Mr. SGCC is not exactly what you would call a gastronome. Don’t get me wrong. He loves to eat and appreciates good food. But, local and sustainable are words he doesn’t normally associate with with that food. He doesn’t care if his chicken is free range or if his beef is grass fed. He can’t tell the difference between heirloom tomatoes and any other kind. And, when it comes to Key lime pie, it’s Sara Lee all the way for him! As long as whatever dish in front of him tastes good, he’ll eat it.
Mr. SGCC also travels a lot for work. Several times each month, you’ll find him tooling up and down the highways and in and out of rural towns from Miami to Tallahassee. Sometimes, he’ll tell me about a guy in Okeechobee he passed selling wild shrimp out of the back of his truck, or a farm stand in Ruskin selling ripe and juicy just-picked tomatoes. I’ll ask excitedly, “Ooh! Did you stop and get some?” The answer is always the same.
“Nope. I was in a hurry. Besides, you can get that stuff here.”
Um….. No, I can’t. Sigh…..
So, imagine my surprise when he brought a bag full of these home last week.
In case you don’t recognize them, they’re avocados – Florida avocados to be exact.
Florida avocados are much larger than the more common Hass avocados from California. And, while Hass avocados have a dark green, dimply skin, our local variety has a smooth, shiny, light green skin. They’re also not quite as rich and buttery as the Hass. But, since Mr. SGCC bought these avocados out of a laundry basket from a lady sitting in a lawn chair on the side of the road, I guess they’re about as local as you can get.
And true to form, these avocados were HUGE! In fact, I’ve has a pretty hard time using them up before they go bad. I made guacamole, salads and even ice cream with them, and still had some left. I got a great tip from Elise and also made this recipe with some of the salmon I brought back from Seattle. (Don’t fret. The ice cream and salmon dish are coming soon!)
Finally, I was down to my last avocado half. To be honest, as much as we love avocados around here, we were getting a little sick of “avocado-centric” dishes. So, I decided to mix things up and make a dish that would be complemented, instead of dominated by some avocado.
One of my favorite Mexican dishes is Enchiladas Suizas. Usually filled with chicken, these enchiladas are smothered with a creamy, dreamy, cheesy sauce and baked, casserole-style. Suiza means Swiss, and in Mexican cuisine is used to describe a dish is topped with a white, dairy-based sauce. I had tried my hand at making Enchiladas Suizas before and was less than thrilled with the results. Mine always turned out a little bland and too creamy (if there is such a thing). So, I grazed a bit around the web and nibbled on a little of this and a bite of that to come up with a few ideas to spice up my enchiladas.
Here’s how I made them.
The first thing I did was buy a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket for my enchilada filling. You heard me. This recipe calls for shredded, cooked chicken. Why spend time cooking up chicken at home when you can buy it already done for you? Plus, an average-sized rotisserie chicken will yield perfect amount of meat needed for this filling. So, do yourself a favor. Buy a rotisserie chicken and get over it.
Next, you have to make the suiza sauce. There are several ways to do this. Some recipes start with a béchamel and add cheese and tomatillos. Others simply use a puree of tomatillo sauce and Mexican crema or sour cream. On a Thursday night I’m all about the simple, so I went with version two. My little twist here is that I also added some roasted poblano peppers to the puree for a little extra zing. If you don’t feel like roasting poblanos, you can also use a few cans of fire-roasted green chiles. It doesn’t pack quite the same punch, but it works. I’m here to make your lives easier. I’m considerate like that.
If you do feel up to roasting some peppers, there are a few different methods you can use. If you’re lucky enough to have a gas stove, you can roast them right on top of one of the burners. Here is the link to a quick video that shows how to do it. If you’re like me and stuck with electric, you can also roast the poblanos under the broiler. First, turn on the broiler and place the poblanos on a baking sheet lined with some foil. I like to rub a smidgen of oil on them to help things along. Put the peppers in the oven, about 4-5 inches from the the broiler element. They will deflate and the skins will blister and turn black. Turn the peppers as needed to char all sides evenly. Then, remove the roasted poblanos from the oven, place them in a paper bag and seal the bag. Allow the peppers to sweat in the bag for about 10 to 15 minutes. When you remove them from the bag they will be easy to peel. Peel the skin off of the poblanos and remove the seeds and stem. Then all you have to do is dice them up.
After your sauce is made, it’s time to prepare the filling. Sauté the chicken with diced onions. I threw some of the poblanos in there too. Add a little chicken broth and crema to moisten it up.
The filling should look like this – nice and creamy, but not too wet.
Then, fill some tortillas with some filling and roll them up. You can use either flour or corn tortillas. I used flour because the tortilleria near my house had just made fresh ones. You just can’t beat homemade, still-warm-from-the-press tortillas!
Line ‘em up in a baking dish, pour on the suiza sauce and sprinkle with lots of cheese.
After you bake them, they should look something like this.
Mmmm! Muy delicioso!
Now, you’re probably wondering where the avocado fits into all of this. Well, I made a jaunty little salsa with it to top the enchiladas. It was the perfect complement too. The acid from the lime juice and the punch of the cilantro really offset the richness of the suiza sauce.
Let me tell you, people. These Enchiladas Suizas were the best I’ve ever eaten – even in a Mexican Restaurant! They were seriously To. Die. For. You absolutely have to make them for yourselves. And when you do, don’t bother to thank me. Your happiness is thanks enough!
4 large poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced, divided (You can also use 4 cans of roasted green chiles)
4 cups cooked chicken, shredded (I use a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket.)
3 tablespoons olive oil, Spanish, if you have it
1 large onion, diced
1 whole jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups Mexican crema or sour cream, divided
2 cups tomatillo sauce (homemade or jarred), divided
2 cups mild, white cheese like Queso or Monterey Jack, Grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
12 flour or corn tortillas
Avocado Salsa for garnish (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
To make the filling, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent and slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add half of the diced poblanos, the chicken, jalapeno and garlic powder and continue to sauté about 2 minutes more. Add broth and crema and bring to a simmer. Simmer until liquid is evaporated and mixture is soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make the sauce, combine tomatillo sauce, remaining crema, poblanos and a pinch of salt together in a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
To assemble, ladle 1 cup of the sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 casserole dish. Spoon about 1/4 cup of chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon cheese on top and roll them up. Arrange, seam side down in one layer in the casserole. Cover with the rest of sauce; sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until sauce gets bubbly and cheese starts to brown.
Top with Quick Avocado Salsa and serve immediately.
Quick Avocado Salsa
1/2 Florida avocado or 1 Haas avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, diced
Juice of one half of a lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Salt to taste
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve over Enchiladas Suizas.