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Chicken Enchiladas

David Burtka's Roast Chicken / Side Salad + Chicken Enchiladas + Chicken Tot Pie
David Burtka's Roast Chicken / Side Salad + Chicken Enchiladas + Chicken Tot PieNathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
50 mins
Prep Time:
30 mins

Chef notes

This dish is an homage to New Mexico, the land of hot green chiles. I make sure to have a tray of these in the freezer at all times so I can just pop them into the oven, garnish with cilantro and pickled onions and have dinner on the table fast.


  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for frying
  • pounds leftover roasted chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed well and finely diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 4-ounce cans mild or hot diced Hatch chiles, undrained
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 dried bay leaf, halved crosswise
  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • cups shredded Mexican cheese blend (6 ounces)
  • Mexican crema, for drizzling
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Pickled red onions, homemade or store-bought, for garnish



In a small dry skillet, toast the cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer to a plate to cool completely, then grind in a spice grinder until fine.


In a large Dutch oven, heat the 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium-high heat until the oil starts to shimmer. Add the onion, a pinch of salt, and a splash of water to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened and lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic, and cook until the garlic has softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the toasted cumin and coriander, tomatillos, chiles, stock and bay leaf.


Nestle the chicken into the liquid until mostly submerged. Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, covered with the lid ajar, until the chicken is cooked through and very tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate or bowl and let cool.


Remove and discard the bay leaf halves and carefully blend the sauce directly in the pot with an immersion blender until completely smooth. (Alternatively, carefully transfer the sauce to a regular blender and blend until smooth.) Simmer the sauce over medium heat, uncovered, until it has reduced by one-quarter of its volume and thickened to a consistency similar to marinara sauce, about 20 minutes (there should be about 3 cups sauce left).


In a medium bowl, shred the chicken with two forks. Add 1⁄2 cup of the sauce and toss to coat. Taste and season with salt.


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom of an 11- by 7-inch baking dish.


Fill a large cast-iron skillet with canola oil to a depth of 1/2 inch and heat the oil over medium heat until it just starts to shimmer. Spoon 1 heaping cup of the sauce onto a rimmed medium plate. Working with one tortilla at a time, use a pair of tongs to quickly dip the tortilla into the hot oil just until it becomes malleable.


Drag both sides of the tortilla through the sauce on the plate, then place the tortilla on a clean work surface and let cool slightly. Spoon one-eighth of the chicken mixture down the center of the tortilla and sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons of the cheese.


Fold the tortilla over the chicken and cheese and roll it up so the filling stays snugly within the tortilla. Place the filled tortilla seam-side down in the baking dish and repeat with the remaining tortillas, chicken, filling and cheese.


Spoon the remaining sauce evenly over the enchiladas and sprinkle with any remaining cheese. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle with the crema and garnish with the cilantro leaves and pickled red onions (about 1/4 cup, but adjust to your liking).