Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the elusive real enchilada sauce

It is very frustrating when searching around for authentic recipes to continually come across ones that appear to take a shortcut. I was determined to make chicken enchiladas one night, but quite a bit of searching kept turning up recipes that called for "enchilada sauce". But WHAT is this mysterious sauce? Why can't I figure out a way to make it from scratch? Do I really have to go back to the market and find this stuff? It just feels like cheating.

Searching for enchilada sauce recipes also turned up a mish-mash of recipes, some even calling for jarred salsa, which, really? Come on. So whatever, I have to go find myself a real Mexican cookbook to figure this out, but in the meantime I cobbled some things together and made something that mostly resembled chicken enchiladas. They were actually very good, but I wouldn't call them authentic. And that just kills me, to be honest. Recipe after the jump:


For the enchiladas:
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
12 6-inch corn tortillas
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cups enchilada sauce, recipe to follow
3 cups (about) shredded cooked chicken (use leftovers, or simply poach a couple of chicken breasts in broth or water)
3 cups packed grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 12 ounces)
Sour cream or Mexican crema, to garnish
Cotija cheese, to garnish

Heat 1/3 cup vegetable oil in heavy small skillet over medium-high heat. Using tongs, add 1 tortilla and cook until softened, turning once, about 15 seconds for each side. Transfer tortilla to paper towels and drain well. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in heavy large skillet. Add onion, pepper, and oregano and saute until onion and pepper are tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lightly oil 13x9x2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Spoon 1/2 cup enchilada sauce into dish. Place scant 1/4 cup chicken in center of 1 tortilla. Sprinkle with 1 generous tablespoon onion mixture. Set aside 1/2 cup cheese for topping. Spoon 2 generous tablespoons cheese atop chicken. Roll up tortilla and place seam side down in prepared dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, chicken, onion mixture and cheese. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup cheese. Cover with foil. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.)

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake enchiladas, covered, until sauce bubbles and cheese melts, about 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes to lightly brown the top. Serve hot with sour cream and a sprinkling of cotija cheese.

For the sauce:
3 tbsp chili powder
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp oregano
3 cups chicken broth
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Stirring constantly, slowly add enough of the broth to make a thin paste. Pour into pan and add rest of broth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Stir in tomato sauce.


Leah said...

That is an interesting problem. I'm going to ask Alex's Aunt Perrini, who makes sublime enchiladas...

She sure is strange! said...

This might be close to what you are looking for. Its a classic Tex-Mex "chili gravy" or enchilada sauce. I've made this a few times and it is wonderful, especially with the cheese enchildadas.

Now my mouth is watering for chicken enchiladas! Maybe tomorrow, tonight is leftover red beans and rice, always better the second day.


roger said...

I imagine any chile sauce would do. I can ask the maid how she makes it. We don't have US style enchiladas down here...

Leah said...

Oh, yeah--I forgot to say that these look delish.

faycat said...

Archie, do you have enchiladas with green sauce down there, enchiladas suizas? I get those at a couple of restaurants around here that seem to be quite authentic, but I never really knew if it was a typical dish. I love them, I have to make them next. Any and all recipes are welcome!