Enchiladas

Enchiladas are a versatile main dish that can be as light or as cheesy and substantial as you like them. Personally when it comes to cheese, we like to go deep, and we figure if you’re going to go to all the trouble to put together a casserole of enchiladas, you might as well get out that cheese grater and use it.

Whether you make your enchiladas with or without meat, chile is the most important ingredient.

The word “enchilada” means “all chiled up” in Spanish and that is exactly what it is – whether you stack the tortillas or roll them, or whether the tortillas are made of flour or corn – it’s a dish covered in chile sauce. Enchiladas come with red or green sauce (or Christmas, which is both), no matter what the filling.

The chile sauces for enchiladas are different than the chile stews in the other section of this book. These sauces have more in common with gravies and roux-based sauces than they do to the stews of thinner consistencies.

Here are the vegetarian versions of the sauces. To make meat enchilada sauces, add the finely chopped cooked meat of your choice. You can either brown the chopped meat after the onions are done, or you add already-prepared meats to the sauce after the gravy has been made – like boiled and de-boned chicken, pulled pork, beef or even fried and de-greased chorizo or duck.

Vegetarian Red Chile Enchilada Sauce

This sauce is very much like Chile Colorado Sauce but is made with fine chunks of onion and garlic.

2 medium minced onions or one large one
3 Tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons flour
salt and pepper to taste
2-4 Tablespoons red chile powder (depending on the heat of the chile and how hot you like it)
1 ½ cups broth or water

In a large frying pan, make a roux with the oil flour and salt and pepper. When the flour is almost nut brown add the powdered red chile and brown it slightly before slowly adding the broth. Stirring constantly during the adding of the liquid will keep it from getting lumpy. You want it thick enough to cling to the tortilla when you dip it but not too thick or it will be more of a paste.

Vegetarian Green Chile Enchilada Sauce

2 medium minced onions or one large one
3 Tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons flour
1 13 oz. container of frozen green chiles, chopped, thawed
1 ½ cups broth or water

In a large frying pan, make a roux with the oil, flour, and salt and pepper. When the flour is almost nut brown add the container of green chile and brown it slightly in the pan before slowly adding the broth. Stirring constantly during the adding of the liquid will keep it from getting lumpy. You want it thick enough to cling to the tortilla when you dip it but not too thick or it will be more of a paste.

The Fillings

No matter what you choose to roll up in your tortillas, make sure the filling has had the fat skimmed off and that the ingredients are not unduly wet or the tortillas will get soggy and the dish will not be quite a yummy as when the flavors and density are in balance. If your filling is too thin either cook it down a little, skim off the fat or drain it off in a colander.

Cheese Filling

It doesn’t really matter what kind of cheese you use for your enchiladas, but a nice firm Colby cheese or a Colby and Monterey jack are the usual favorites. Asadero and also queso fresca are used and if you add a little bit of sour cream to the grated cheese mixture, you’ll have a wonderful creamy filling that is known as the Swiss Enchilada. Cheese fillings can stand up to both red and green chiles, so either sauce is used, but this recipe calls for green chile.

8 oz. pkg of Colby cheese, grated
8 oz. pkg Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 medium onion finely knife-chopped or minced in the food processor, but excess onion milk drained off unless you REALLY like the taste of onion
8 oz. package of frozen green chile, chopped and thawed
2 Tablespoons sour cream (optional)

Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Allow the flavors to mingle in the refrigerator while you prepare the other parts of the enchiladas.

Veggie Filling

The best vegetables and other non-meat items for your meatless enchilada ought to be vegetables that don’t turn watery when they cook. The best choices are beans, black olives, mushrooms, corn, grated zucchini, firm cubed tofu, rices, quinoa, and of course, onions and chile.

1 large onion, chopped fine
1 clove of garlic, chopped fine
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
3 cups of your chopped veggies, beans, grains, mushrooms or any combination you can dream of
½ cup grated cheese
Your chile of choice

Sauté the chopped onion in the oil until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the chopped vegetables and other non-meat items, hard to soft, into the frying pan until nicely sautéed. Add the garlic at the very end, along with your chile of choice. Drain off the excess moisture if necessary (reserve the delicious juice and toss it into the enchilada sauce if it needs a little thinning at some point) and toss with the grated cheese.

Meat Filling

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ cup grated cheese
Your chile of choice

Sauté the chopped onion in the oil until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the meat and brown until done. Add the garlic at the very end, along with the chile of choice. Cook lightly, drain off excess oil and toss the cheese in there. You’ll need to let it cool slightly before trying to roll the enchiladas.

Chicken Filling

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
6 green onions, chopped
½ cup grated cheese
Your chile of choice

No cooking necessary for this filling because the chicken is already cooked and green onions are better tossed in without cooking. If you don’t have green onions, regular onions will do, and you might want to sauté them if you prefer them that way, or chop them extra fine and put them in raw. The bright flavor is a nice foil for the chicken. Add the grated cheese and chile and you’re ready to roll.

Preparing the Tortillas

If your enchiladas are going to be made with yellow, white or blue corn tortillas, and this is traditional, you’re going to need to fry them lightly on each side with a little oil. The idea is to give the corn a little toasted flavor while also making the tortilla pliable and more easily rolled.

If you need to go a low-fat route, it is ok to heat them up in a covered casserole dish with a little splash of water. Set them in a 350 oven for a few minutes until the water steams and freshens the tortillas. They won’t be as tasty as the fried tortillas but you’ll be making your heart and doctor happy.

Once the tortillas have been lightly fried in the oil, before you fill the tortillas with your stuffing mixture, you’ll need to individually dip them in the enchilada sauce you’ve prepared. Once dipped, spoon some filling, and if you want, add a little extra cheese then roll it up and put it in a 9×12” baking pan.

Once all the tortillas have been rolled up and put in the pan, slather a little bit of the leftover enchilada sauce onto them, paying special attention to covering the edges. Top with more grated cheese, sliced black olive, chopped green onion or anything else you’d like to top it with.

You can also stack and layer the tortillas and the filling instead of rolling them. Each family has their tradition of how they like their enchiladas prepared. Even though they are made with the exact same ingredients as the rolled enchiladas, some will swear they taste different.

Baking

Bake for 30-40 minutes in a moderate 350-degree oven. You’ll know when the casserole is done, because that’s when there is a little browning of the cheese and the sauce is bubbling all the way around. Let it cool considerably before you serve it so the cheese has time to set and the enchiladas won’t spread all over the plate.

Here’s one of the most delightful things about making homemade enchiladas: there’s usually enough leftovers for one of the most magnificent of New Mexican breakfasts – Enchiladas with a fried egg on top.

 

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