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Enchiladas: The Topic

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#1 Jaymes

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 10:11 AM

In the "Mexico" chilaquiles thread, I was asked by Snowangel to share any tips, recipes, etc., that I might have for enchiladas.

So -

For starters: Although I am no expert, and do not claim to be, I will say this - every recipe I’ve ever seen for enchiladas that comes from a Mexican source combines a few simple ingredients that are either pre-cooked, or otherwise require little additional cooking after assembly. So, the instructions are invariably to just pop into oven for twenty minutes or so to heat through.

Most “U.S.” or TexMex concoctions have gloppy, heavy sauces (often one of the “cream of” soups) and one must cook these for much longer.

Now, I’m not berating these “American-Mexican” type of enchiladas. They have their place. And I have a couple such recipes that call for ground beef, chicken, etc., that my family loves. But anyone searching for “authenticity” would do well to err in the direction of less is more.

I am giving two recipes here. Both are quite simple. But they are wonderful. The first is the traditional rolled enchilada that most of us are familiar with. The second is the type of stacked enchilada typical of Sonora, northern Mexico, and New Mexico. And both of these were given to me by Mexican friends who got them from mothers, and grandmothers, and greatgrandmothers. Convenience foods are used when appropriate (“Just BUY the tomato sauce, for heaven’s sake,” one friend told me that her mother had replied after she complained that she didn’t make enchiladas much because granny’s recipe started off by cooking down fresh tomatoes to make the sauce and that was so much trouble.), but these recipes are authentic, and have been handed down for generations.


Chicken Enchiladas

Stew 1 nice big fat chicken (in grocery stores, I used to send my children to the "chicken case" with orders to look at every single one and get me the biggest and fattest - it was a chore I had done when shopping with MY grandmother years earlier) with seasoned salt, couple cloves garlic, an onion, bay leaf, sprig fresh oregano, in water just to cover. Remove chicken (reserving broth for another use), cool and pick off meat, tearing with your fingers into large bite-sized chunks (large bite-sized chunks - whatever you do, don't take a knife and chop the chicken into small little-bitty pieces).

Simmer 24-oz canned tomato sauce, 3-4 Tbls 100% New Mexico Red Chile Powder (accept no substitutes), cumin and seasoned salt to taste, stirring and simmering till all spices are thoroughly blended and sauce is smooth.

Take about a half-pound or so each of good-quality mild Cheddar and jack cheese and grate and combine. (Of course, if you live in an area where you have access to good Mexican cheeses, and have a favorite for enchiladas, use that.)

In skillet, heat unflavored oil (I just use canola or Wesson or something tasteless) until warm but not smoking.

Dip corn tortillas, one at a time, first into the oil, then the hot red sauce, quickly, just to soften and coat with sauce. (This is very tricky. I had a hard time with it for years until finally a Mexicana friend of mine told me she could never do it either, so she got a pie pan and dipped the tortilla into the hot oil, then laid the tortilla in the pie pan and SMEARED it with the red sauce. She did these one at a time until she had four or five in the pie pan, then made her enchiladas from the tortillas in the pan. MUCH easier!)

In your enchilada baking pan, smear a little red sauce over the bottom, then one of your dipped tortillas. In the middle of tortilla, spread in a straight line about 1 Tbls of the mixed grated cheeses, 1 Tbls sauce on top of the cheese, then finally, several chunks of the chicken. Roll up the enchilada and place in the pan, seam side DOWN. That should mean that the cheese and sauce side is now UP.

Repeat this until all your ingredients are gone. You will be better off if you put your enchiladas in a nice arrangement, snugly side by side, but don't fill up all of the nooks and crannies. If you just shove them in any which way, it won't taste worse, but it doesn't look as pretty and is much more difficult to garnish attractively.

Now, pour the rest of your red sauce crosswise over the center of the enchiladas, like you're laying a red carpet down their middles. Sprinkle cheese in the middle of the “carpet.”

Your ingredients are already cooked, so you don't want to leave the enchiladas in the oven too long or they will dry out. Just long enough to heat through and melt the cheeses. 350 for about 20 minutes.

This makes about 15-18 enchiladas, kinda depending on how big your chicken is.

Remove from oven. Garnish with sour cream, then sprinkle with sliced black olives and chopped green onions.



Sonoran-Style Stacked Green Chile Enchiladas

Prepare your green chile sauce first:
For sauce:
12 medium green chile peppers (of course, fresh are way best, but if you must....), peeled, seeded, deveined and chopped
2 medium tomatoes (or 1 cup canned tomatoes), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1 tsp salt

Roast chiles over gas burners, or on outdoor grill, or under broiler until blistered. Put into plastic baggies and allow steam to permeate. This makes the chiles easy to peel. Remove peel, core, seeds, and visible veins. (Edit: Should have added that if you are using canned green chiles, you don't have to take this step of roasting, peeling, etc.) Chop into half-inch pieces. Place into saucepan and add tomatoes, onion, salt and garlic. Pour in enough water just to cover and simmer ten minutes.

For enchiladas:
1 doz corn tortillas
2 C grated cheese (again, if you have a fave Mex cheese, use it; if not, half good quality mild cheddar and half jack)
3 C green chile sauce

Allow two or three tortillas per person. Fry tortillas quickly in hot fat just to soften, then dip into hot green chile sauce. You are going to assemble these on the individual serving plates. I usually have my plates stacked in a warm oven. One at a time, place a prepared tortilla on warm plate, sprinkle with cheeses, another hot tortilla, more cheese, top with hot tortilla. Pour over as much green chile sauce as you like for desired wetness. Serve immediately. You can top it with a dollop of sour cream if you’d like. That turns it into an Enchilada Suiza, or Swiss Enchilada.

#2 stellabella

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 10:18 AM

Jaymes, :wub:

When I've ordered enchiladas in Mexico they've almost always been "stacked"--and sometimes with a little shredded raw cabbage, which I pick off.

Question: a friend's dad used to love to have enchilada parties--he prided himself on his from-scratch stacked enchiladas, with a tiny quail's egg broken over the top. When I started traveling in Mexico I looked forward to having an egg broken over my enchiladas--BUT have never had it happen once. Who actually does this? Anyone know about this?

#3 Jaymes

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 10:22 AM

Yes - it's fairly typical. In fact, I have a cookbook that says in its instructions for stacked Red Enchiladas: "Continue [stacking] in layer cake fashion until each plate has 2 or 3 tortillas. If tortillas seem dry, spoon added sauce to taste. Fry an egg, sunny side up, per serving and place on top of enchiladas."

I think it's a regional thing. I've seen it often in Northern Mexico states, and anywhere in Mexico, if you requested it, no one would look askance.

#4 Jaymes

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 10:25 AM

When I've ordered enchiladas in Mexico they've almost always been "stacked"--and sometimes with a little shredded raw cabbage, which I pick off.

Oh - at dinner parties, I usually serve a cole slaw lightly-dressed with a light, tangy, vinegar-based dressing alongside my enchiladas. All of this is pretty typically Northern-Mexico stuff.

#5 Ladybug

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 10:26 AM

Jaymes, are enchiladas ever made with flour tortillas?

#6 Jaymes

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 10:33 AM

Jaymes, are enchiladas ever made with flour tortillas?

Yes, they are. Again, I think it's a regional thing. But, when you are looking for enchilada recipes with flour tortillas, remember that when flour tortillas are used, instead of being called enchiladas, they are usually called "burras" or "burros" from which we get our term, "burritos."

I do have a good recipe for Chicken Molé Enchiladas that specifically calls for flour tortillas, and you can substitute flour tortillas for corn in most recipes. But (and I'm not looking at the recipe so may be wrong and I'll check later when I have time) in my experience, you generally don't dip the flour tortillas into the hot oil nor the sauce. Although of course, in practice you can do whatever you like, and just see how it comes out. One thing I noticed right away when learning about Mexican food is that there seems to be NO hard and fast rules.

I'm on my way out, but when I get back, I'll do a little more investigating and get back with further information. :biggrin:

In the meantime, I am ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that I am not the only one on eGullet with good enchilada informacion - so, let's all pitch in!

EDIT: Just checked my Chicken Molé recipe, and indeed, you steam the flour tortillas slightly to soften if they require it. Really fresh flour tortillas most likely need no additional softening but you do want to warm them before you fill and roll them.

And chimichangas are in reality large flour enchiladas, fried -- And flautas are small flour enchiladas fried.

#7 snowangel

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 12:02 PM

Thanks, Jaymes, for remembering my request!

A couple of comments/questions:

When you talk about "green chiles," what kind of chiles?

Yes, less is more. That's sort of what I was getting at. I know my neighbor uses leftover carnitas at times -- she has indicated that if she doesn't have enough left over for traditional "taco" use, she makes enchiladas with them. And, I think I may have mentioned the ones I have had (tortillas prepared like in your first recipe) that had a smattering of cheese and onions in them, were folded in half, overlapped, blanketed with a bit more sauce, with a "ridge" of cheese on top. One of the things I really liked about these is that the tortillas sort of took center stage, and the fact that by just ribboning them with sauce before baking, the edges of the tortillas were sauced, but crunchy.

Cheese. I have very easy access to many kinds of Mexican cheese. This begs for an explanation of the different kinds, and potential uses. This may require yet another thread.

And, while we're on other threads, how about Mexican stews? Soups (other than tortilla soup)?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#8 stellabella

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 12:36 PM

snowangel, are you familiar with rick bayless's cookbooks?

#9 Suvir Saran

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 01:38 PM

snowangel, are you familiar with rick bayless's cookbooks?

I have them at home... are they good Stellabella?
I have enjoyed some good meals at his restaurants...
And some better meals cooked by those as passionate as Jaymes and some friends that are Mexican...
I am amazed at how nicely Rick has elevated the dining experience in the world of Mexican cuisine.... I hope we can have similar strides made in the world of some other ethnic cuisines... Indian included.
I buy many books... and not all get read... his are unfortunately in the "not yet read" list.
I am very afraid of cooking Mexican food.. Not sure why... I love making salsas and guacamole... But my efforts begin and end with those....
I need to find some strength and do it... Someday. :unsure:

#10 snowangel

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 02:51 PM

snowangel, are you familiar with rick bayless's cookbooks?

Yes, I am. I'm getting together with a friend this weekend who has a bazillion cookbooks, and she recommended his, as well as some by Diana Kennedy. Sounds like I need to raid her bookshelves!

When it comes to food from different cultures, I'm just about as happy reading about the different styles of homes vs. restaurants and the different regions as actual recipes.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#11 Dana

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 03:39 PM

I usually use the folding technique for my enchiladas as well. The dish comes out more like a casserole and is easier for serving to the family than getting each a whole, rolled enchilida (or 5).

A recipe that my bunch loves is probably not authentic, but very good---

Saute onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic in butter till softened. Add cream and reduce till slightly thickened. Add a couple of chopped tomatoes and cilantro, then season well with cumin, cayenne, chili powder, s&p. Add a pound of small shrimp and some frozen crawfish. Simmer till seafood is done. Off heat, add some cheddar and jack cheese. Use this mix for the filling in the corn tortillias (soften in oil as Jaymes says) and roll. Pour remaining cream sauce over top and sprinkle on more cheese. Bake till heated through.
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#12 jciel

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 05:26 PM

I just completed a Mexican dinner for some of our international clients, and of all things, they wanted enchiladas. One of my staff is an older hispanic woman who then taught me to make the stacked enchiladas like her grandmother did. Essential ingredients were chicken stock, dried Guajillo chiles and Cojito cheese. After that, everything is mechanics. We softened the chiles in warm chicken stock, strained, pureed the chiles, added back some stock to thin, and we had the sauce, no tomatoes, nothing else. Fiery as hell, but unbelievably simple. To the Cojito, which she grates, she adds, onion, garlic,salt, pepper, and radish. Dip the tortillas as previously explained, fill, roll, stack, and cover with sauce and cojito. Bake to soften the cheese and its done. If only I'd known this before...

#13 Jaymes

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 05:51 PM

When you talk about "green chiles," what kind of chiles?

For this recipe, I use mild green chiles - like Anaheim or Poblano.

If you wish, you can toss in something a little zippier - but in my experience, most often in Mexican homes a bowl of sliced pickled jalepeños or salsa or bottled hot sauce like Tapatia or some other way to add "picante" would be placed on the table rather than adding it to the dish during cooking.

Edit: Originally had said, "Anaheim or Ancho." But, as Sladeums reminded me, "ancho" is the term used for Poblano chiles after they turn red and are picked and dried. So, although sometimes I do use one or two of them, what I should have said is "Poblano" which are the fresh green ones you find in markets.

#14 Jaymes

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 06:00 PM

Fiery as hell, but unbelievably simple. To the Cojito, which she grates, she adds, onion, garlic,salt, pepper, and radish. Dip the tortillas as previously explained, fill, roll, stack, and cover with sauce and cojito. Bake to soften the cheese and its done.

If only I'd known this before...

True Mexican cuisine is a marvel.

#15 Jinmyo

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 06:35 PM

Mexican and Latin cuisines are marvelous.

Unfortunately, living in the frozen wastes of Canada, much of it is irrelevant (oops) to me as the ingredients and "terroire" are not really available.

There has been a tremendous growth in the availability of chiles and peppers in Canada over the last decade or so. Poblanos, cubanelles, and habaneros are as common as jalapeno now. There is a local shop called Chilly Chiles which trades in dried chiles such as chilhuacle negro and hot sauces and such.

So I wind up using ancho powder and freshly made chile pastes quite extensively in grilling. I'll sometimes used smoked Latin style chiles even in Southeast Asian or Indian style dishes.

But tinned cactus is kind of pointless.

Oh well.

(Great thread, Jaymes.)
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#16 Priscilla

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 07:15 PM

Jaymes I wonder have you ever used Las Palmas enchilada sauce? More than one Mexican cook (here in Southern California) has recommended it to me, and I like it.

(Otherwise, it is so Herdez all the way, as I was thrilled to see you advocate elsewhere. Can't really sleep comfortably if there's not at least a single little can of Herdez salsa casera on the pantry shelf.)

Well, a wonderful discussion, this has been, and might be the place to offer the great enchilada recipe a friend's Mexican mom gave me years ago, happens to be a flour-tortilla one:

Mrs. Acevedo's Potato Enchiladas

White potatoes, peeled and boiled in salted water until tender but not falling apart, cut into rough chunks
White onion, chopped finely
Mild or medium cheddar, grated
Fresh flour tortillas
Large can of Las Palmas red enchilada sauce
oil for softening

Soften and sauce tortillas as described by Jaymes. Onto each stack a line of cheese, onion, and potato. Roll carefully, as the flour tortillas can tear easily. (Mrs. Acevedo tucked in the ends as she rolled, ending up with a burrito-like package, and I usually do this too, for this recipe; when I have made them with small-sized flour tortillas as part of a menu, I have left the ends open as in other enchilada preparations.) Place in pan as aforedescribed.

A bit of leftover sauce can be poured over, but Mrs. Acevedo did not make these a wet preparation. The tortillas are chili-tomato stained from the permeated sauce, soft and flavorful, but not dripping. A little cheese on top for fancy, for instance over the smaller type I would say. Cover the pan with foil, and 20 minutes in the oven should do it, maybe a little more. Also they benefit greatly from sitting around a few minutes after removal, letting the temp drop and the textures assimilate.

In the offiice where I first ate these enchiladas, Mrs. Acevedo's son (she was providing his pot luck contribution) was barred, BARRED, from entering on subsequent similar occasions until he displayed a big pan of these.

Priscilla

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#17 sladeums

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 08:50 PM

For this recipe, I use mild green chiles - like Anaheim or Ancho.  

I may have missed something, but do you mean Poblanos? Or do you also use Anchos interchangebly w/ the fresh green chile? I'm not sure, let me know.


Jaymes I wonder have you ever used Las Palmas enchilada sauce?

Do you mean the Las Palmas that comes in the big jars like spaghetti sauce? I believe so...and it is a HUGE step over Old El Paso and it's ilk. Not too bad....not the best, but definitely do-able in a pinch.
...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

#18 Jaymes

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 08:54 PM

Jaymes I wonder have you ever used Las Palmas enchilada sauce?

Yes and I like it, too. And I know that taking a can of tomato sauce and adding a few ingredients sounds too easy to be any good. That's what I thought, anyway, the first time mi amiga told me to do it.

But that's what I do now - so haven't bought Las Palmas or other enchilada sauce for a very long time now.

I generally make my own salsa and after they grew up and left home, my children couldn't get the hang of not having it around so all three of them make it as well. But, when I'm just too tired, or not in the mood, I agree with you that Herdez Casera or Verde is the best of the mass-produced brands.

Also, I want to say that every single recipe posted here looks wonderful to me. And I will be trying them very soon. The enchiladas mariscos (seafood) that Dana mentioned do look as though they could have come right from a Mexican kitchen to me, although I don't recall seeing crayfish on many Mexican menus - it would probably be shrimp and other kinds of seafood - but other than that, I've eaten very similar things all over Mexico, particularly in some of the west coast beach towns. And they sound delicious.

But, even if crayfish are not normally used in Mexican cooking, I'm sure they're exceedingly tasty in your enchiladas, and when Mexican cooks can get their hands on them, they'd be quite happy to include them in their seafood preparations.

I try to fix ethnic dishes in the spirit of the culture, but not get so bogged down in "being authentic" that I sound like that tiresome nag Karen on Frontier House.

Jin - thank you for the compliment. This thread was actually Snowangel's idea, and it has turned out so good. I mean, just look at these ideas! Potato enchiladas, and Cojito and chiles and radish and the hits just keep on coming!

#19 Jaymes

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 09:05 PM


For this recipe, I use mild green chiles - like Anaheim or Ancho.  

I may have missed something, but do you mean Poblanos? Or do you also use Anchos interchangebly w/ the fresh green chile? I'm not sure, let me know.

I am not the chile expert that you are. One thing I've discovered is that chiles are called different things in different parts of the country.

But, that said, it is my understanding that in some areas plobano chiles are called "ancho" when they turn red. So, strictly speaking, I should have said that I use poblano or Anaheim chiles, although I do throw in an ancho sometimes (or even a red bell pepper) for color.

Of course, in real life, what I really do is to go to the store and see what is on sale and what looks big and fat and ripe and tasty. Most often green, sometimes red, sometimes yellow.

I can see why this is confusing. What I'd really love is for you to help us out here a little and tell us what you think would be best for this particular green chile sauce - something mild and very flavorful.

#20 sladeums

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Posted 19 November 2002 - 09:22 AM

What I'd really love is for you to help us out here a little and tell us what you think would be best for this particular green chile sauce - something mild and very flavorful.

My choice here for green chiles would probably be the ones you are already using, either Poblano or Anaheim. Flavor-wise the Poblano is preferable...if you have access to them (I don't) Chilacas would be very good as well, probably better than the Anaheim.

As for the mildness issue, instead of the heat level dictating what chile to use, use whatever chile you like and by restraint decide how hot the finished dish will be. Also, you can substitute a standard bell, if pressed, for some of the other chiles mentioned, particularly if you are using Anaheims.
The usual standby enchilada sauce I use contains no tomatoes, just anchos, garlic, salt and milk. Whenever I make it a little too hot for my children I usually just add more milk to cut the heat. If you get something really too far out of your league you can just make a double batch ignoring the chiles the second time around.


Jaymes, I initially thought that the second recipe you posted was for Enchilades Verde...but after re-reading it, I'm not sure. Does the sauce come out more green or red?

When I think of Enchiladas Verde, the sauce that I would use would derive it's color from tomatillos and not from the chiles.
Here's an example:

1 lb tomatillos, husks removed, well rinsed
2 serranos (or to taste). stalks removed
1 clove garlic peeled, roughly chopped
1 Tb lard / oil
1/3 cp chicken broth

Roast tomatillos and serranos under a broiler or in a dry pan over med-high heat, turning occasioally. The tomatillos should soften up quite a bit and everything will get some blackened charred bits here and there...and that's a good thing. (Alternately if you do not wish to mess w/ roasting the tomatillos and chiles you can simply simmer them in water to cover for approx 10 min or until the tomatillas have softened)

Throw the tomatillos, chiles and garlic in a blender and blend until somoth. Heat fat in frying pan until fully hot...add sauce and cook over med heat stirring occasionally. Add broth, correct seasoning and cook and reduce about another 5 min. Set aside and keep hot.


My opinions as to enchiladas in general...
The word enchilada derives from 'enchilar' which means to either season with chile or coat/cover with chile. There are generally two different methods of making them: either a corn tortilla is lightly fried to warm through and soften but not crisp, then dipped in chile sauce and arranged as called for - - or the other way around, the tortilla is dipped in chile sauce and then quickly fried to seal the sauce to the tortilla and arranged as called for.

Most enchiladas are considered pan to mouth food and should be eaten as soon as possible from completion as the tortillas can break down quickly and get mushy...occasionally they are baked - but usually for short periods of time (10-15 min in a 350 oven) just to heat through or melt a cheese topping. Flour tortillas are occasionally used and they are much more amenable to baking.

The enchiladas we usually see here in the US are more akin to what we call burritos but with sauce on them. Traditionally enchiladas will be much smaller - usually using a tortilla from 3 - 6 inches in diamater and filled sparingly. As an example I would say that the average size of an enchilada should be similar to the size and shape of, say a pre-packaged Italian sausage link from the grocery - or maybe about a Twinkie and a half...this would be in contrast to many of the enchiladas you see in the US which can range up to a manly forearm . :biggrin:

As mentioned there are many different ways of forming enchiladas. Rolled is the most common, but they can also be folded in halves, folded in quarters or simply open faced tortillas stacked one upon the other. 'Fillings' can be present in, on or around the enchilada.

The fillings for enchiladas are open to your imagination...some of my preferences are chicken poached in chicken broth, queso fresco, some of the various potato fillings, salpicon or chorizo and eggs.

The real part that makes the enchilada, the chile sauce, likewise are numerous. Any kind of chile can be utilized, tomatoes may or may not be used and the sauces can be super simple all the way up to some of the more intricate moles made for enchiladas. I tend to prefer either enchilada sauce w/o tomatoes or else a tomatillo/verde sauce made with serranos or pasillas. Actually, just about any 'salsa' (I'm thinking authentic salsa) recipe you can find can be utilized as an enchilada sauce by simply frying and reducing the sauce a bit...that is within reason, I'm not sure how excited I'd be about a mango/pineapple enchilada or something like that.

Enchilada sauces are fairly forgiving and open to interpertation...some nice ways of experimenting to find what you like:
-alter the chiles, try different varieties both dried and fresh.
-use spices that generally go well w/ chiles or Mexican food: canela, peppercorns, allspice, cumin, mexican oregano, cilantro, epazote etc...toss a little something in, see what happens.
-toss in a chipotle en adobo (rinsed and seeded if you're sensitive to the heat) or just a little bit of the adobo sauce from the can
-stirring in a couple of lightly broken eggs into your enchilada sauce and cook in the second manner described above (sauced then fried).



There are also many other tortilla variations which are similar to enchiladas:

Enfrijolada - the chile sauce is replaced by a sauce of well mashed/pureed slightly thinned out beans

Entomatada - the chile sauce is replaced by a tomato based sauce, and they are usually milder in heat level

Enjococado - the chile sauce is replaced by a fresh cream sauce
...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

#21 johnjohn

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Posted 19 November 2002 - 09:59 AM

I've never worked with tomatillos. What should I look for when buying them in the store. Should they be soft or firm - what size. They have a sticky substance under the husk - this is normal, right.

Thanks - look forward to making my first enchiladas this weekend.

johnjohn

#22 Jaymes

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Posted 19 November 2002 - 10:09 AM

Jaymes, I initially thought that the second recipe you posted was for Enchilades Verde...but after re-reading it, I'm not sure. Does the sauce come out more green or red?

The sauce comes out green. And since 'enchiladas verde' means, 'green enchiladas,' you could say that this recipe is that. However, it is really green CHILE enchiladas, so the woman who gave me this recipe (decades ago, I should add) referred to it as "Enchiladas Chiles Verdes."

This particular sauce is green-chile based (although as I said, I sometimes use a bit of red for color). It isn't a smooth sauce, but rather chunky - with the chiles taking on the consistancy of what most norteamericanos think of as the sauce/vegetables that arrive atop a plancha of sizzling fajitas.

I, too, love the tang of tomatillos, but it is quite pronounced, and would overpower the flavor of the chiles in this particular dish. The flavor of these enchiladas is more like a chile relleno - mild - with the green chiles as the star - nothing much to get in the way of the chile/cheese flavors.

I've served it very often through the years to groups of guests that include a large number of children, or other people who have expressed a less-than-fond-feeling for the famous spicier dishes of Mexico.

But always, I serve a small dish of sliced, pickled jalepeños alongside for those who wish more picante.

#23 sladeums

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Posted 19 November 2002 - 10:13 AM

I've never worked with tomatillos.  What should I look for when buying them in the store.  Should they be soft or firm - what size.  They have a sticky substance under the husk - this is normal, right.

Thanks - look forward to making my first enchiladas this weekend.

johnjohn


I guess you could say they range in size from a quarter in diamater on up to large-ish plum-size...I usually pick the medium to larger looking sized ones as opposed to the teeny ones - I think I have seen somewhere comments on taste differences in size bit don't distinctly recall what or where.
You want them to be firm, if there are mushy spots it's no good...watch for any obvious moldl...the husks peel back easily so you can look inside if you feel the need to.

And yes, they are rather sticky, remove and discard the husk and rinse them under water (temp is not an issue). It is not necessary to scrub or be overly aggressive about getting off all of the outside coating...a light rinse w/ casual rubbing between your hands is sufficient.
I usually do this with a colander or whatever next to me...as each is rinsed toss 'em in your colander and proceed as normal when I'm done.

They are a wonderful item to work with...a unique flavor and very easy to use.
...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

#24 Jaymes

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Posted 19 November 2002 - 10:15 AM

[Tomatillo Sauce]

1 lb tomatillos, husks removed, well rinsed
2 serranos (or to taste). stalks removed
1 clove garlic peeled, roughly chopped
1 Tb lard / oil
1/3 cp chicken broth

Roast tomatillos and serranos under a broiler or in a dry pan over med-high heat, turning occasioally. The tomatillos should soften up quite a bit and everything will get some blackened charred bits here and there...and that's a good thing. (Alternately if you do not wish to mess w/ roasting the tomatillos and chiles you can simply simmer them in water to cover for approx 10 min or until the tomatillas have softened)

Throw the tomatillos, chiles and garlic in a blender and blend until somoth. Heat fat in frying pan until fully hot...add sauce and cook over med heat stirring occasionally. Add broth, correct seasoning and cook and reduce about another 5 min. Set aside and keep hot.

I'd say this recipe is quite traditional. There are several similar recipes in the 'Mexican regional cooking' thread in the 'Mexico' board, and, I think, in the 'chilaquiles' thread, also in the 'Mexico' board.

And, for those who are tomatillo-ly challenged, but want to try some of these recipes, see if your store carries Herdez brand Salsa Verde - an excellent subsitute if you cannot find fresh tomatillos in your area.

#25 sladeums

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Posted 19 November 2002 - 10:28 AM

And, for those who are tomatillo-ly challenged, but want to try some of these recipes, see if your store carries Herdez brand Salsa Verde - an excellent subsitute if you cannot find fresh tomatillos in your area.


Zapata's 'Fire Roasted Green' and Frontera Kitchens (Bayless) 'Tomatillo Salsa' and 'Rustic Guajillo Salsa' are also very good substitutions.

Try any of these on a grilled steak, you'll never have to buy A-1 again.
Seriously.

Zapata's may be more widely available in some regions...but anywhere w/ even a smattering of Hispanic population should have Herdez.
Most all of the Sabroza brand salsa's are very good as well.
...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

#26 Jaymes

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Posted 19 November 2002 - 10:36 AM

Sladeums -

Since you are so fond of chiles, I suggest you try the Green Chile Enchiladas.

As I just said in the post explaining the difference between them and the tomatillo-based green sauces, you might really enjoy the richness of a sauce that is really not much more than these mild chiles themselves.

I'd love to hear what you think of them.

#27 sladeums

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Posted 20 November 2002 - 10:29 AM

Here's the recipe I use for a red enchilada sauce:

4 large Anchos, stemmed, seeded and deveined
2 cups whole milk
2 cloves garlic, chopped
lard / oil for frying
1 Tb sugar (or to taste)
salt to taste

Soak the cleaned chiles in hot water for 15 minutes, drain, tear chiles apart and drop in a blender and blend with the milk and garlic until smooth.
Heat enough fat to cover the bottom of a frying pan - when thoroughly heated add the sauce and sugar, cook over med to med-high stirring regularly until thickened and somewhat reduced.
Correct seasonings...set aside and keep warm until ready to fill enchiladas.
...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

#28 Jaymes

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Posted 20 November 2002 - 10:39 AM

Since several people mentioned "flour tortilla enchiladas," thought I'd post a good (and simple, home-cooking type) recipe.

Carne Seca Burros

Carne seca means "dry meat." So, before you assemble your burros, you'll need to make the meat. Most Mexicans make this with a very dry cut of beef, often brisket. In Dutch oven, season brisket to taste with whatever you like on your beef. Add just a little water, to keep bottom from burning, cover, and cook on either stove top or in oven until meat is fully cooked and falling apart. Check from time to time to be sure there is a little water in bottom of pot, but remember that your goal here is to wind up with thoroughly-cooked meat without a lot of liquid. (Think 'baked meat.') Allow to cool down, then separate into pieces and cut into bite-sized strings of meat.

For burros:

2 tsp olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
4-oz can green chiles, diced (or roast, peel, dice fresh ones)
4 stewed tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
S&P to taste
2 lbs (approximately) carne seca
6 flour tortillas

In skillet, heat oil and saute onion, chiles, tomatoes, garlic till "mushy." Add chopped carne seca and mix well. Correct seasonings. Cook, covered for 10 minutes, then uncovered an additional 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently, until flavors have blended and filling mixture is dried. I like cilantro and often add some after I remove mixture from heat.

Warm tortillas and add meat. Roll up into burros.

You can eat these as is, or place them into a casserole and garnish with little favorite red or green sauce, or a little cheese if you like, and heat briefly in moderate oven, if you want to serve them all at once and make a nice presentation. When I do that, I usually sprinkle a nice handful of fresh chopped cilantro over all just after I remove it from the oven.

Edited by Jaymes, 20 November 2002 - 10:42 AM.


#29 Jaymes

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 09:58 PM

I PM'd this to several folks, but have been asked to post it...so...okay...

But first, a disclaimer. I make absolutely no assertion whatsoever that these are the best, or most "authentic," or most "anything" recipes that you will ever find for enchiladas. They just happen to be two of my favorites.

I am basically a home cook. Most of my Mexican recipes come from friends that are also home cooks like I, only Mexican.

Every recipe I've ever seen for enchiladas that comes from a Mexican source combines a few simple ingredients that require little additional cooking after assembly. So, the instructions are invariably to just pop into oven for twenty minutes or so to heat through.

Most "U.S." or TexMex concoctions have gloppy, heavy sauces (often one of the "cream of" soups) and one must cook these for much longer.

Now, I'm not berating these 'American-Mexican' type of enchiladas. They have their place. But anyone searching for 'authenticity' would do well to err in the direction of less is more.

I am giving two recipes here. Both are quite simple. But they are wonderful. The first is the traditional rolled enchilada most of us are familiar with. The second is the type of stacked enchilada typical of Sonora, northern Mexico, and New Mexico. And both of these were given to me by Mexican friends who got them from mothers, and grandmothers, and greatgrandmothers. Convenience foods are used ("Just BUY the tomato sauce, for heaven's sake," one friend told me that her mother had replied after she complained that she didn't make enchiladas much because granny's recipe started off by cooking down fresh tomatoes and blending and straining them to make the sauce and that was so much trouble) when appropriate, but these recipes are "authentic" and have been handed down for generations.


Chicken Enchiladas

Stew 1 nice big fat chicken with seasoned salt, couple cloves garlic, an onion, bay leaf, sprig fresh oregano, in water just to cover. Remove chicken (reserving broth for another use), cool and pick off meat, tearing into large bite-sized chunks.

Simmer 24-oz canned tomato sauce, 3-4 Tbls 100% New Mexico Red Chile Powder (accept no substitutes), or other favorite pure chile powder or ground dried chiles, cumin and seasoned salt to taste, stirring and simmering till all spices are thoroughly blended and sauce is smooth.

Take about a half-pound or so each of good-quality mild Cheddar and jack cheese and grate and combine. (Of course, if you live in an area where you have access to good Mexican cheeses, and have a favorite for enchiladas, use that.)

In skillet, heat unflavored oil (I just use canola or Wesson or something tasteless) until warm but not smoking.

Dip corn tortillas, one at a time, first into the oil and allow to cook slightly but not harden, and then into the hot red sauce, quickly, just to soften and coat with sauce. (This is very tricky. If you don't get the timing exactly right, your tortilla will fall apart. I had a hard time with it for years until finally a Mexicana friend of mine told me she could never do it either, so she got a pie pan and dipped the tortilla into the hot oil, then laid the tortilla in the pie pan and SMEARED it with the red sauce. She did these one at a time until she had four or five in the pie pan, then made her enchiladas from the tortillas in the pan. MUCH easier!)

In your enchilada baking pan, smear a little red sauce over the bottom, then one of your dipped tortillas. In the middle of tortilla, spread in a straight line about 1 Tbls of the mixed grated cheeses, 1 Tbls sauce on top of the cheese, 1 T finely-chopped white onion, then finally, several chunks of the chicken. Roll up the enchilada and place in the pan, seam side DOWN. That should mean that the cheese and sauce side is now UP.

Repeat this until all your ingredients are gone. You will be better off if you put your enchiladas in a nice arrangement, snugly side by side, but don't fill up all of the nooks and crannies. If you just shove them in any which way, it won't taste worse, but it doesn't look as pretty and is much more difficult to garnish attractively.

Now, pour the rest of your red sauce crosswise over the center of the enchiladas, like you're laying a red carpet down their middles. Sprinkle cheese in the middle of the 'carpet.'

Your ingredients are already cooked, so you don't want to leave the enchiladas in the oven too long or it will dry out. Just long enough to heat through and melt the cheeses. 350 for about 20 minutes.

This makes about 15-18 enchiladas, kinda depending on how big your chicken is.

Remove from oven. Garnish with sour cream, then sprinkle with sliced black olives and chopped green onions and serve immediately. If you don't think this is "authentic," then for goodness' sake, don't add them. I don't care.


Sonoran-Style Stacked Green Chile Enchiladas

Prepare your green sauce first:
For sauce:
12 medium green chile peppers (of course, fresh are way best, but if you must, use canned)
2 medium tomatoes (or 1 cup canned tomatoes)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1 tsp salt

Roast chiles over gas burners, or on outdoor grill, or on comal, or under broiler until blistered. Put into plastic baggies and allow steam to permeate. This makes the chiles easy to peel. Remove peel, core, seeds, and visible veins. Chop into half-inch pieces. Place into saucepan and add tomatoes, onion, salt and garlic. Pour in enough water just barely to cover and simmer ten minutes.

For enchiladas:
1 doz corn tortillas
2 C grated cheese (again, if you have a fave Mex cheese, use it; if not, half good quality mild cheddar and half jack)
3 C green chile sauce

Allow two or three tortillas per person. Fry tortillas quickly in hot fat just to soften, then dip into hot green chile sauce. You are going to assemble these on the individual serving plates. I usually have my plates stacked in a warm oven. One at a time, place a prepared tortilla on warm plate, sprinkle with cheeses, another hot tortilla, more cheese, top with hot tortilla. Pour over as much green chile sauce as you like for desired wetness. Serve immediately. You can top it with a dollop of sour cream if you'd like. That turns it into an Enchilada Suiza, or Swiss Enchilada (for some reason I've never understood).

And these are two of my favorite recipes.

What are yours?

:rolleyes:

Edited by Jaymes, 26 May 2004 - 08:46 AM.


#30 ExtraMSG

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 12:34 AM

The Sonoran ones sound pretty interesting. I'd like to give them a try. I think Peyton has some interesting enchilada recipes like that in his Cocina de la Frontera book, too.

I'm about to go on vacation and don't have time (Jaymes is thinking yay! extramsg might shut his carnitas hole for once :wink:) to write it up, but Diana Kennedy has some really interesting suggestions -- a whole list of them -- in From My Mexican Kitchen if anyone has access to it. It might be worthwile to paraphrase them.

Also, I really like poaching chicken by starting it in cold water. It seems to make a significant difference in the flavor penetration. I usually just cook it until the meat reaches 170 using my probe thermometer. Along with the things you mentioned, I also like whole peppercorns in the water. I'm really glad you had the "reserving the broth" line. Some of those poaching broths are so good I could just suck them down straight.

btw, have any recipes for dipped then fried street-style enchiladas? That's the recipe I'm working on for the antojitos thing.

Lastly, there's a recipe in Marge Poore's book for a pepita red sauce that's really good on enchiladas if anyone has that book.

Looking forward to all the comments and experiments and recipes.

Edited by ExtraMSG, 26 May 2004 - 12:36 AM.






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