» Serves 4 to 6

» 1 lb. (about 3) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
» 2 cloves garlic, slightly crushed
» 2 onions, halved
» 2 bay leaves
» 1 tsp dried oregano
» 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
2 cups tomatillo sauce (purchased or see instructions below)
» 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
» Black pepper
» 12 fresh corn tortillas
Cilantro sprigs for garnish
» 1/3 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
» 1 cup Mexican crema, homemade (page 102) or store-bought
» 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded

COMBINE CHICKEN BREASTS, garlic, 1 onion, bay leaves, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes. To check for doneness, slit the chicken in half to make sure the interior is no longer pink; the juices should run clear.

Allow the chicken to cool in the broth (this will keep it moist). When it is cool enough to handle, shred the chicken by hand by pulling apart the fibers of the chicken with your fingers.

Slice the remaining onion. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until it becomes limp and translucent.
Toss the chicken with the onion and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

To build the enchiladas, you will need to create an assembly line made up of two saute pans and the bowl containing the shredded chicken and onion. You will also need to have an empty plate and the serving platter on hand.

First, heat the remaining 1/3 cup oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Next, pour the tomatillo sauce into the other sauté pan and place over medium heat.

Working one tortilla at a time, dip a tortilla in the oil and allow it to fry for 15 seconds on each side. Transfer the lightly fried tortilla to the saucepan holding the tomatillo sauce and coat well with the sauce. Transfer to the empty plate, place about 1/4 cup of the shredded chicken in the center, and roll. Place the enchilada on a serving platter seam side down. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Once you have finished assembling the enchiladas, pour any remaining tomatillo sauce over the enchiladas and top with sprigs of cilantro and crumbled queso fresco. Serve with Mexican crema and shredded lettuce alongside.

Fresh Tomatillo Sauce
This has become my favorite sauce – for now. It’s fresh flavor, vibrant color, and slight heat (which you can control with the amount of jalapeños you add) are the reasons why. And once you discover how easy it is to prepare and how long it keeps in the refrigerator, I don’t doubt it will become a favorite of yours, too. Makes 2 1/2 cups

» 1 pound (about 9) tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, and quarter
» 2 jalapenos, stemmed and halved
» 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro stems and leaves
» 1 clove garlic
» 1/2 onion
» 1/2 teaspoon salt
» 2 tablespoons water

Puree the Ingredients:
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse a few times before blending the ingredients into a puree.

Serve or Store:
Transfer to a serving bowl if using right away, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate if storing.

From “Simply Mexican” by Lourdes Castro.

» The whole enchilada:Tips on how to master the Mexican favorite.

Photo by Lois Raimondo/The Washington Post