March 13, 2012

Bacon, Spinach, & Cheese Enchiladas with Verde Cream Sauce

I had been craving restaurant-style Spinach-Cheese Enchiladas for a few weeks. I found a few potential recipes, but always came up short on ingredients when I went to prepare them for dinner. I decided to scrap a traditional recipe and just do my own thing. When I was foraging for items to go into the enchiladas, I noticed that we had 4 uncooked strips of bacon that needed to be used. Since almost everything is better with bacon, I decided to work that into the mix. I'm glad I did because my enchiladas turned out to be phenomenal...exactly what I was looking for with the extra little bacon bonus!

Bacon, Spinach, & Cheese Enchiladas with Verde Cream Sauce

4 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped (grease reserved)
2 onions, sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 can(s) of green chiles, chopped
1 large container of fresh baby spinach
1 10 oz. bag of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
a few splashes of lime juice, to taste
4 cups of pepper jack cheese, divided and shredded (2 cups for the assembly, 2 cups for the topping)
1 cup of Monterrey jack cheese, shredded (for the sauce)
2 cup of milk
2-3 Tablespoons AP flour
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons of cumin
1 small can (or jar) of salsa verde
2 cups chopped, fresh cilantro, divided
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray


For filling:
Cook bacon in a non-stick skillet until crispy. Remove the bacon to a cutting board, while reserving half of the bacon grease in the pan (discard the rest of the grease or save in the fridge for another application). Chop the bacon and set aside. Heat the remaining grease over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute or until fragrant. Add fresh spinach and cook until completely wilted. Add prepared frozen spinach and saute until well combined and any additional moisture is cooked off. Season with salt and pepper and a few splashes of lime juice to taste. Add in chopped bacon and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

For Sauce:
Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle AP flour over butter and combine with a whisk until flour/butter mixture looks like coarse meal. Cook for 3-5 minutes to get all the raw flour taste cooked out (your making a basic roux here). Add in oregano and cumin. Mix with whisk and cook until spices are fragrant; an additional minute or so. Add in green chiles and salsa verde, stir to combine. Add in milk while continually whisking. Bring to a boil, while whisking, then reduce heat. mixture should start to thicken into a sauce consistency. Remove from heat and mix in 1 cup of Monterrey jack cheese. Whisk until melted and combined. Season with salt and pepper and a few splashes of lime juice to taste. Add in fresh, chopped cilantro stir to combine. Cover and set aside.

For Assembly:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside. Spread some of the prepared sauce on the bottom of the pan. Use a tablespoon or two of the spinach/bacon filling and a big pinch of the shredded pepper jack cheese and place in the middle of a corn tortilla. Roll tortilla around cheese and filling and place seam side down in prepared casserole dish. (You will use 2 cups of the pepper jack total in this application.) Repeat as needed, until pan is filled. Add any leftover filling and cheese around the edges of the rolled enchiladas (or make an additional pan to freeze). Top rolled enchiladas with remaining sauce. Top with remaining 2 cups of pepper jack cheese, sprinkled on top. Bake for 30 minutes, until top is browned and bubbly. Remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Cut and serve.

This was labor-intensive, but sooooo worth it! These. were. delicious. I just noticed that I used 5 cups of cheese in this recipe! Okay, I will begrudgingly admit, 5 cups of cheese IS excessive. Yeah, our enchiladas were pretty decadent. In my defense, this made a ton of enchiladas and we had them for dinner twice and lunches throughout the week. Also, spinach is healthy. Also, there was a small amount of bacon relative to the quantity of enchiladas. The bacon was just for flavoring, and not a main element. It was only a smattering of bacon. For some reason, that logic helps me justify the amount of cheese...please don't judge me. :)

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