A Fiesta in Mi Jardin

I've been gone from this blog for almost a whole month, and for a person who is supposed to love cooking, exchanging a cook's mandil (apron) for a gardener's mandil, a dinner fork for a pitch fork, and a spoon for a shovel, it has been a refreshing change. To dig in la tierra, to plant flowers and vegetables like tomatoes and chile plants, is not only good for the body, but I think I finally succeeded in clearing off some wintery cobwebs from my mind. I'm flipping some sad springtime memories, hoping to create some pleasant ones instead. Now that the garden is ablaze we are going to have a fiesta for Beatríz and Marina, a pair of beautiful young women, sisters, who will be getting married to Mateo and David. All sets of parents are our dear friends, so I don't think they won't mind it a bit if we borrow their children for a little while to partake of their happiness.
I decide to pick the tomatillos myself. They are for the green enchiladas I am making for the fiesta. The tomatillos must be plump and firm, smooth and shiny, a little sticky to the touch. Their husks, delicately veined, are almost as translucent as those of the wings of a dragon fly lightly skimming the water. The enchiladas will be stuffed with a savory tomato-y garlic-y chicken/potato filling that blends perfectly with the green light tanginess of the enchilada sauce. What better way to celebrate spring and summer and new beginnings than with an enchilada dish that tastes as beautiful as it looks? As much as I love spicy red enchiladas, I think I prefer eating them during the fall and winter months, when cool weather calls for big, bold flavor.
My husband and I start preparing for la fiesta. I cook the chicken and enchilada sauce the day before. My husband, the real baker (though not the butcher or the candlestick maker) of us two, whips up not one but two cakes. One is chocolate, his favorite "vegetable" as he calls it, studded all around with almond slivers; the other is a vanilla cake—its insides stuffed to the gills with fresh strawberries he bought from a neighboring field. He tops it with a little plastic wedding cake ornament and some tiny pink satin ribbon roses. Leave it to my viejo to make a homey cake, perhaps a little corny but very heartfelt (and not to mention out of this world delicious). When our friends sit down a la mesa, there is a huge green salad, beer marinated barbeque chicken, tender carne asada, sopa de fideo con tomates (a "dry" pasta soup made with chicken broth and tomatoes), corn tortillas, fresh from the tortilla factory, a blazing hot red chile salsa. Gloria brings a large bowl of pico de gallo. Lina shares some creamy beans made Puerto Rican style made with secret spices and chicken broth.

Celebrating en lo fresco with my husband and friends who are also family, surrounded by my garden of flowers, the sounds of our favorite mariachi music, my mother's manteles (tablecloths) and candlesticks, I feel the past and present converging in a brightly colored kaleidoscope of emotion. In my garden, there is mingling of joy and una dulce tristeza (a sweet melancholy)—as exquisite as the tangy coolness of some hot green tomatillo enchiladas on a brilliant spring afternoon.

As evening descends on the fiesta, we all look on as Beatríz and Mateo and Marina and David cut my husband's cake.

Green Tomatillo Enchiladas with Chicken/Potato Filling
Traditionally, enchiladas are not heated up in the oven. However, if you are cooking for a crowd and need to heat them up in the oven for a little while (pre-heated to 350º), make sure to add a bit of enchilada sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish so the enchiladas won't stick to the bottom. I don't know about you, but I like to fry my corn tortillas before dipping them in the enchilada sauce. They maintain their shape better and I love the toasty flavor. If you are concerned about fat, do yourself a favor and don't smother these beautiful enchiladas under a fat-laden blanket of cheese. Let the wonderful flavor of the tomatillo shine through. A little queso fresco or cotija will do just fine. Also, save any left-over chicken broth, chicken filling or enchilada sauce to make delicious soups or tacos.

Ingredients for Chicken/Potato Filling:
1 whole chicken, rinsed, with giblets, neck, etc. removed

2 large potatoes, scrubbed


½ white onion

1 carrot, peeled and cut up

2 sprigs cilantro or parsley

1 large red juicy tomato, puréed in the blender; OR, one 8 oz. can of tomato sauce (If your tomato isn't super sweet and juicy, this time I'd go for canned tomato sauce.)

1 Knorr's® chicken flavored bouillon cube (optional)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf

pinch oregano or to taste

Ingredients for Green Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce:

2 lbs. of tomatillos, husks removed

1 to 3 serrano chiles, stems removed

¼ to ½ white onion

2 cloves garlic
chicken broth

½ to 1 cup fresh cilantro to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
pinch of powdered cumin
seasoning salt to taste

crema mexicana, or sour cream(optional)
12 (one dozen corn tortillas)

To Cook Chicken/Potato Enchilada Filling:
Put the chicken in a large pot and fill with water to cover. Bring it to a boil. When the water becomes scummy, remove the chicken from the pot and discard the water (who likes scummy broth anyway? I don't.) Rinse the pot and put the chicken right back in. Add potatoes, pureed tomato or tomato sauce, bouillon cube, cilantro, onion, garlic, bay leaf, cilantro, oregano, and pepper. Add water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Remove the vegetables from the broth and discard. Skim some of the fat off the chicken broth. If you are preparing the enchiladas a day in advance, let the chicken and the broth cool down before putting them in the refrigerator for the night. The next morning, you can skim off the fat from the chicken broth if you wish.
To Make the Green Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce:
Put the tomatillos and one inch of chicken broth in a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the tomatillos are soft and fully cooked. (In the meantime, shred the cooked chicken, peel and chop the potatoes into small bite-sized pieces. Cover and keep warm.) Put the cooked tomatillos in a blender with ¼ white onion, garlic, serrano chile(s). Blend until smooth. Now add the cilantro and blend for a few seconds more.
Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a saucepan. Add the tomatillo mixture, a pinch of cumin and seasoning salt to taste. Simmer for about 10 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of chicken broth. If it is too thin, reduce by simmering uncovered for a little while.
Take a corn tortilla and heat on a hot heavily oiled skillet or griddle. Flip it once or twice until the tortilla is soft and flexible, about 10 seconds (don't worry if the tortilla is a little toasty). Using a spatula, lift the corn tortilla and dip it into the warm enchilada sauce for a few seconds. Then transfer the tortilla to a plate or other flat surface. Add a large spoonful of chicken/potato filling to one end of the tortilla. Using your fire-proof macha fingers, tightly roll up the tortilla and place seam side down on a platter or a casserole dish. Pour some hot enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and top with thinly sliced green onion, sliced black olives and or your favorite real cheese or crema mexicana (or sour cream). Serve immediately.


Anonymous said...

Yum - the green tomatillo enchiladas sound delicious and the chicken potato filling is excellent!

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Hola 5 Star Foodie,
Thank you, and see you on foodbuzz!

Emma said...

¡Hola, mi amiga! Otra vez he leido tu blog sin haber comido...¿cuando voy a aprender? Bueno, espero sigan bien tu viejo y tu. Un beso!

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Hola Chiquita!
Sabes que? Como te he extranado, pero que gusto me da que ahora ya has comenzado con un nuevo blog y un negocio--muchacha pero retelista!


Saludos amiga, a ti y a tu viejo tambien!

Chef E said...

Yikes! I need this, and I need it right now! I am traveling to Texas next week, and will be cooking stuff like this with friends and family...hubby never really has been a fan, and now I am dieing for some, so thanks for your gorgeous photos, and welcome back!

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Hi Chef E,
Hope you'll like this recipe. I like to use a broth that has tomato and carrots in it because it sweetens the tomatillos which can be a bit sour. That' why I like use a bit of seasoning salt, too. I really think it is better to cook it a day in advance so the flavors can blend and mellow up a bit.
Happy cooking!

Ashley said...

Delicious! What lucky girls to have this fiesta in their honor.

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Gracias Ashley!
I truly believe that there is nothing better in life than eating good with good friends. Life is a beautiful thing.

Ashley said...

I found your blog so inspiring and just had to post about it!
I hope you don't mind that I used your images. If it bothers you please let me know and I will remove them.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

YUMMM! I never knew that enchiladas are not traditionally made in the oven. Every recipe I've ever seen puts them there. Guess I'm a gringo, huh? ;)

Have you ever made Rellenos en Nogada? I had that at a restaurant once, and it was divine. :)

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...


My mother never made them, so I've never had the chance to learn them, but I have a friend who does. Yes, they are divine. One of these days I'm going to convince her to give me the recipe. Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...


"Chris is Starving!"

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Hola Chris,
Well, I guess it's time to start cooking. Thanks for visiting!

Lisa Renata said...

Hi! This is the first time visiting your blog and Me Encanta! I will definitely be coming back often. Especially for your recetas. Ricas, ricas, ricas!

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Bienvenida Lisa Renata!
I'm happy you like my blog. I sure love yours.

Pearmama said...

"Fireproof macha fingers"...holler!

penelope said...

i made these the other night and they were GREAT! thanks so much for the recipe. i had planned on freezing half of them but they were devoured!

Clementina said...

Hola, Penelope!
I'm so glad you liked the recipe. It is one of my all time favorites. I just love anything that has tomatillos in it.
A tip: If the green enchilada sauce is ever too sour for your taste, just add a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar or so. It should never taste sweet, but it will definitely reduce the sourness to a delicious tang.
Happy cooking!

Becky said...

Hi, I know this is an older post, but I love your recipes. I was wondering if you had a recipe for the red chile sauce the goes on enchiladas. I'm making my boyfriend them this weekend for his birthday, but I haven't found any decent recipes... is there a simple substitution I could do to this recipe with red chiles and some ground beef?

Clementina said...

Hi Becky,
Here is a nice recipe for red enchilada sauce:
8 dried New Mexico chiles (hot) and/or California chiles (mild), stemmed and seeded
pinch of dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
ground cumin to taste
1 or 2 cloves
1 slice of white loaf bread, toasted and torn into pieces
2 garlic cloves
vegetable oil of your choice

To make the red chile sauce: Heat chiles in a skillet over high heat, turning until toasted, about one minute on each side. Put the chiles in a blender with the oregano, bread, garlic, clove and 1 1/2 cups boiling water (but I like to use chicken broth for more flavor). Let them sit for a some minutes and fire up the blender until the chile mixture is smooth. Pour the sauce through a strainer into a large bowl.

Now, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons or less of vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Pour in chile sauce and cook and stir until the chile sauce is thickened. Only takes some minutes. Adjust seasonings and use for your enchilada sauce.

Make sure to open the windows, because you are going to choke and cough like crazy (and loving every minute of it)!

Yes, you could use ground beef if your want, but I would throw in some small chunks of potato--delicioso!

Clementina said...

Hola, Becky!
I forgot to mention, how about going to my latest post and tell me who you would have a little cup of Mexican hot chocolate with? There are some great prizes!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the recipe it turned out amazing and it made his birthday! Thanks again for all the help!:) ill be sure to share my hot chocolate story on your new post!