sonora" style enchiladas. This is similar to a poblano cream sauce from the Dallas, TX newspaper, so I'm betting it's wonderful! A little too hot here for much baking, but Fall IS coming!

  10. How I wish I had this dish right now!!! Looks absolutely delicious. Got to get the ingredients on shopping day. Thanks so much.

  11. I've been majorly craving enchiladas recently and I've been loving all the bayless recipes that you've posted so I'm thinking these are a serious winner. I might substitute some beans for the chicken but other than that, these are definitely happening!

  12. i rarely roll my enchiladas, layering them is so much easier. these look amazing, i love that i can sneak spinach into my kid's (and husband's) diet while they rave about how delicious dinner is :) i can't wait to make these!

  13. What a beautiful combination of spicy and cheesy yumminess! (Sigh!)

  14. I'm pretty sure that if I made that for Charles - he would propose all over again. Delish!

  15. Yes, leftovers would definitely be a good thing. I like that you layered it, I may do that with the enchildas I'm making tonight.

  16. well the concept of creamy chicken seems so tasty....spices combination also make it quite interesting dish...All thanks to Kim for sharing this recipe with all of us.

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  17. I admit it. I've been stuck in an enchilada rut. thank you for the fresh ideas!

  18. These do look creamy, decadent and just wonderful. Great pick! ;-)

  19. For you to give them top honors like this, I KNOW they must be great so I just pinned this.

  20. Hi Kim. I made these and my family and I loved, creamy, cheesy, and a nice kick from the poblanos. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks so much.

  21. Just wanted to let you know that I made this dish yesterday for an afternoon football game (on TV) and everyone LOVED it! I had to change a couple of things because of lack of ingredients. I used flour tortillas and green peppers in place of the pablanos. We live in a small town, and I would have had to travel too far to find them. It all worked Great recipe.

  22. Oh. My. I can see why this is your favorite. Creamy roasted poblano sauce. Cheesy topping. This is too good to miss.

  23. Hi~ I just found your comment I was scanning through my spam and found it there stashed away since 8-21, thanks for the shout out!! These are one of my favorite famiyl meals, so creamy and dreamy. Gotta love Rick!!

  24. I'm pretty sure that if I made that for Charles - he would propose all over again. Delish!

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