Baked Chicken Enchiladas Cafe Tacuba-Style

Chicken enchiladas smothered in a creamy poblano sauce and topped with melted cheese. It’s a recreation by Rick Bayless of enchiladas served at Cafe Tacuba in Mexico City.

I never make recipes exactly as written.  I can’t. Not even when I’m re-making my own recipes. It’s an unwritten rule. It’s inevitable that I’ll change some a lot of things. This one was different because I didn’t change one single thing.

For the first time in I don’t know how long I followed the recipe exactly as written. To a tee. Of course I had ideas. Ideas I resisted because I decided ahead of time to trust the recipe.

The results were stunning. A rival for my original chicken enchilada recipe that everyone loves and asks for.

The sauce is a beautiful pastel green, rich, creamy and mildly spiced with poblano chile peppers, a little fresh spinach, chicken broth and milk. I could drink it. But I didn’t.

A spoon worked better.

The filling is simple and pure. Shredded chicken flavored with the sauce is rolled up in corn tortillas then lined up like little soldiers in a baking pan.

There’s a generous amount of sauce that thickens up as it bakes, a gooey cheese topping and fresh cilantro for garnish.

Rarely do I describe a savory dish this way but there’s a first time for everything.


Baked Chicken Enchiladas Cafe Tacuba-Style

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Baked Chicken Enchiladas Cafe Tacuba-Style

Chicken enchiladas smothered in a creamy poblano sauce and topped with melted cheese.


2 fresh poblano chiles
1 lightly packed cup roug chopped spinach leaves
2 cups whole milk
2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons butter (or vegetable oil)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
coarse salt
3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (a rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled/baked chicken)
12 corn tortillas
A little vegetable oil for brushing or spraying
About 1 cup Mexican melting cheese (Chihuahua, quesadilla, asadero) or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar
fresh chopped cilantro for garnish


  1. Make the sauce. Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or on a baking sheet 4 inches below a broiler. Turn them to blacken and blister them on all sides. It will take about 5 minutes over a gas flame and 10 using the broiler. Place the hot peppers in a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel or in a small paper bag with the top closed.
  2. After about 10 minutes rub off the blackened skin and pull out the stem and seeds. Rinse under water to clean off the rogue seeds. Rough chop and add to a blender jar or to the bowl of a food processor with the spinach.
  3. Add the milk and broth to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat to warm.
  4. Add the butter to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute then whisk in the flour and continue whisking for a minute. Turn the heat up to medium-high and pour in the warm broth mixture whisking constantly until the sauce comes up to a boil. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low and maintain a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Pour half the hot sauce into the blender or food processor with the chiles and spinach. Hold the lid down with a kitchen towel to prevent steam from blowing the lid off and blend or pulse until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sauce. Taste and season with 1 - 2 teaspoons salt.
  6. Finish the enchiladas. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lay out half of the tortillas on a large baking sheet and lightly brush or spray both sides of the tortillas with oil. Repeat with the remaining tortillas layering them over top. Bake about 3 minutes or until warm and softened.
  7. Grease a 9x13 inch baking sheet and cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce. Mix 1 cup of the sauce into the chicken.
  8. Stack the tortillas and cover with a towel to keep warm. Working quickly so that the tortillas stay hot and pliable, roll about a 1/4 cup of the chicken up in each tortilla placing them in a line in the baking dish.
  9. Pour the remaining sauce over them and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake 25 - 30 minutes until hot and bubbly all over with lightly golden cheese.
  10. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.


Adapted from Rick Bayless inspired by Kim@Stirring the Pot

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  1. says

    You always have awesome enchilada recipes. I would love to have dinner parties with you! Enchiladas=yummy! Reeni’s enchiladas=crazy mind-blowing tasty-looking pieces of flavor heaven!

  2. says

    Excellent! They look and sound delicious! I will be passing this recipe on to my older son as he loves to make enchiladas! Thanks!

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