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Jaymes

Enchiladas: The Topic

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Hmmm. Don't know if this is legit or not, since this thread really seems to be concentrating on chicken, but here's a batch of enchiladas I'm making as we speak that is damned good. They are Tex-Mex and beef, so if this is heresy, get the fire going :wacko:. But there is no gloppy goo in them, and they are pretty straightforward (after the chili is made). First just a smidge of background.

I grew up in Fort Worth, and Joe Garcia's was THE Tex Mex restaurant for years in the 1960s and 70s. The kitchen was filled with a string of black iron stoves manned by a host of little Mexican grandmothers. Their English was non-existent, but the food they cooked would bring tears to the eyes of a strong man. The "standard" dish was enchiladas, cheese and chili, and it was mother's love on a plate. Over the years, I fiddled around until I came up with what I think is a tolerable approximation to the same dish, which I'm making tonight. Step one, of course, is making the chili, which for us is a big pot of kick-ass Texas chili (which is about 75% done now). Then corn tortillas are slipped very quickly through chili gravy (lard, beef stock, chili powder and coriander), laid into a baking dish, and filled with scant portions of chopped scallions, cheese, about 1/4 C of chili, and a bit of picante sauce. These are rolled, topped with a bit more cheese, and baked just long enough to melt the cheese, then pulled out. Top with another 1/4 C of chili and shredded iceberg lettuce (nice temperature/texture contrast there). I'm biased, of course, because these are what I grew up with, but casting modesty to the winds, they are pretty damned good :raz:.

Edited because I am a lousy proof reader :wacko:.


Edited by hwilson41 (log)

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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hwilson41. Absolutely legit, and making my mouth water. I think an "authentic" enchilada merely only requires a tortilla!


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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hwilson41.  Absolutely legit, and making my mouth water.  I think an "authentic" enchilada merely only requires a tortilla!

Thank you snowangel :raz:. If I can time it right, I'll post a few pictures later tonight or tomorrow. Boundaries are usually pretty flexible around here, which is one of the many things I love about egullet.

OT: I'll be saying silent prayers for you poor folks in the upper reaches of the midwest. I'm in northern VA, and we're going down into the 30s tonight. What the hell ever happened to Spring :wacko:?


"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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Jaymes

Tongo....if you read the first post on this thread, I give a typical recipe for New Mexico-style stacked enchiladas. They, too, are just assembled...not baked.

Thanks, I saw it, and I've done something similar. Great stuff. I think it definitely makes a difference to run the tortillas through the oil if you're going to make the stacked version. Of course, I'm at the point now where I add shredded lettuce and radishes to all of my enchilada endeavors. Like hwilson41 pointed out- the temperature/texture contrast just kills.


aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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I've always made enchiladas with corn tortillas, but I've learned that quite a few people make them with flour tortillas, although I don't think I've had those in Mexico. I did notice that restaurants that were more colonial or Spanish used flour tortillas more than the ones that seemed more native or possibly rural.

I have a couple of cookbooks in Spanish that were published in Mexico City. Some of the recipes for enchiladas call for simply "tortillas" and some call for "tortillas de maíz". even within the same book. Nowhere in the books is the word "tortilla" defined to mean corn or wheat or both, but the book México the Beautiful Cookbook says in its glossary that the word tortilla to most Mexicans means masa tortillas. Should I assume this is true for the books in Spanish, which BTW are Cocina tradicional mexicana by Blanca Nieto and Recetasd de todo México, Tipicas y SABROSAS by Angeles de la Rosa.

I've also noticed recipes that are called molé that are almost identical to what I've been calling enchilada sauce. Basically, I use several types of dried chilies, chicken stock, onion, garlic, achiote paste, cumin, tomato paste, and oregano. Without the achiote paste, cumin, and tomato paste, I guess it would be a chili sauce, but I'm not sure at what point a chili sauce becomes something else. I often omit certain of my ingredients just to get different variations, and I'm not always sure what to call what I make.

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LarsTheo,

Flour tortillas take on a slimy texture when cooked in sauce for any period and often just fall apart, dissolve, or break up.

Save them for burritos and fajitas.

As far as I know, flour tortillas are used seldom in traditional Mexican cooking. Probably a relatively modern introduction. I think it is safe to assume, that, unless a recipe specifies flour tortillas, it is referring to corn tortillas.

-Erik


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Enchiladas should be made with corn tortillas!! Flour tortillas were practically unknown in Mexico until about 20 years ago, though they were popular in the northern states and on both sides of the border before that. The Spaniards planted wheat in that part of Mexico when they arrived because the soil was better suited for it than corn.

Even corn tortillas have a tendency to get soggy if they're not served at once. Flour tortillas turn to mush. I judge a cookbook or restaurant by the kind of tortillas they use to make enchiladas--they must be corn.

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The Spaniards planted wheat in that part of Mexico when they arrived because the soil was better suited for it than corn.

I think they did it because they wanted wheat for the host. And it was a real struggle trying to find somewhere to grow wheat.

Even corn tortillas have a tendency to get soggy if they're not served at once.

I've had pretty good luck if the tortillas aren't too fresh and you fry them just right.

I judge a cookbook or restaurant by the kind of tortillas they use to make enchiladas--they must be corn.

I can't imagine a flour tortilla but there is a tradition of using flour tortillas in California cooking during the Californios and rancho eras, according to Jacqueline Higuera McMahan, who wrote Rancho Cooking a few years ago.


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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You're right about the Spaniards needing wheat for particular reasons. They felt more comfortable in that northern region of Mexico because it resembled the part of Spain from which many of the early settlers came--Extremadura.

As you suggest, enchiladas will hold up better if made with corn tortillas that are not freshly made. I always give mine a quick dunk into hot oil on both sides before I sauce and fill them, which does, indeed, make them hold up better.

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BTW, if you have friends or loved ones that must have their enchiladas made with flour tortillas minimize the time the tortillas are in contact with the sauce and filling.

Pretend you are cooking in a taqueria or restaurant. Have your sauce and filling hot. Fill your tortillas, roll, sauce, cheese, microwave briefly, and serve immediately.

I haven't had it for years, but, I used to be partial to mixed seafood filling rolled in flour tortillas and covered with a southwestern style green chile sauce.

RE: Mole

I'm never quite sure where a Mole sauce starts and a Pippian or Red Chile sauce stops, either. Does anyone have a concise definition or set of criterion for the various sauces called Moles?

My impression is Moles tend to be sort of special occasion versions of other sauces. A lot of ingredients, some of which might be more costly or unusual than you'd use for everyday.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I grew up in a small, rural, Sierra Nevada lumber town. There were many of our neighbors from Mexico, mostly Jalisco. They all made their enchiladas with flour tortillas. I think this was because we were so isolated that masafor corn tortillas was unavailable.

My dad never did acquire a taste for corn tortillas but I do not like flour tortillas in enchiladas because of the slimy gooeyness.

As I recall, Lupe would quickly dip the flour tortillas in sauce and then fry them a bit before filling and saucing them. It does improve the texture way.

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Enchiladas should be made with corn tortillas!!  Flour tortillas were practically unknown in Mexico until about 20 years ago, though they were popular in the northern states and on both sides of the border before that.  The Spaniards planted wheat in that part of Mexico when they arrived because the soil was better suited for it than corn.

Even corn tortillas have a tendency to get soggy if they're not served at once.  Flour tortillas turn to mush.  I judge a cookbook or restaurant by the kind of tortillas they use to make enchiladas--they must be corn.

I agree to only use corn tortillas for enchiladas, but.... I was eating flour tortillas in DF well before 20 years ago... at home we always had the choice for quesadillas, for example...


www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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To my understanding, flour tortillas are a Tex-Mex thing. When Germans moved in, they had already had maize brought back to the old world, which contracted pollagra and then discounted maize as strictly animal fodder.

Of course, with my German background, I find it difficult to eat most but the exceptionally charming tortilla de maiz, so I make my enchiladas with flour tortillas. Traditional, no, but my family and friends like it, so I continue.

Forgive me, for I have sinned.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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When I lived in New Mexico I recall places serving burritos enchlada style.Seems like a good differention label.

Also seems like more like a dish that should be eaten asap.

The traditional corn enchilada is more likely to being still intact further down the line...

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