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Your Favorite Enchilada Recipe

I'd like to make enchiladas this weekend and I'm looking for inspiration. They can be beef, chicken or cheese, or a combination of ingredients. I'd like to make my own enchilada sauce, too. I've got access to a good selection of Mexican ingredients at nearby Mexican grocery stores. I won't be making my own tortillas (this time), so I'd like recommendations for what type to use (flour or corn) and maybe even a particular brand. And, what else do I need to know about making enchiladas? Thanks!

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  1. Corn. ONLY. Flour enchiladas? Sounds like something you'd get in Idaho, or Alabama. Corn tortillas are SO much better if they are used correctly. Depending where you are, you might want tortillas from a local tortilleria that are sold in grocery stores. I can recommend El Milagro brand, but i have no idea if they are sold in your area.

    For filling, I'm partial to chicken (dark meat) with spinach, mushroom and a tiny bit of cheese.

    Sauce? I either like NM green chile, or a simple red made from ancho, and guajillo, garlic, and the reg spices, thinned out with chicken stock.

    Then we can get into the moles if you wanna get fancier. You will also be able to buy premade concentrates in your Mex grocery stores - maybe even some housemade pastes if you have a good one. I have yet to find a decent tasting concentrate. I normally have to make it, and then doctor it up.

    If you don't wanna spend much time in the kitchen, you can buy a can of "enchilada sauce" and then doctor it up as you see fit.

    Simple important "must know" -
    You gotta heat up thos corn tortillas (griddle or pan is best) to make them pliable, and then dip them into a little bit of sauce right before you roll em up.

    23 Replies
    1. re: gordeaux

      This is an observation of corn tortillas vs. flour tortillas, at least in my neighborhood: flour tortillas seem to come in a number of different sizes; corn tortillas seem to be available only in one size, and that's small. Is this typical? Should I keep looking until I find larger corn tortillas? Or should I make my enchiladas with small corn tortillas?

      Also, when you mention "green chile", what, exactly, does that mean? Is that fresh NM chile? Poblano chile? Something else? How, exactly, do I make a sauce from ancho and guajillo chiles? And what other combinations of dried chiles make a good sauce?

      1. re: CindyJ

        Corn tortillas are always that "small" size. Fill with shredded chicken, ground beef, chicken. One thing you need to add is sliced black olives. Make any sauce that makes sense to you.

        1. re: CindyJ

          CindyJ -
          SamFujisaka gave you the short answer which is correct, but I'll goa tad deeper:

          Corn tortillas are always that size. They usually come in 2 sizes. Small, and a little bit smaller. Don't go looking for bigger ones - you won't find them. Not sure why you need bigger ones. Flour tortillas are ok in their place. Their place is not enchiladas.
          fajitas, and burritos, maybe. Just not enchiladas. I can see them ending up a gooey mess when made into enchiladas.

          Green Chile is a sauce that stems primarily from the SW areas of the US. New Mexico, Denver, Texas, and other surrounding places as well, but it's very prevalent in the Southwest. If you go to a Burger King in New Mexico, they will ask if you want Green or red chile on your whopper without any provocation - no joke. Chile is a sauce primarily consisting of either red or green chile peppers (specific chiles - a variety of the anaheim - usually grown in the SW region - (the town of Hatch NM is famous for these chiles. You will hear folks talking about Hatch chiles by name.) Anbyway, the chile sauce is made by roasting these green chiles, and making a stew type concoction of sorts. It is lethally delicious when done right. ONe of those things you crave, and can eat non stop. My favorite way is with fried eggs, hash browns, and hot corn tortillas. The red chile, which I am less familiar with is usually made from DRIED chile pods, and is usually more mild, but earthier.

          As for "how to" make a sauce from dried chiles, there are a zillion recipes. When Sam F wrote "make a sauce that makes sense to you" he wasn't kidding. Search the web for "enchilada sauce." I'd go with dried ancho, and guajillo, but that's me. What dried chiles make a good sauce? That is COMPLETELY up to you. It's why you were given a palate. Don't rely on my tongue to suit your tastebuds. My sauce would prolly be ancho, guajillo, sauteed onion, a little cumin, a tiny, tiny, hint of cinnamon, maybe some ground chipotle, and chicken stock. pureed in a blender after toasting the chiles and soaking them.

          One simple hint for you - beware any recipe that calls for "Chili Powder"
          the powder of ground chile pepper is good, but chili powder (the mix of spices) is usually a wrong turn imo. It's a blend of spices that again, someone ELSE likes. Don't use it. Use your OWN tastes.

          1. re: gordeaux

            That's sooooo helpful, gordeaux. Thanks! Obviously, here in SE Pennsylvania, we don't have the variety of fresh chiles that you get in the southwest. We can always get serrano, jalapeno, poblano, anaheim, and a mix of little hot ones (habenero, etc.) We do get quite a selection of dried peppers, however.

            As for "chili powder" -- I've made my own in the past by toasting dried chiles and grinding them in my old coffee grinder along with Mexican oregano, toasted cumin seed, and I can't remember what else. It's these sauces that are still a mystery to me. If it were Italian cooking I was doing, "any sauce that makes sense to [me]" would make sense to me. But I'm not as familiar with the nuances of Mexican flavors, so I guess it'll take a bit of experimenting.

            My inexperience is about to show even more. Here goes: Can tomatillos be used for an enchilada sauce? I once made a really wonderful, spicy, tomatillo salsa, and I'm wondering if I can resurrect that recipe for use this weekend. If not, can you offer another suggestion for using tomatillos? I just bought a pound plus.

            1. re: CindyJ

              If you wanna try to make a batch of green chile (nm style) I'd suggest using the fresh anaheims you can get - poblanos too - maybe a mix of both. It sounds like you know much more than you think, since you know that experimentation is the key to finding what you like, and you are willing to try.

              If you liked the tomatillo salsa you made, DEFINITELY use it for the enchilada sauce. It's all about what YOU like. Sounds like you're like 75% of the way to being comfortable with Mexican "sauces" already. Experimenting IS the key.

              Web up a recipe for Green Chile. My basic recipe:

              1.5 to 1 ratio of onions to peppers.
              Roast, peel, and rough chop the peppers
              Sweat the onions
              Add an amount of fresh mashed or chopped garlic that makes sense to you
              same with ground cumin, fresh ground black pepper, toasted onion powder.
              Sprinkle all ingredients with flour in the pan.
              Let this mixture heat through in your pan until the aromas are all present (few minutes, on med heat - don't want anything to brown) Also, heat it through until you are pretty sure that the raw flour taste is gone.
              From here, add in the peppers, and a rough cut bunch of cilantro.
              Once everything is heated through, add in little bit of chicken stock (basically enough to deglaze)

              Transfer all of it to a blender, and puree it. Add stock to get to the consistency of a thinnish gravy. Salt it to taste if needed. IF you'd like it to be SPICIER, then adjust it with some different (hotter) pepper of your choice, be it ground, fresh - whatever - use YOUR tastes.

              Brown some kind braise cut pork (bonelss pork stew, shoulder pieces, butt pieces etc - you get the drift)

              Toss the sauce, and meat into a pot, and slow cook it (covered) until the meat is tender. Take out the meat, and shred/chop it (bite size) and then throw it back in. Squeeze in a little lime juice. You're done.

              The anaheims are not a normally burning hot pepper. Of course, it all depends on your tolerance, and the variety of pepper, but I wouldn't plan on this sauce being really hot - more like nicely WARM in your mouth. This is a great enchilada sauce, and usually comes out with an almost buttery flavor. I think it's absolutely PERFECT as a topping for huevos rancheros. A pile of crispy hashbrowns topped with eggs over medium with hot corn tortillas. I could eat it breakfast lunch and dinner - no joke. If my kitchen wasn't gutted right now, I'd be pulling a package of my green chile out of the freezer right now, trust me. Oh yeah, you can roast off the chiles and they freeze beautifully.

              Anyway, sorry to ramble on but I love everything about Mexican (and Southwestern) food. Hope your stuff turns out great for you, but if not, you'll have learned a little more, and next time it will come out a little better. You'll be a pro in no time.

              1. re: gordeaux

                I'm guessing that the "slow cook" for the pork is going to take a couple or three hours. So I'm thinking that this is a sauce I'd want to make in quantity, and freeze in smaller portions for future use. It seems like a lot of effort (not that I mind that) for a one-time meal. Is that right?

                Thanks for the nice words of encouragement, gordeaux!

                1. re: CindyJ

                  Exactly right. The effort really comes in roasting / peeling the peppers. The rest is basically just tossing things into a pan. Slow cooking for a few hours is no effort - just gotta be @ home and stir it once in a while / make sure it's not burning.

                  I'd do a small batch first maybe something like 15 peppers, and three onions. Get a feel for it. Maybe you like it, maybe you don't. If you like it, then tweak it out.

                  I'd also suggest delving into moles if you wanna get into REALLY special, flavorful sauces

                  1. re: gordeaux

                    I think I have too much meat for the number of peppers I've got. I have just about 15 peppers, mostly Anaheim and poblano, but there are two longish green ones I couldn't identify, and I threw in a couple of serranos for good measure. They're roasted and they're steaming in a covered bowl right now, getting ready for peeling. I bought pork shoulder for the braise, but I've got over 2 lbs of meat. Maybe I'll braise it, use most for the sauce, and whatever is leftover, I'll use to fill a couple of enchiladas. Should I cube it before browning and braising?

                    1. re: CindyJ

                      "but there are two longish green ones I couldn't identify, and I threw in a couple of serranos for good measure."

                      AWESOME. YOU are someone who knows what they are doing. That is how to work a recipe. Some of this, some of that - THAT is how you make things that YOU like. You GO girl!

                2. re: gordeaux

                  Okay, gordeaux -- I totally trusted your instructions, even though this final braise seems more than a bit strange to me. What you're telling me is that the browned meat gets braised in the green sauce, right? It just didn't seem like any braising medium I've ever used before. But, I feel like I'm in good hands, and so the meat is presently braising in a 325 degree oven in this green chile sauce.

                  The sauce, by the way, was interesting -- tasty, with a nice bite of spice. I know the meat will change the flavor in some way, and I'm eager to find out just how. What makes this fun for me is that I have no idea how it's "supposed" to turn out; I just know it'll be yummy.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    I would normally braise it stovetop - maybe I used the term braise incorrectly - would "stewing" be more appropriate? You wanna keep it "saucy" not sure if the oven will allow too much steam to escape. You can still get it out and throw it on the stove. I'd assume no big deal at all. Sorry for the late response, but I got pages by the isiots at work, and had to log in and fix some of their stupanity. I bet you're doing fine.

                    1. re: gordeaux

                      I think there's a fine distinction between stewing and braising, and either can be done on stovetop or in the oven. For braising, I prefer the oven -- it just seems more reliable to me. I'm using a LeCreuset French oven with a heavy lid, so I'm not afraid of steam escaping. My concern was with the nature of the braising "liquid". I checked on it about 15 minutes ago, and noticed a thin layer of fat on the top of the sauce. I guess I'll have to skim that off? I won't have time to chill it before I use the sauce for the enchiladas, so skimming the fat off the top is my only option.

                      Once the braise is finished (about an hour to go), and the meat is shredded and put back into the sauce, and I have my filling ready, what, exactly, do I need to do to the tortillas before I stuff and roll them?

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        Heat them up a bit in a non stick pan just enough to make them nicely pliable (some tortillas may need a bit of water to get them more pliable); dip in sauce if you like (I don't. I just put in filling - mine are simple rather than braised meat - and a line of sauce) and roll up and place in baking pan seam down. Top with sauce (and cheese as we discussed above) and toss in oven. Easy peasy.

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            I use a just hand rub of water if the tortillas are a bit stiff. A bit of oil instead of water might be an alternative. For enchiladas I use my own homemade tortillas or buy thin pliable ones.

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              I was at the mercy of the Mexican grocery store when I picked up my corn tortillas yesterday. But, based on the abundant supply, I'm assuming they're good and also fresh. They seem fairly pliable.

                              I did browse in the back of the store where they have an eclectic collection of cooking tools, and saw a metal tortilla-maker (I forget what it was called) in a dusty box. I'm intrigued enough to go back and take another look at it.

                              1. re: CindyJ

                                I have a simple press. Have to make my own being here in Colombia. Normally the maize tortillas available in the US are good: fresh, soft, pliable.

                            2. re: CindyJ

                              Cindy, I usually very lightly brush my tortillas with a light oil like canola, and put them on a sheet pan in a 300 oven for a couple of minutes. If you go easy on the oil while brushing, it doesn't make them heavy or greasy but makes them pliable and subtle difference in the final dish.

                              I used to dip them in my tomatillo sauce instead to save calories, but now prefer the oil/warm oven method.

                      2. re: CindyJ

                        In my defense, I wrote:
                        "Brown some kind braise cut pork (bonelss pork stew, shoulder pieces, butt pieces etc - you get the drift)

                        Toss the sauce, and meat into a pot, and slow cook it (covered) until the meat is tender. Take out the meat, and shred/chop it (bite size) and then throw it back in. Squeeze in a little lime juice. You're done"

                        So, it was a braise cut of pork, tossed into a pot and slow cooked, covered.
                        Just covering my but in case it turns out funky, but you know what you're doing here. Meat in sauce. Just different spices, and ingredients. PLease let me know how it turns out. Sorry for any confusion, but it shouldn't be too off.

                        1. re: gordeaux

                          Actually, I think I remember reading somewhere that the difference between a braise and a stew (and I could be wrong about this) is that (1) a stew is done with smaller chunks of meat, while a braise is a large cut (like a pot roast), and (2) a braise is done with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pot, whereas a stew can have any amount of liquid and may be covered or uncovered during the cooking process. So I took your use of the word "braise" literally (as I understood it).

                3. re: CindyJ

                  I'm from Az. and flour tortillas are not used for enchiladas. Corn rules. Also my upbringing dictates that we make Sonoran enchiladas. These are not rolled but stacked. Most often it is done thusly: warm your sauce in a shallow skillet. In another skillet fry corn tortillas and then dip into warmed sauce. Place on a warmed plate. Top with chopped onion and grated cheese. Top with another fried and chili sauced tortilla and repeat with the cheese and chopped onion. When your stack is high enough, about 3 tortillas is good, pop the plate in the oven to heat and melt the cheese. Garnish with chopped ice berg lettuce and to go over the top, my favorite an over easy fried egg. Pure comfort food for me. Sigh! I wish I had traded my steak frites tonight for that.

                4. re: gordeaux

                  An Alabama foodie here defending my honor -- I would NEVER in a million years make enchiladas with flour tortillas. That's a recipe for Mexican goo.

                  1. re: redthong

                    No offense meant to the 'Bamans, but I have had some FUNKY foodstuffs in that neck of the woods. I'm SURE, however, there are plenty of Alabamans that could cook me under the table.

                5. I'll say it again- Corn. ONLY. You'll find different brands available depending on your location. I always just buy whatever feels softest and most pliable in the store- some feel like those rubber disks you buy to move furniture around.

                  As far as filling goes, I like a mild, gooey filling that doesn't compete too much with the sauce. Honestly, I'm usually happy with a mix of corn, green chile, black beans, and cheese. I do also like a Cook's Illustrated rec from a few years ago, in which they cook chicken and onions in tomato sauce, stock, and spices, then strain it, using the solids for filling (mixed with cilantro, cheese, and jalapenos), and the liquid for sauce.

                  I like to make from homemade, but my new 1-hour commute has forced me to find some quicker palatable solutions. I've had good luck with Hatch brand sauce, with a little doctoring.

                  1. In my area I've only seen corn tortillas in one size. They may seem small, but a single serving is usually multiple enchiladas. I like a filling of sour cream, shredded jack and cheddar cheeses, minced onion, and I might toss in some shredded chicken, or not.

                    I make a green chile sauce for my enchiladas. New Mexico chiles are the best but available in my area only in late summer/early fall, so I'll use poblanos, jalapenos, or a combination of whatever I can get at the market . Here is my sauce, freely adapted from Jane Butel:

                    Mix four tablespoons flour with 1/4 cup cold water to make a smooth paste, then combine with 4 cups of chicken stock and blend well in a 2 to 3 quart saucepan. Cook until slightly thickened, then add 1 cup of finely chopped cooked chicken, 1 cup (or more) of choppped green chiles (that you have roasted, seeded, and peeled). Season with plenty of comino (I like comino so I use about a tablespoon or more, you might want to start with a teaspoon), salt to taste, one or two crushed garlic cloves, and simmer together for 15 minutes.

                    To make the filling, in a bowl combine 2 cups sour cream with 1 cup grated Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese, or a combination of the two, and 1 medium onion, very finely chopped.

                    To make the enchiladas, butter a 9x13 casserole. Heat a tortilla on a dry pan for a minute or two, then dip it into the sauce, add a spoonful of the onion-cheese-sour cream mixture, and roll the tortilla up. Place it in the buttered casserole. Continue making the tortillas one at a time, until you've filled up the casserole; 12 tortillas will usually do the trick.

                    Pour the remaining sauce over the tortillas, sprinkle with the rest of the grated cheese, adding more cheese if desired, and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes. These really can't be made ahead, for the tortillas will absorb the sauce and fall apart.

                    You could also make a stacked tortilla by frying the tortillas lightly in an inch of hot oil, placing a spoonful of sauce on a warmed plate, lay a (fried) tortilla on the sauce, spoon over more sauce and add a spoonful of the sour cream-cheese-onion mixture. Continue until you've built a stack of three tortillas on each plate and all the sauce is used. Top each with a generous amount of the sour cream mixture and sprinkle with more grated cheese. Bake in a 400-degree oven to melt the cheese.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: janniecooks

                      Thank you, thank you for your very detailed recipe. A question -- does the sour cream turn "runny" when it's baked with the other ingredients? The combination of chicken, cheese and sour cream sounds great; I was just wondering about the consistency of the filling in the finished product.

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        No, it doesn't get runny, I think the cheese keeps the filling on the firm-ish side.

                        1. re: janniecooks

                          I put cheese and/or homemade yorgurt on the top (after saucing) rather than in the enchiladas themselves.

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            Do you mean as a topping, before they're baked? Or as a garnish, after they come out of the oven?

                            1. re: CindyJ

                              Before baking. My stuffing is the meat, chopped red onion & cilantro, sliced olives, cumin, chile, posibly corn kernels, spritz of lime juice and a bit of the sauce, whatever that is for the day. Then sauce the whole top and top with and combo of grated cheese / torn Oaxaca cheese / yogurt and bake. All pretty simple and really good for the effort needed. You can also top with the cheese / yorgurt a bit before it all comes out if you're making a big, deep dish that requires a lot of time. I just put it all together when making a single layer for a quick liunch. The slight crunch of the cheese is a good thing.

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                Got it! I think I'm about to create a hybrid recipe, culled from many of these suggestions. I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks!

                                1. re: CindyJ

                                  Great! Once you start making enchiladas, there is no going back. They really are easy to make; and you can make them, including the sauce, according to what you have on hand at the time (within reason). And I've never met anyone who didn't just really love them. Yes, please report back!

                    2. I prefer red enchiladas, and it has to be corn tortillas. Here in northern California I have had good luck with Guerrero brand, but would second the comment that you should be able to bend a stack of 12 tortillas. Here is my favorite version. I like to stack them (New Mexico style) for just the 2 of us, because I really like them to be fresh, and if I make a 9X13 tray of rolled enchiladas, I end of with leftovers, which are not as tasty. I tend to make the full recipe of sauce, but assemble and bake only as much as will be eaten in one meal. Sometimes I splurge and soft fry the tortillas (the traditional method) rather than heat them on a griddle. Tastier, but much more fattening. The tomato in red chile sauce is controversial, but I feel that it balances the flavors out better. In the summer, I roast fresh tomatoes as a substitute for the canned tomatoes.

                      Stacked Red Enchiladas

                      8 to 10 large whole red chiles (like anchos, guajillos, or a combination)
                      2 c. boiling water
                      1 T. corn oil
                      1 T. flour
                      1 clove garlic, pressed
                      1/2 t. cumin, ground
                      1/2 t. salt
                      Pinch Mexican oregano
                      1 small can chopped tomatoes, not drained
                      1 canned chipotle, or 1/2 t. dried ground chipotle (optional, but I love it)
                      12 corn tortillas
                      2 c. shredded jack cheese or cooked chicken or turkey, or a combo
                      finely chopped white onion

                      Clean the chiles (I use a damp paper towel). Toast until aromatic but not burned (I usually use a toaster oven set on bake at about 300 F, maybe 5 minutes?). Remove all seeds and stems when cool enough to handle. Place in blender, cover with 2 c. boiling water. Let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Taste the soaking water, if it tastes bitter or acrid, toss and add 1 cup of warm water. If it tastes okay, remove 1 c. of the soaking water, reserve, puree chiles until very smooth. Heat the oil in a skillet, add flour and cumin, stir until slightly brown, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, remove from heat. Add pureed chiles, stir well. Return to a hard simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until it has a nice smell and color. Puree the tomatoes and chipotle in blender. Add to skillet, stir well. Rinse the blender jar with about 1/2 cup of the reserved chile soaking water (if it wasn't bitter) or fresh water. Return to simmer, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the flavors meld. Add salt to taste and oregano, set aside. It should be thick enough to coat a spoon, about the same thickness as canned tomato sauce. Lightly coat 4 dinner plates (oven proof) with enchilada sauce. Heat 4 tortillas one at a time on griddle, dip in sauce, place one on each plate. Sprinkle with cheese or chicken and chopped onion. Repeat with 4 more tortillas, sprinkle with cheese or chicken and onion. Repeat with 4 more tortillas, add a little more sauce, sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 300°F for about 5 - 10 minutes, until bubbly but not dried out. Serve. Can add shredded lettuce, cabbage, sliced green onions, finely chopped white onions, chopped cilantro, or sour cream (or some combination) at the table if you like. Toasted slivered almonds are also tasty.

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: Sharuf

                          Yes, red chile sauce starts with any variety of dried red chiles.

                      1. I've been making enchiladas for many years, and have had great success - even converting some of my friends who thought they didn't like Mexican food! Here's what I do:

                        In a sauce pot, saute a small minced onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Add chili powder, salt and pepper, cumin and hot pepper flakes to taste. Add 3 tablespoons tomato paste. Add 1/2 cup beer or wine and a large can of tomato sauce. Simmer over low heat.

                        Boil chicken parts and shred (or saute ground chicken or beef with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes). Slice black olives and scallions. Rinse and drain 1 can black beans and 1 can corn. Grate 1 lb cheddar cheese.

                        Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add about 2/3 cups veg oil. Lightly fry a corn tortilla (15-20 secs only until it feels like leather) and then dip it in the sauce. Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish and fill with meat, cheese, some scallions, corn, beans and olives. Roll up and lay in the side of the dish. Repeat until dish is full and ingredients are gone. Sprinkle any extra ingredients over the top, the spread with any extra sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 about 25 mins until hot and bubbly. Serve wouth sour cream, cilantro and limes.

                        1. Although I also love enchiladas verde, I prefer pumpkin or winter squash. Recipe pasted below (it's actually for enchilada casserole, which is easier to serve.


                          Pumpkin Enchilada Casserole, liberally adapted from Martha Stewart’s Spicy Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce

                          1-1/2 lbs chicken breast

                          Cream cheese, about 3/4 of container

                          1 bunch of green onions, sliced thinly

                          2-1/2 cups pumpkin puree

                          8-10 cloves of garlic

                          3-4 chiles in adobo

                          1/2 of a small onion

                          8 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, grated

                          9-10 corn tortillas

                          Salt & pepper

                          For the filling: Cut the chicken into strips, put into a saucepan and cover with water. Cook uncovered over medium high heat. As the chicken cooks, use your wooden spoon to break the chicken up further. The ultimate goal is for it to be shredded. Add water to the chicken, if necessary. After chicken is shredded, let most of the water boil off and add the green onions and cream cheese.

                          For the sauce. Place the garlic, chiles in adobo, pumpkin puree and onion in a food processor. Process until mixture forms a puree. Put the puree in a small saucepan and add a glass or two of water to thin the puree. Simmer over low heat.

                          To assemble. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a 9×13 baking dish, add enough sauce to cover the bottom. Add a layer of corn tortillas, overlapping them some. Spread 1/2 of the filling over the corn tortillas, followed by 1/4 of the cheese. Repeat with another corn tortilla layer, filling layer, and cheese layer. Finish with a layer of corn tortillas, followed by enough sauce to very generously cover the top, and the rest of the cheese. You may have some sauce leftover - put it in the freezer for another meal later. Bake about 25-30 minutes. The top should be slightly brown.

                          1. If this turns out to be a repeat of information already given, I apologize, but as I start writing, I may be expanding on some information, but I don’t think I’m repeating anything. I’m about the third of the way through a major master bath remodel, and well, if you’ve ever endured a remodel, enough said. And no you know why I’m a cranky old lady this week!

                            There is a trend, of late, even here in the Dallas area, to use flour tortillas for enchiladas. The lunacy of it is that you don’t end up with an enchilada. You end up with an enchilada flavored stuffed dumpling! Flour tortillas will not hold their shape or texture through a moist cooking process. Do NOT try to make enchiladas with flour tortillas. Well, unless you adore dumplings!

                            Flour tortillas will fry up nice and crisp, and can make interesting tender flaky taco shells for IMMEDIATE consumption. If you try to hold them for a while after they are assembled, they will revert to soft, then start the long slide to dumpling land. Don’t do it, unless you’re ready to eat them immediately. Same with chimichangas.

                            Corn tortillas are available in more than the standard 6 inch size in some parts of the country (a cocktail size being the usual option), but even then you have to know where to shop. If you want a larger corn tortilla, then the most reliable way to get them is to buy yourself a tortilla press and make your own. If you’re incredibly lucky and can find a really old fashioned tortilleria where they don’t use a big whiz-bang machine that stamps out the tortillas, then conveyor cooks them, but instead real people make them by hand (some restaurants do this in the front of the house to attract diners), then you may be able to special order larger corn tortillas.

                            Enchilada recipes? Well, I’ll spell out a couple of my favorites, but no longer being an obsessive compulsive kitchen camper, I hardly ever make enchilada sauce from scratch any more. So these recipes will both be using canned sauce. Of course, you can substitute home made sauce if you like. Here’s the first recipe:

                            Green Chicken Enchiladas, sort of “Suiza”

                            Remove any giblets from a nice plump whole chicken’s cavities and put the chickie in a pan deep enough to cover with water, but not large enough in diameter to let it do the backstroke. Maximum coverage with minimum water is the ideal. Add a large onion cut into wedges, a small tender stalk of celery with leaves attached, about a tablespoon of cumin and 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of chili powder (I use Gebhardt’s) and bring it to a boil. Skim any scum building on top, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the meat falls off the bones. Drain water into another vessel and save it. It’s a great base for tortilla soup!

                            Allow the chicken to cool until you can bone it completely with your bare hands. Make sure you don’t have any of the little bitty bones left in, and be sure you get that long skinny “toothpick” bone out of the legs. As you separate meat from bone, put meat in a mixing bowl. Discard bones, and now shred the chicken with your fingers. Whether you add the skin to the mix is up to you. I like it. With a slotted spoon, remove onion from stock, “mush” it up with a dinner fork and add it to the shredded chicken. Now add 2 or 3 small cans of diced Hatch green chiles to the chicken and stir everything well to mix. Season with salt, pepper is optional. This is your filling for the enchiladas. Set it aside while you prepare the tortillas.

                            Open two cans (well, maybe three, depending on how many enchiladas you plan on making) of GREEN enchilada sauce. The hot will be hot, and the mild may or may not be as mild as you’d like. Always taste so you know what you’re working with. Pour the sauce into a saucepan and add 1 enchilada sauce can of evaporated milk (per two cans of enchilada sauce)/ Heat, stir, and set aside.

                            Heat a medium size frying pan with about a half inch of oil (I use peanut oil) and bring to about 325 to 350F. Fry tortillas one at a time lightly on each side. The goal is to soften them and then cook them enough that they will have some body to them, but not so stiff they won’t roll without breaking. Stack them on a dinner plate as you remove them from the frying pan. I usually do from 24 to 30 enchiladas at a time.

                            Now you’re ready for basic assembly, which will be followed by saucing, topping, and baking. To assemble, first grease or butter a large rectangular baking dish . Or you can bake them in two casseroles and if you don’t need the second one, they freeze just fine.

                            So now you want to line up an empty plate, the bowl of chicken filling right next to it on your “handed” (right or left) side. On the other side, the pan of enchilada sauce and the plate of fried tortillas. Take one tortilla, submerge it in the sauce, remove and put it on the empty plate. Place a fairly generous line of chicken filling across the middle. Roll the tortilla around it. You can make them as thin or as fat as you like, but if you’re going for the “whole meal in one enchilada,” make sure you can roll it enough to close it. Place the enchilada seam side down at the inside edge of the casserole dish and now roll your next enchilada. I line mine up all cozy next to each other until the baking dish is full, and if there is room along the side of the pan when I have the first row finished, I fill it too. On some casserole dishes I do two rows side be side instead of one long row with a few turned sideways along one edge. Up to you. I never stack one layer of enchiladas on top of another. It makes it extremely difficult to serve them and have them still look attractive. And if you have any chicken left over, it makes a great taco filling too.

                            When your enchiladas are all assembled, ladle or spoon the remaining sauce over them. Next sprinkle a layer of grated cheese down the center of the enchilada rows. I go as close to the edges but try not to cover the ends. I like them to get a little crispy while baking, but it’s not required. You can use cheddar or Monterey jack. The pre-shredded Fiesta/Mexican blends are fine. Queso fresca is good too. Cotija is a little dry but the flavor is nice so when I use it I mix it with Monterey jack for moistness. Finally stir about a cup of sour cream until it’s loosened up, then spoon a layer down the very center of each row of enchiladas. If you’d like a little added color, a light sprinkling of chile powder or sweet paprika over the sour cream is nice.

                            Bake in a 325F oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with a tossed green salad and drinks of your choice. And if any are leftover, they’re great fried until they have a brown crispy bottom to them the next morning. If you wish, refried beans and or Mexican rice are nice side dishes.

                            For tortilla soup, if you have any chicken filling left over, toss it in the pot of strained stock, along with some frozen or canned corn, a chopped onion, some canned or fresh tomatoes, and whatever other kinds of vegetables you have on hand that you like. I like to add some chopped fresh cilantro at the last minute. Taste and salt to taste. Bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer until any fresh vegetables are cooked to your liking. Then either add roughly shredded corn tortillas, or you can use tortilla chips, whichever you prefer. Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top and some hot sauce for the fire breathers. Enjoy!

                            This recipe is for stacked enchiladas. This is possibly my most cherished enchilada dish. Lots of childhood memories. The recipe is a family tradition with liberal influence from all of our Mexican friends and neighbors of my childhood. If a touch of creativity overtakes you, go with the flow! They are also the most time consuming way of making enchiladas. I never make them for more than three people. My mother used to make them for a crowd! I thought she was nuts. Here we go:

                            STACKED RED ENCHILADAS

                            Here’s what you’ll need:

                            A can or two of red enchilada sauce, heat intensity of your choice. Heat it up in a saucepan and if it needs a bit of olive oil or garlic powder (or fresh garlic) or a touch of cilantro, go for it. Fine tune the sauce to your liking.

                            3 tortillas per serving, and a medium hot frying pan with some oil in it at the ready.

                            Optional: Refried beans. I use canned, then doctor them by sautéing some chopped onions until lightly browned in a generous amount of oil (olive is good, but so is vegetable oil or bacon grease if you’re cholesterol proof). Add the can(s) of refried beans and stir until oil is absorbed and they are bubbling. Season with cumin, chile powder and (if needed) salt to taste.

                            Meat filling, either the chicken filling as above, or crumbled ground beef seasoned with cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt and cilantro. You can also boil part (or all) of a brisket using the same procedure as for the chicken given above, then when it is cooked to falling apart, shred it with a fork. (Also a great taco filling.)

                            Grated cheese. Any of the cheeses or cheese mixtures mentioned for the chicken enchiladas, except for this you can use cotija all by itself if you’d like.

                            A chiffonade of lettuce. For a chiffonade, cut a head of iceberg lettuce in half, lay half of it cut side down, then with your chef’s knife or a santoku, slice it into thin shreds. Probably half a head of lettuce will do ya, and then some.

                            Diced tomatoes, or a tomato concasse if you like.

                            Optional: Finely diced onions

                            Optional: Diced avocados

                            Well mixed sour cream, warmed.

                            Optional (but it should be mandatory) 1 fried egg sunny side up with runny yolk per serving.

                            ASSEMBLY: Lightly brown a tortilla until it has texture but is not crisp, Dip tortilla in enchilada sauce and lay it flat on a dinner plate. Top tortilla with a thin layer of refried beans (optional), a layer of meat filling of your choice, a sprinkling of cheese, sprinkling of onions, a skimpy layer of lettuce chiffonade, tomatoes, avocados, and top with a little enchilada sauce. Repeat with a second tortilla and fillings as above. Top with third and final tortilla and spoon on some enchilada sauce. Top with some warmed sour cream. Settle a fried egg on top of the sour cream. Spoon on a little more enchilada sauce for color and serve.

                            Keep making plates full of stacked enchiladas and pass them out until every body is full and happy. Ole!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Caroline1

                              WOW! Thanks, Caroline! A question -- have you ever used cooked rotisserie chicken in your chicken filling? I'm thinking that one or two of those, purchased at the supermarket, could save quite a bit of time and work.

                              1. re: CindyJ

                                The problem would be a much drier result. By boiling the chicken with the onion and seasonings, the meat is flavored through and very moist. It also absorbs the flavor of the chopped chiles when you put it together. It's really not nearly as much work as it sounds when you read the recipe. And if you don't like getting your hands in, you can wear rubber gloves.

                                Maybe you're a LOT luckier than I am. In my area, rotisserie chickens vary widely, from "ho hum" to "yuck!" And they're dry. But if you can find moist, then in addition to adding the chiles to the shredded meat, add some cumin and chile powder too. Good luck!

                            2. There are lots of serious recipes here; let me contribute my very simple one, using largely store-bought ingredients. I've even made this with supermarket rotisserie chicken, and nobody complained at all. The resulting enchiladas are more like a sort of lasagna than individual pieces, but we like'em that way. The canned chiles, if used, should be Ortega or Hatch brand. I also like to have extra chopped scallion along with the cheese topping.

                              Chicken Enchiladas (Enchiladas Suizas)

                              3 cups shredded cooked chicken
                              12 oz. chicken broth
                              4 oz. can green chiles, chopped (observe: NOT 1 can chopped green chiles!)
                              4-6 scallions, chopped fine (incl. green)
                              1 Tbs butter
                              1 Tbs flour
                              8 oz. sour cream
                              chopped fresh cilantro to taste
                              1 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
                              12 corn tortillas
                              enchilada sauce (yours or someone else's), salt, pepper

                              Melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour. Whisk in broth, continue stirring over med. heat until smooth and fairly thick. Still stirring, add chiles, chicken, scallions, cilantro and sour cream. When all ingredients are heated through, stir in 1/2 cup of the grated cheese until it's melted and blended in. Salt and pepper to taste; set aside on warming tray.
                              Heat tortillas one by one on a dry griddle over high flame, about ten seconds per side. Stack between sheets of waxed paper; keep warm.
                              Preheat oven to 350º, and heat enchilada sauce to just short of boiling. Brush a tortilla on both sides with sauce, then scoop up about 2 Tbs of the filling mixture with a slotted spoon and place in center of tortilla. Roll up and put into 9x12" baking pan. Repeat with the other tortillas. When they're all assembled, pour over remaining cream sauce etc. and top with the rest of the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Let sit for ten minutes before serving.

                              1. I'm sure what I make can't really be considered enchiladas, but we consider them delicious nonetheless.

                                To summarize, I cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a couple of big chunks and sprinkle them with a low-sodium taco seasoning. Then, I actually cook them in salsa. First, I often slice up onions and saute them for a bit in the pan, sometimes peppers too...then dump the chicken and the salsa in with it. I typically add water so the chicken has enough liquid around it to cook. I also use this as my "enchilada sauce" over the top, so I want to make sure I have enough. I cover the pot and cook it on a medium-high heat. After the chicken cooks, I pull / shred it and place it in the tortillas with a bit of cheddar and some of the leftover sauce from cooking. I add nothing else to them. Then I pour the remainder of the salsa mixture over the enchiladas, put cheddar cheese on top, and bake.

                                1. Okay, for anyone who might be interested, here's the "post mortem." The enchiladas were good -- but unlike anything I've ever had on a plate in front of me. The enchilada sauce was definitely tasty. After that long braise (the oven braise worked beautifully, gordeaux), the meat was cooked to perfection and shredded beautifully. I put ALL of the meat back into the sauce. It was kind of like a Mexican Bolognese (I think I've just created a new oxymoron!). It was thick -- thicker, probably, than an enchilada sauce ought to be -- but very tasty.

                                  I really made a culinary mess of the enchiladas. I used two fillings -- chicken with beans and corn (thanks for the corn suggestion, Sam), and cheese with onions. Okay, okay, so I need to think about my enchilada pairings a little more, but each was tasty in its own right. But I became a little overzealous with those small tortillas and stuffed them more than they should have been stuffed. As you can imagine, they did not end up as neat little rolls, but more like filling covered with tortillas. No matter, the tortillas were covered with sauce, and topped with cheese, covered, and baked for about 25 minutes. They were bubbling hot out of the oven, and, despite their appearance on the plate (I get an "F" for presentation), they were quite delicious. I had sour cream, sliced scallions and sliced serrano peppers for garnish. I served them with a green salad, and it turned out to be a nice supper for a cold winter's evening.

                                  The toughest part of this exercise for me was being clueless about how they were supposed to turn out. I knew what they should have LOOKED like (after all, I've been to ChiChi's, so I'm not exactly an enchilada virgin), but I had no idea about what kind of taste or consistencyI was striving for. It was a fun day and evening in the kitchen, though.

                                  Will I try enchiladas again...? Probably. But I have a feeling that my next attempt will be a whole new experiment, maybe with a red sauce, instead.

                                  Thanks for all of your input. I read and considered EVERY suggestion!

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                    Thanks for sharing the news. And always remember, ANY meal that tastes good is a success...! '-)

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      Thanks, Caroline ... I think sometimes I need to be reminded of that notion. :)

                                    2. re: CindyJ

                                      Wonderful! Do try again. And you can make them as simple or as complex as you like.

                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        Yes, I can see how improv in the Mexican kitchen is no different from any other, once one has an understanding of what the cuisine is all about.

                                      2. re: CindyJ

                                        Hi Cindy - It's all about having fun with the flavors! Sometimes the pretty dishes have no fun. If you're looking to try a red sauce recipe next time, here's a link for my favorite fire roasted chicken enchiladas with a homemade red sauce. They include roasted onions and poblanos along wtih shredded chicken and monterrey jack and are really delicious.

                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                          Sounds like you did fine for first trial - especially if they were good.
                                          "stacked" enchiladas are far easier, and not as time consuming.
                                          Overstuffing is hard not to do, but now you know. Like I said upthread, you make a mistake, and you learn from it. Usually about 1/3 of my batches wind up with split tops on em.

                                          I'd suggest, if you like eggs, to use that green chile on a pile of has browns, fried eggs, and a few pan heated corn tortillas. Normally I make the hash browns first, nice and crispy, set them aside. Heat up three or four corn tortillas, with a little bit of oil. Heat them until they are barely crispy, but still very pliable. put the tortillas on the plate, cover them with hash browns. fry up the eggs. Once you flip the eggs, pour on the green chile (right in the pan) once everything is hot, juts pour the contents of the pan on top of your plated tortillas and hash browns. THAT'S A MOUTHWATERING MEAL. Easily top ten of my all time favorite meals. I usually have to struggle to eat it with a fork. I do it more like Indian food - tear off a piece of tortilla, and pinch up some egg/ hashbrown/ and sauce, and shovel it in. There'something really special about hot corn tortillas with a good sauce, and this is about as good as it gets for me.

                                          Glad you did well, and you liked it. Always fun to create something new and delicious, and learn a little more.

                                        2. Here is a recipe that is adapted from Cristina Ferrara:

                                          Chicken Enchiladas

                                          These chicken enchiladas make a great family meal—and they're simple to make!


                                          16 ounce bottle or can enchilada sauce
                                          6 corn tortillas
                                          1 jar salsa
                                          2 cans refried beans
                                          1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
                                          1/4 cup shredded sharp Monterey Jack cheese
                                          1/2 cup sour cream
                                          1/4 cup olives , pitted
                                          1 jalapeño , chopped and seeded

                                          2 cups of shredded chicken meat (I use Costco's Rotisserie)

                                          Heat oven to 400°.

                                          Pour the can of enchilada sauce into a pie dish. Dip tortillas in the sauce to soften them, quickly take them out.

                                          Gently spread 2 T. refried beans on one side of each tortilla. Add enough diced Roasted Chicken to cover the beans. Sprinkle with cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. Add olives, chopped jalapeño and salsa (optional).

                                          Roll up the tortillas and place seam-side down in a 9" x 13" baking dish.

                                          Blend the sour cream into the remaining enchilada sauce in the pie dish. Pour over enchiladas and sprinkle remaining cheese.

                                          Cover and bake for 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.