Chicken Enchilada Verde Casserole
Alright folks, if you haven't figured it out yet, I hail from the great state of Texas and I'm proud of it. Shoot, ask any Texan to talk about what they like about Texas, and you better be prepared to have at least an hour long conversation about it. It really is strange sometimes to realize that you belong to a group of people that have such an intense state pride that they talk seriously about seceding and forming their own Republic. I remember getting to graduate school in Virginia, and meeting the group of graduate assistants I would be working with who came from all over the US (shoutout to JMU!), man, I love those guys. But after we had known each other a few months, they told me how disappointed they were that I wasn't "Texas enough". They were picturing big hair, and cowboy boots, and a long, slow, southern drawl. Sadly, I just didn't quite live up to their expectations, and they were even more disappointed to learn that Texas does in fact have electricity, running water, and paved roads, and deeply saddened that tumbleweeds don't freely roam the streets. I do, however, truly come from a small town in the Texas Hill Country, who's major claim to fame is that they are the "Cowboy Capital of the World"--complete with hitching posts for horses that do trot up and down the street, honky-tonks and dude ranches galore, so if you ever do want to get your "true Texas experience" let me take you up there for the day, and I think you'll get your fill!
A few things that WILL give my Texas roots away are my penchant for the word "ya'll", my overuse of the phrase "fixin' to", referring to all sodas as "cokes", and my deep abiding love affair with any and all Mexican food. And yes, because we're Texas, we even have our own special breed of Mexican food, we like to affectionately dub "Tex-Mex". I'm not entirely sure what qualifies as fitting the Tex-Mex bill, but I can say we eat a lot of SALSA, cilantro, tortillas, chips, and margaritas 'round here. Surprisingly, this little recipe I'm about to share with you is only the first mexican food meal that I have on the blog...so strange, but probably so because we have so many good restaurants close by that have healthy-ish options that I just don't do a lot of my own cooking at home when it comes to wanting/needing this genre of food.
This recipe is inspired by Enchiladas Verdes, a popular menu item here that is similar to your typical enchilada plate, except that it is sans any type of red sauce. Instead, it usually uses a lot of chicken mixed with a creamy (dairy-filled) filling, topped with more white cheese, and salsa verde, a green hot sauce that is typically made from tomatillos. I LOVE ENCHILADAS VERDES. I LOVE CHEESE. I LOVE CREAM. But sadly, cheese and cream don't love me back, so I really have to be selective when deciding to splurge on an item like this. Hence the reason this recipe was born, for those of you who want that creamy satisfaction minus all the indigestion, this is the perfect solution. It's a little bit spicy, has just the right amount of creaminess, and really nails that fresh taste that is synonymous with Tex-Mex as it uses a lot of fresh veg and cilantro.
I don't have many pointers on this one to share simply because it is SO EASY. Some things you will want to consider though...#1) You will need to pre-cook and pre-shred the chicken you will be using. You can accomplish this a few ways. I prefer to use my Instant Pot to cook a whole chicken in about 30 minutes that literally falls off the bone when finished (and bonus you get some tasty broth after you're done!). If you have never heard of this angel creation, you can find one here--it's basically a pressure cooker that has up to 7 or 8 different functions (including a slow cooker) depending on the model you get. I can cook frozen meat in less than 20 minutes, which is SUCH a huge time saver when you don't have much time in the evenings. I'm working on a FREE E-book that will compile some of my favorite ways to use the Instant Pot, that will be available to you guys soon, so be on the lookout! You can also buy a rotisserie chicken and shred that up for an even easier meal, or cook chicken breasts or thighs any way you choose and then dice or shred that up after you're done. The possibilities are endless, so go crazy! #2) The mayo dilemma. I've mentioned numerous times that I just don't feel the need to come up with my own mayo recipe as Mel from Well-Fed has already nailed it, in my opinion. Many people feel intimidated by making their own mayo, but it is so incredibly easy. I highly suggest not skimping on this step. Your other options would be to find a paleo-friendly mayo that is pre-made like this one from Primal Kitchen, or trying to find the cleanest mayo you can at the store (one that doesn't use soybean oil and added sugar), but as always, do the best you can with what's available to you. And lastly #3) I topped our finished product with some queso fresco, a specific type of mexican cheese that is used for crumbling. To make this totally 100% squeaky clean paleo, you'll want to omit that. We do cheese in moderation, so it's a good garnish for us.
And without further ado, here is the recipe! Comment below, like, and share on social media if you make this one and love it! Also, I'm interested to know if anyone else has heard of any crazy pre-conceived notions about Texas/Texans they either found to be true, or found to be totally and completely false...share away in the comments!
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
1/4 to 1/2 cup red onion, chopped (to personal preference)
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup salsa verde
1/2 cup paleo mayo (recipe here)
Optional Garnishes: cilantro, lime wedges, red onion, and queso fresco (omit to stay 100% paleo)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Lightly grease an 8x8 baking pan.
- In a large bowl, combine chicken, onion, tomato, cilantro, green onions, and garlic.
- In a small bowl, separately combine salsa and mayo until mixed well.
- Pour salsa mixture over chicken mixture and mix well to incorporate.
- Pour mixture into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until heated through and lightly browned.
- Remove from oven and let slightly cool before serving. Top with optional garnishes of choice. ENJOY