green chile chicken open-faced or rolled enchiladas

These are the traditional favorite of most visitors to New Mexico and very popular with natives, as well. The yummy green chile sauce tucked between layers of tortilla and richly melted cheese makes for a delicious entrée that can be readied two hours before baking if desired.

Yield: 4 servings
8 white, yellow, or blue corn tortillas
1 cup oil for frying, optional
1 recipe Green Chile Sauce
¾ cup 50/50 mixture of grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, or to taste
½ cup or 1 medium-sized onion, chopped finely
¼ cup sour cream

Garnish: 1 tablespoon crushed caribe chile, 6 leaves each coarsely chopped romaine and red leaf lettuce, 4 tomato wedges for each serving

If desired, heat oil on medium-high heat in a small skillet; when oil is hot, lightly fry the tortillas. If not frying, just use tortillas right from the package. If rolling the tortillas, they must be lightly fried.

For flat enchiladas: Preheat the oven to 350˚F about 15 minutes before serving. For each, place a spoonful of green chile sauce on the plate, then top with a tortilla, followed by a spoonful of sauce spread to edges of the tortilla. Then sprinkle cheese and onion, add another tortilla, and repeat. Heat in a preheated moderate 350˚F oven until the cheese melts. To serve, top each enchilada with a dollop of sour cream and a generous sprinkle of caribe chile flakes. Encircle each enchilada with romaine lettuce first, then red leaf, and place tomato wedges facing the same direction equally spaced around the enchilada.

Variation: For rolled enchiladas, dip the lightly fried tortilla into the sauce and place a strip of each grated cheese and chopped onion down the center. Roll and top with more sauce and cheese. To serve a crowd, place the rolled enchiladas in a large, shallow baking dish, but do not cover with sauce. Just before serving, heat in a moderate 350˚F oven. Warm the sauce separately and add just as you are ready to serve. Do not overcook, or the enchiladas will be very mushy. Top with additional cheese and reheat until it melts. Add lettuce around the edges before serving.

New Mexico green chile sauce

This basic yet versatile sauce can be used to create enchiladas or, without the chicken, used to pour over chimichangas or burritos. Seafood can be substituted for the chicken if desired.

Yield: 2 cups

1 tablespoon butter or lard
2/3 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons flour
1½ cups chicken broth
1 cup (or more) chopped green chiles
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
¾ teaspoon salt
Dash of ground comino (cumin)
1 cup poached chicken, torn into bite-sized pieces

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion until soft. Stir in the flour.

Add the broth. Then add chiles, garlic, salt, and comino. Simmer for 20 minutes; add chicken, then use for making enchiladas.

An internationally recognized authority on the regional cooking of the American Southwest, Jane Butel has published 18 cookbooks, including several bestsellers. She operates a full-participation weekend and week-long vacation cooking school; an online school; a mail-order spice, cookbook, and Southwestern product business; and conducts culinary tours and team-building classes. Through her writing, teaching, and television projects, Butel seasons the country’s melting pot with the Southwest’s rich culinary, cultural, and historical heritage. Learn more at janebutel.com.