{recipe} Green Enchiladas in the Frozen North

I have lived in upstate New York since 1986 and my steadfast complaint since that time has not been about the weather, although the weather does suck, but about the lack of decent tortillas.  While politicians bray about the influx of illegal Mexican immigrants into the country, I have been praying that they would come faster, because we in upstate New York desperately need better food.  For example, had I not taken them back to California on occasion, my children would think that a burrito was indistinguishable from a breakfast wrap.  It has been a nightmare.

Imagine my surprise and delight at walking into our local grocery chain store, Price Chopper, and finding that they have started to carry passable corn tortillas.  First and foremost, you can tell something is a passable corn tortilla when it actually has Spanish on the label.  Second, the tortillas should not fall apart when you try to roll them because the purpose of a tortilla is to wrap it around food you want to eat, like eggs or cheese or vegetables or meat.  Third, passable corn tortillas do not come in packs of 10.  They come in packs of 50 or a hundred.  People who eat tortillas eat lots of them, not 10.  Price Chopper does not have packs of 50 tortillas, but they do have packs of 18.    Hence, “passable,” not necessarily “good”.

corn tortillas with Spanish on the label!

They also carry Mexican cheese!  Queso blanco and queso fresco.  Hannaford, take note!  I never thought I would be homesick for Safeway.

Mexican cheese!

My discovery of Price Chopper’s recent enlightenment came on the same day that I bought tomatillo seedlings at the farmers’ market.  Things are definitely looking up in upstate.

In honor of the corn tortillas and the tomatillo seedlings, now growing on a pot on the deck and in one of our community sharecropping gardens, I decided to buy some tomatillos and make green enchiladas. My own tomatillos will be ready in early August, but I didn’t want to wait.   I broke out my favorite out-of-print Mexican cook book, Josefina Velasquez de Leon’s Mexican Cook Book Devoted to American Homes, to look up her recipe for tomatillo sauce.  I changed it a little: she used poblano peppers, I had jalapenos; she used cream, I had one percent milk; she cleaned all of the seeds out of the peppers, I used fewer but left the seeds in one of them; I added cilantro, she didn’t use it.  I am sure her sauce is better.  She also filled her green enchiladas with larded pork instead of cheese.  I part ways with Josefina when it comes to larded pork.

Tomatillos, with husks

Green Cheese Enchilidas
Makes 18 corn tortillas

about half a pound of tomatillos
4- 8 jalapeno or poblano peppers
1 cup cream or milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
handful of cilantro
salt to taste


1 pound queso blanco or mozzarella cut into 18 sticks about 1/3 inch wide and 3 inches long.


Crumbled queso fresco or maybe feta cheese if you are not a purist
Cilantro, chopped
Radishes, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and wash to remove the stickiness.  Bring a pot of water to boil, add tomatillos and cook about 8 minutes or until a little tender.

Broil the chile peppers for five minutes on a side, or roast them in a cast iron pan at high heat or, better yet, over an open flame, until  dark and blistered all over.  Place them in a plastic bag for 10 minutes while still hot.  Then remove the skins and stems and take the seeds out all but one of them.  Be careful, the seeds are really hot and the sting lingers on your fingers. Contact lens wearers, use gloves.

In a blender, mix roasted chile peppers, cilantro and tomatillos for about a minute at high speed. Or grind them by hand in your metate if you have one.  I don’t.

Pour sauce into a pot, mix in the cream and egg and heat gently.  Add salt to taste.

Put about a cup of the sauce in a baking pan.  Dip each tortilla separately in the green sauce.  Roll the tortilla around a stick of queso blanco and place in the pan.  Repeat until you use all of your tortillas.  Add a little more sauce to the top of the filled pan.

Bake for 20- 25 minutes.  Sprinkle on crumbled queso fresco, chopped radishes and chopped cilantro. Eat hot.

pan of green cheese enchiladas

18 Comments Add yours

  1. jillian says:

    Thank you! If these are the ones you brought to the swap I can attest to their deliciousness. If not, they still look good. Good tip about dipping the tortilla in the sauce- I can apply that to similar dishes.

    1. Dianna says:

      thanks, They are one and the same. I actually wrote this around the same time, but we just got around to posting. Sorry to hear about your daughter’s no corn diet in your post from yesterday, that is tough.

  2. Karen says:

    I really love green enchiladas. I even had them for breakfast on the last day of a trip to Mexico. I agree about Hannafords…wish they would carry Mexican cheese and more ethnic foods in general. They are only grocery store in our area so I am at their mercy.

    1. Dianna says:

      Every time I go to Hannaford, I fill out a little comment card at the customer service asking them for better tortillas. Maybe someday…. We could start a movement among Hannaford customers.

      1. Christina says:

        I totally agree. They are SOOO AMAZING at carrying allergy-free/ GF foods, that I ALWAYS shop with them over Price Chopper. But their “ethnic” food aisle needs serious help. Badly. Like Now.

        1. Dianna says:

          what do you expect from a grocery chain that started out in Maine? White people food.

        2. Dianna says:

          Their ethnic food is appalling. But they started out in Maine, so what do you expect?

          1. Angela Watts says:

            In all honesty the Walmarts up here have plenty of ethnic foods with very little English in it. Carried as part of their world whatever line, including cow tongues and other ethnic meats I would have never thought they’d sell enough of to carry. Maybe not top of the line stuff, but more than they did 10 years ago.

            I would suggest talking directly to the store manager of your Hannafords and/or posting on their Facebook page. While it may not be prudent for them to carry an item regularly they may be able to special order items you want/need.

            1. Dianna says:

              good idea. I think I may have to check out Walmart, much as that goes against all my instincts. Thanks.

  3. Liz says:

    I also received these at the swap and am very excited to try at home now… I actually looked for an enchilada recipe w/egg based on your ingredients list to no avail, so thanks!! I share your tortilla woes and have gone so far as to import ingredients to attempt to replicate the tortillera I frequented when I lived in Mexico, but haven’t really mastered it. We bought in quantities of 100 twice a week for a household of 6. I hear Cantina makes their own and will send you home with some if you beg but I haven’t had much luck!

    1. Dianna says:

      I can’t quite get it right either, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. I think lard may be needed to recapture the richness of the Mexican dishes, and I just won’t do that. But I am glad you liked the approximation at the swap. The cook book I mentioned is available on Amazon sometimes, although to my surprise they want lots of money for it. We bought it at a used book store in Chicago 30 years ago. I will try more recipes for posting purposes, see what works.

  4. thanks for mentioned the tortillas. I went straight to Price Chopper and hunted for them. I have to say..they were a HIT at my house. I had bought a different brand of corn tortillas and they were horrible and broke and tore and my kids would cry trying to eat their burritos. But, I have to say that these stood up to the test. No breaking or crumbling. I am loving these. And they were like $1.89 or something…love it. Thanks!!

    1. Dianna says:

      I am glad you found them. I am still trying to find out what day they are delivered so that I can beat the Mexican track workers here in Saratoga to them. They are often sold out because they are the only edible corn tortilla in town.

      1. Amy says:

        Other supermarkets that have good tortillas — in big packs — are Save-A-Lot and Aldi’s. They have the queso blanco, too, and all these ingredients are way cheaper than PChopper.

        1. Dianna says:

          Thanks, I don’t know of any Save-a-Lots but there is an Aldi’s locally, I’ll try it. I normally buy my tortillas in New York but perhaps Albany is far enough south to look for other brands.

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