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Cafe Tacuba-Style Creamy Chicken Enchiladas


This recipe is adapted from Rick Bayless, as seen on "Stirring the Pot". The sauce is a lovely blend of mild poblano peppers and fresh spinach, with chicken broth and milk. I adapted this recipe by making my own chicken broth, and reserving the chicken for the enchiladas, but you can use a rotisserie chicken if you wish. The sauce can easily be made the day before and then assembled to bake the following day. Delicious!

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  • If making your own chicken and broth:
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • For the sauce:
  • 3 poblano chiles, charred peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped spinach leaves
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth (you can use store-bought)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • juice of 1/2 lime (optional)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • salt
  • For the enchiladas:
  • 6-8 chicken thighs, bone-in or 3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken(you can usea rotisserie chicken)
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • A little vegetable oil for brushing or spraying
  • 1 About 1 cup Mexican melting cheese (Chihuahua, quesadilla, asadero, Monterey Jack, or mild cheddar-- or a combination)
  • cilantro and/or sour cream for garnish


Preparation time 120mins
Cooking time 180mins
Adapted from


Step 1

For the chicken broth:
In a pot, add the chicken, chili powder, cumin, garlic cloves, Bay leaves and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 1-1/2 hours. Remove the chicken, remove skin and shred with a fork; set aside.
Strain the chicken broth and toss away the aromatics.

For the sauce:
Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler. NOTE: I put my peppers in a cast-iron skillet. Turn regularly, until the skins have blistered and blackened on all sides, about 5 minutes for an open flame, about 10 minutes under the broiler. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to steam for at least 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, 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 set aside.

In a blender, add the peppers, spinach and (if using) cilantro to a blender (or food processor).

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 minced 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.

Carefully, pour half the hot sauce into the blender with the chiles and spinach. Cover loosely 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. If desired, add the lime juice for some bright acidity-- which is what I did.

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 (NOTE: I would dip each corn tortilla in the remaining sauce to pre-soften them.)

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.

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