Chicken Enchiladas with Tomato Cream Sauce is our all time favorite enchilada recipe. These enchiladas are made by roasting fresh tomatoes and chile peppers and then baked bubbly topped with tomato cream sauce.
This recipe has been updated and improved on September 20, 2019
October 11, 2009: Today we’re cooking indoors, using our indoor voices, because its 19 DEGREES in Denver. I didn’t know traditional fall colors of gold, rust, and yellow would also include white. Yes, a dusting of snow covers my beautiful summer, now dead, flowers.
They’ve even cancelled the Rockies Playoff Game tonight because of inclement weather. We’ve gone from Summer, one week of Fall and smack dab into Winter. I doubt Alaska has even dipped below 20 degrees yet this year. Puff the Magic Weber didn’t even have time to frolic in the Autumn mist, he’s all icy.
Good Mexican Restaurants in Denver Metro
Before we get started, I’d like to climb on my soapbox and talk a little about Mexican Food. I’ve yet to find a really good Mexican Restaurant in Denver. One that serves some authentic fresh fare. Actually I’ve yet to find a good Tex-Mex restaurant in our city.
We’ve got plenty of those Americanized Mexican food joints. You know those places that bring you a huge plate of steaming greasy glop that’s covered in two cups of a greasy melted yellow cheese. Not a fan.
With that said, I am a fan of Rick Bayless and the recipes that he brings us. He has spent many years living in Mexico and brings to us his fresh, delicious creations inspired by authentic Mexican cuisine. The following recipe is adapted from a recipe of his. His recipe for Chicken Enchiladas with Tomato Cream Sauce has become on of our favorites.
On Making Enchiladas, No Soggy Enchiladas
I’ve always said, that if someone makes enchiladas for you, it means they love you. The process can be tedious but the flavor outcome, incredible. Who can resist a savory sauce and lots of cheese.
So, pour yourself a glass of wine and let’s get started. I’ve made these chicken enchiladas according to instructions, using fresh tomatoes and fresh chile peppers. Please keep in mind, you can make this recipe using good quality canned tomatoes, San Marzano is my choice.
One of the reasons that making enchiladas can be a tedious task is that the corn tortillas need to be conditioned so they don’t turn out soggy or mushy. Soggy enchiladas break my heart.
First of all, we all know that you can’t just take a corn tortilla out of the package from the store and wrap some chicken in it to make a taco. You’ve got to soften that tortilla by warming it up or fry it to make it crisp. The same applies to making enchiladas.
The soft corn tortillas need to be quickly fried. Only then can they be rolled into enchiladas. Quick frying creates a barrier on the surface of the tortilla which allows the tortilla to soak up a little of the sauce, but not enough to disintegrate it. This quick fry also adds that flavor to the corn tortilla that you love with that hint of caramelization.
In this recipe, Rick Bayless achieves this barrier by spraying the tortillas with oil and baking them. Seems to work like a charm.
First, let’s make the tomato cream sauce.
- Place about 15 medium sized tomatoes and 3 chile peppers on a baking sheet.
- Broil in oven about 5 inches from heat for five minutes.
- I used two Jalapeno and one Anaheim pepper. I also like 2 Poblano Peppers for this recipe and one jalapeno for a little kick of heat
- I would suggest when in season, use fresh tomatoes. You can also use canned tomatoes, which don’t need to be roasted, but you still need to roast the peppers.
- When you start to see charred spots, turn the tomatoes and peppers over and broil another 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool.
- Working over the same baking sheet, remove skins and cores from the tomatoes and remove skins from the peppers.
- Remove veins and seeds from the jalapeno if you want to lessen the heat factor.
Place tomatoes and peppers along with the juices from the baking sheet into a food processor and puree.
In a Dutch oven saute one chopped onion in olive oil until tender, about 7 minutes. Lard or bacon fat is even better here.
- Turn up heat to medium high and add pureed tomato/chili mixture to onion.
- Add chicken broth.
- Partially cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- When done, texture should be soupy. If the sauce is too thick add a little more broth.
- Add 1/2 C. cream, set aside and keep warm.
- Meanwhile, coat three boneless, skinless chicken breast halves in olive oil and roast for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Cool and shred the meat. Set aside.
- Grate two cups of Monterey Jack cheese. Muenster or Pepper Jack works well here also.
On a baking sheet, place 12 oiled corn tortillas. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with a towel to keep warm.
Spoon 1/2 of the tomato cream sauce into a baking pan. Working fast, so tortillas don’t cool, place shredded chicken inside a warm tortilla and roll.
Start placing enchiladas seam side down into the sauce.
Spoon the remaining sauce over the enchiladas.
- Sprinkle with Monterey Jack Cheese.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbly and cheese just starts to brown.
- You’ve got yourself some creamy chicken enchiladas with a beautiful tomato cream sauce.
To serve, place Enchiladas on a plate, garnish with onion rings and cilantro.
Recipe for Chicken Enchiladas with Tomato Cream Sauce
I hope you give this cheesy chicken enchilada recipe a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating and leave a comment about your experience with the recipe.
And if you have a favorite chicken enchilada recipe, let me know I’d love to give it a try.
More Enchilada Recipes
- Ground Beef Enchiladas with Red Sauce
- Beer Braised Pulled Pork Enchilada Verde
- Cheesy Chilly Truck Stock Enchiladas
- New Mexico Stacked Enchiladas
And if you love Mexican food, don’t miss my Mexican Southwest Category. It’s chock full of ole’ goodness. And you’ll find the most popular recipe of all time on my site, Hatch Green Chili, Colorado Style.
These seriously are the best chicken enchiladas ever. And it’s all due to a very special (and easy) homemade tomato cream sauce that will knock your socks off.
- 3 whole green chiles I like 2 poblano and 1 jalapeno
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth plus a little extra if needed
- 1/2 cup Mexican Crema or creme fraiche or heavy whipping cream
- 3 pounds fresh tomatoes or 2-28 ounce cans good quality whole tomatoes, drained
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon vegetable oil Or lard. Plus a little for brushing or spraying the tortillas
- 2 cups coarsley shredded chicken breast grilled, roasted, or rotisserie
- 2/3 cup Mexican Cheese Shredded. Monterey Jack, Chihuahua, quesadilla, asadero
- 12 corn tortillas
- 6 slices yellow onion separated into rings for garnish
- Fresh Cilantro for garnish
For fresh tomatoes: Roast the tomatoes and chiles on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, until they're darkly roasted.
If using canned tomatoes: In a small dry skillet, roast the chiles over medium heat, turning regularly, until they're soft and splotchy-black, about 5 minutes. Place in a blender or food processor along with the drained canned tomatoes. Blend to a smooth puree. I like to roast the poblano peppers over my stovetop gas flame.
In a 4-5 quart Dutch oven, heat the oil or lard over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until golden, about 7 minutes.
Raise the heat to medium-high, and stir in the tomato puree. Cook, stirring, until darker in color and thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in the broth, partially cover and simmer 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. The sauce should be a slightly soupy consistency—not as thick as spaghetti sauce. If it is too thick, stir in a little additional broth. Keep warm over low heat.
Stir the crema into the sauce. Put the chicken in a bowl and stir 1/2 cup of the sauce mixture into it. Taste and season with additional salt if you think it needs it.
Heat the oven to 350°. Smear about 1/4 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking dish.
Lay the tortillas out on a baking sheet (2 sheets if you have them, for more even heating), and lightly brush or spray both sides of the tortillas with oil. Bake just to warm through and soften, about 3 minutes. Stack the tortillas and cover with a towel to keep warm.
Working quickly so the tortillas stay hot and pliable, roll a portion of the chicken into each tortilla, then line them all up in the baking dishes. Douse evenly with the remaining sauce, then sprinkle with the cheese.
Bake until the enchiladas are hot through (the cheese will have begun to brown), about 15 minutes.
Garnish with onion rings and cilantro sprigs. These are best served piping hot from the oven.
We paired this with a Borsao Ciranza. It has a cherry red color with touches of garnet and an elegant, deep ruby background. In the nose, we perceive its great intensity where fruity and varietal tones are combined perfectly with vanilla and smooth oak tannins. Intense in the mouth, fleshy and well-structured with an ample and pleasing aftertaste. (I didn’t write that, that comes directly from the web site – but yes “what they say”).