Saturday, 1 December 2012


The way I do enchiladas (and most other Mexican dishes I've learned how to make) are mainly inspired by Rick Bayless, who I worship like a god.  Okay not really.  But I do think his books are fantastic and I've thrown many a nice Mexican food party based on his ideas.  

Anyway I've got my own variations on his enchiladas.

Sorry this picture is a little fuzzy.  But this batch was pretty good.  Even though this was done "the easy way" 'cause that night I didn't feel like doing it "the hard way" (see below).

Dave Barrows rendition of Enchiladas.

Enchiladas:  the hard way (but the good way)

Making the sauce the proper way is a lot of work but well worth it when people fall off their chairs, start speaking in tongues and doing other unspeakable things.  :-)  

I'm not gonna give exact proportions here.  You can improvise and find your own version.  Basically in the picture above, it's a roasting pan which is about 10 inches square and 3 or 4 inches deep.  I used a pack of 13 soft corn tortillas.  

The ingredients:

Soft corn tortillas
Fresh vegetables (chiles, peppers, onions, garlic)
Dried red chiles (preferably New Mexico, Ancho, etc)
Olive Oil
Sharp English Cheddar Cheese
A jar of good salsa (like the ones on this page)
New Mexico Chile Powder
Cumin, Salt, Pepper
A can of tomatillos (if you're doing green chicken enchiladas)

Update:  After I wrote this, I realized the term "corn tortillas" is ambiguous if you live in the UK.  There's a misconception of what a "corn tortilla" is because of the so-called "Mexican" food section (which is mainly an outlet for the "El Paso" brand) that you find in most supermarkets like Tesco or Sainsburys.  

Let me be clear:  THIS is NOT a corn tortilla.  Yes I know it says corn tortilla on the package.  But it's really a FLOUR tortilla with a tiny bit of corn flour in it.  If you try to make these enchiladas with that crap, you will end up with a soggy mess.  (Full disclosure:  I've never actually tried it, but that's what I imagine would happen if you tried to make enchiladas with flour tortillas).

Now THIS is a corn tortilla.  If you live in London you can get them at the Cool Chile Company's stall in Borough Market or the Whole Foods in Stoke Newington (for example).  

So.  On to the enchiladas...

The sauce:  part 1

First you've got to do Rick Bayless's trick of the authentic Mexican red sauce, which is to take dried chiles, grill them on a cast iron skillet with a metal spatula until they're slightly smoking, then re-hydrate them in hot water.  You've got to get the amount of water right for that part of the recipe, because if it's too watery it's not good.  I'm not gonna tell you what the right amount is!  I think it's about a cup to two or three large dried chiles.  Anyway then you let it sit for awhile, then process it in a blender or food processor, then run it through a strainer.  It's a bit of work but you get this red paste that's just incredibly tasty.  The best chiles to use here are New Mexico red chiles, or ancho chiles, etc.  If you're in California, or anywhere in the Southwest, you can find those everywhere, especially at good Mexican grocery stores.  If you're in London, your best bet is to get it from the Cool Chile Co.  Otherwise search the web.  And you might as well buy one of Bayless's books while you're at it... try "Mexico One Plate at a Time".  Some killer recipes in there.

The sauce:  part 2

Here's what I think lifts my version up a notch!

You (ideally) fire roast vegetables.  If you can't fire roast them (i.e. if you've got an electric oven instead of a gas oven) just grill 'em close to the heat element.  I like to do red and yellow bell peppers, fresh red chiles, onion, garlic, etc.  Whatever you like, along those lines.  Blacken the skins against the fire.  Then you chop up the fire roasted veggies and you then fry them in olive oil.  Are we having fun yet?  :-D

Once they're fried, and you've got your nice pasty red sauce from part 1, then you throw it all together and mix it.  I've got one of those little hand mixers; you could do it in a blender or food processor, but you want to liquefy it until its the consistency of... well... enchilada sauce.  Or, say, a thick ketchup.  With my version it's gonna be slightly chunkier than the normal smooth red enchilada sauce.

If you're going green (i.e., you're making chicken enchiladas), you can get a can of tomatillos and a nice jar of green salsa and throw that in there as well.  

Put it in a big bowl or container and have it handy for when you are ready to assemble.

The meat:

If you're doing beef enchiladas, then fry some onion, green onion, garlic, and a small red and a small green chile in oil (olive or other vegetable oil).  Throw in a pound of ground (minced) beef.  Fry it all up nicely until the meat is browned.  Douse it with a shake of pure New Mexico chile powder and some cumin, salt and pepper.

If you're doing chicken, then I just boil up some chicken stock and throw some chicken breasts in there and cook them in the stock, then chop them fine once they're cooked.

The cheese:

I love a sharp English cheddar on these babies.  Oh yeah.  Get your cheese grater out.

The assembly:

Grease your 10x10 roasting pan with some olive oil on a paper towel.  Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200C (350F).

Now you want that cast iron skillet again.  Heat the corn tortillas one by one.  As you pull one off, put one in the roasting pan.  Spoon some meat onto it, and grate some cheese.  Then pour some of that lovely sauce in.  Now roll the whole thing up and push it against the side of the pan to make room for the others.  Repeat the process until the whole pan is filled with your nice little rolled up enchiladas, all filled with meat, cheese and sauce.

Then, pour more sauce over the top of the whole thing, and then grate some more cheese on top.

Now cover the whole thing in foil and stick it in the oven for 20 or 30 minutes or so.  (20 is probably fine).

Serve it with a nice salad and some guacamole and corn chips.  And a nice Mexican beer or a Spanish Rioja or a Californian or Chilean Pinot.

Then say:

Ai por Dios!  


"Dude... that sh-t is good."

The easy way:

If you're in a hurry you can skip the whole hassle of the sauce above and just use two jars of this stuff.