Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | March 10, 2019

Adventures in Mexican Cooking

mexican food illustrationby Ernest Barteldes 


Our Staten Island neighborhood, unlike other parts of the borough, is quite diverse –taking a short stroll around the area one can encounter a variety of ethnicities, going from Polish, Mexican, African, Jamaican and many more in addition to locals from various backgrounds.  

One group that stands out are Mexicans – just down the block from us there is one of Taqueria El Gallo Azteca, one the best taco places I have ever known (and yes, I’ve been to Mexico), and just across the street there are two flower shops and a grocery store that cater to the Mexican population in the area and also others who enjoy their foods, and further up the same street – Victory Boulevard –  there are even more bakeries, restaurants and other stores.   

Every Saturday outside the St. George Greenmarket a lady sells freshly made tamales – a steamed delicacy made with corn flour and stuffing that varies accordingly to the cook’s desires. In her case, she always has her tamales filled with chicken and mole (chocolate), chicken with verde (green) sauce or rajas, which is cheese and poblano pepper – the spiciest of the three and my personal favorite. 

I am a big fan of Mexican food. Their culinary reminds me a bit of Mediterranean cooking, since dishes are colorful and filled with spices without stealing from the main flavor if the dish. I used to watch a cooking show on Univision called Delicioso (which as far as I know no longer airs) that had some great recipes (including this great app) that had some great recipes that I gladly saved over the years and which I use all the time for lunch, breakfast and dinner.  

Among the favorites are enchiladas – stuffed corn tortillas baked with whichever sauce you like. One variation is what is called “Swiss” enchiladas, which are stuffed with chicken and then covered with green sauce and shredded Swiss cheese (thus the name). They are super easy to make and the results are incredible.  

Swiss Enchiladas (Enchiladas Suizas)



Source: Univision Cocina (my translation) 

1 lb. Boneless skinless chicken breasts 

3 garlic cloves 

3 cups water 

1 teaspoon adobo seasoning 

¾ lb. Tomatillos (green tomatoes) 

1 yellow onion, sliced 

2 jalapenos seeded and sliced 

¼ cup cilantro 

½ cup sour cream 

tablespoons  + ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided 

8 corn tortillas 

1 cup shredded swiss (or mozzarella) cheese 


In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken, cilantro, two garlic cloves, adobo and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook for approximately 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and shred it, reserving the broth.  

In a blender, combine the tomatillos, jalapenos, cilantro, 1 garlic clove and ¼ cup reserved broth. Blend well and run through a sieve, pouring the liquid into a small saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add sour cream and 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese.  

Wrap tortillas in moist paper towels and microwave for 30 seconds (if using conventional oven, wrap in aluminum foil and heat for approximately 5 minutes.  

Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Fill the tortillas with a little of the green salsa, fill with 2 tablespoons shredded chicken and roll them up, placing them side by side in baking dish. Cover tortillas with remaining green salsa and top with shredded cheese and parmesan. Bake for about 30 minutes until heated through. Serve with white rice and beans.  

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