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Beef Enchiladas Suizas in Red Sauce

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I'm looking to replicate a beef enchiladas suizas in red sauce recipe similar to what I've had at some Chicago-area restaurants. The ones I had were rolled, not stacked, and not that spicy. I would prefer not to use canned chilies if possible. (We have fresh poblanos, serranos, and jalapenos, and just about any kind of dried Mexican chilies available around here.) I went through some past discussion threads and came across some very useful information. I could probably piece together a recipe, but I still feel like I'm still guessing. It seems enchiladas vary greatly from person to person or by region. Would anybody have a complete recipe recommendation? Thanks in advance.

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  1. The "suiza" in enchiladas usually includes a creamy white or bechamel sauce plus strong accents of tomatillo and jalapeno to pair with the chicken filling. I think the type of enchilada you are looking to create may have a different name?
    Do you want a tomato base for your chilies? You could also roast and puree them and blend them into a cream sauce, along the lines of my poblano soup. You can go in a lot of tasty directions.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      Recently on CreateTV Sara Moulton had a guest Mexican chef, who make enchiladas suizas using:
      - precooked chicken filling
      - a sauce made from salsa verde (the canned tomatillo and serano chile sauce), cream, and a few roasted poblanos. The sauce was processed in the blender, and then warmed on the stove, before pouring over the rolled tortillas.
      http://saramoulton.com/2010/09/swiss-...

      1. re: paulj

        That's the classic. I think the OP should leave "suiza" out of the name if the objective is a beef enchilada in a red chili sauce.

        1. re: Veggo

          Yep. "Beef," "suiza," and "red sauce" are pretty much antithetical in my book. But, hey, we're talking about Chicago not Chihuahua here. For all we know they're making brat carnitas up there in the "hog butcher to the world."

          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            @Perilagu Khan: It's no wonder I was confused. With a very strong Hispanic population in Chicago, I'm surprised the terminology got so twisted.

          2. re: Veggo

            For some people, adding a drizzle of crema (or melted cheese) over the whole thing makes it 'suiza'.

          3. re: paulj

            Thanks paulj! I will definitely try that one out sometime.

          4. re: Veggo

            Thank you Veggo! A roasted tomato and chili sauce Iike the one you are describing sounds great. (And I love poblano soup. I'll have to check that out!).

            I'm starting to understand why I was confused about the name. It should be called beef enchilada with salsa roja. Mine had white cheese on top for sure.

          5. Yup. I'll jump in here and add to the consensus that I have never never never never heard of BEEF enchiladas SUIZA with RED sauce in all of my 77 years on this planet. By definition, enchiladas suiza are filled with chicken, have a green sauce with sour cream or maybe a green chile/tomatillo bechamel or a variant of such, and in extreme and esoteric cases may even include some Swiss cheese! Imagine that! But never salsa roja. On the other hand, I have never had Mexican food in Chicago... Who knows what sins may be done there! '-)

            I SUSPECT what you are looking for is a shredded beef enchilada with salsa roja. I use brisket, or a half brisket if I'm not feeding a crowd. NON-seasoned brisket! If it's exceptionally fatty, trim he fat. Place it in a large pot with a lid in water to cover plus about an inch. Toss in a couple of onions quartered, five or six cloves of garlic unpeeled, a tablespoon or so of cumin and several tablespoons of good chile powder such as Gebhardt's. Or you can spend more money and time finding dried chiles of varieties you prefer and add a couple of those, but the Gebhardt's works just fine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for at least 3 hours. The omission of salt is intentional as salt draws moisture out of things, even when in a brine, and we want this meat to be juicy, so no salt while simmering. Remove brisket to a platter and allow to cool a bit, then shred it with a couple of forks. It should pull in to long threads quite easily. Put this meat in a large bowl and add a can of peeled diced "Hatch" chiles and the onions from the broth you cooked the meat in. Break the onions up and stir the mixture together. Taste and add salt if needed. This is the filling for your enchiladas.

            Next you need your red sauce, a frying pan with a bit of oil in it, and a flock of tortillas, the nubmer to be determined by how many people you'll be feeding. I'm not including a recipe for the salsa roja because Google turned up a plethora of good recipes, and there are also canned red enchilada sauces that are not bad. Your choice.

            So now take your tortillas and fry them to a point of flexibility in hot oil. Crispy tostadas are NOT the goal! Just pliable tortillas. The very old fashioned traditional method for making enchiladas is to first dip the tortillas in the red sauce, THEN fry in hot oil. The spatter and mess in incredible, so if you don't have an outdoor kitchen that can be hosed down easily, do it the modern backward way and fry your tortillas first, stack them as they come out of the hot fat to keep them warm, then dip them individually into the red sauce, put the tortilla on a dinner plate, place some of the beef filling on it and roll, then place seam side down in a large casserole dish. Repeat until the dish is filled. Some people fill the casserole with enchiladas stacked two deep. I do not. I think they turn out mushy. I do a single layer, then ladle extra sauce over them and dust liberally with cheese before baking in a hot oven. My personal preference is to go heavy with the sauce in the middle of the enchiladas but light on the ends so they get really crispy while baking, but hey, that's just me. Many people add a generous dollop of sour cream to the enchiladas when they are served.

            I could be wrong, but I think this is closer to what you're looking for than enchiladas suiza. If not, then on with your quest and good luck!

            7 Replies
            1. re: Caroline1

              Hi Caroline, Thank you so much for the detailed information! Beef enchiladas with salsa roja is what I am looking for. In fact, I have never had enchiladas with brisket so you opened up a new filling possibility for me. I think the menus I've seen in Chicago say "enchiladas suizas" and they let you choose the type of meat (chicken or beef) and sauce (red or verde). And when I chose beef it came with ground beef. I am definitely going to try your method with the brisket. I will Google a red sauce per your recommendation and see if I can find one that will not be too hot. I like your way of rolling them only one deep too. Again thanks so much!

              1. re: Caroline1

                >>"By definition, enchiladas suiza are filled with chicken, have a green sauce with sour cream or maybe a green chile/tomatillo bechamel or a variant of such"<<

                While what you've described is certainly the most common version of enchiladas suizas we see in the US, that doesn't mean it's the only version. According to Rick Bayless the dish was invented at Sanborn's in Mexico City, and originally had a red sauce - one that was based on tomatoes rather than tomatillos. And there are plenty of versions out there that use fillings other than chicken. Using Bayless as an example again, he has a recipe for enchiladas suizas de verdures asadas - Swiss enchiladas with roasted vegetables.

                If you look at various dictionaries, enchiladas suizas are, by definition, enchiladas made with dairy (the Swiss founded the dairy industry in Mexico). The version we're all most familiar with has sour cream or crema worked into the sauce, but some versions apparently have crema drizzled over the top instead. Which might be exactly what the OP had.

                Come to think of it, a standard red chile sauce enriched with a little crema might actually be pretty good...

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  Interesting, Alan. Do you think it could be a regional thing? I've had beef enchiladas with salsa roja and crema many times, especially in California, but I've never heard it called "suiza." Live and learn! '-)

                2. re: Caroline1

                  Conscience has driven me back to respond to my own post! *IF* you decide to give my enchiladas roja a try, DO NOT THROW OUT THE STOCK THE BEEF IS COOKED IN!!! Just add a good variety of vegetables, maybe even some pasole/hominy, and a bit of the beef (you don't need it ALL for the enchiladas, do you?) and you have a great soup! My bad for not saying so the first time.

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    I love your idea of doing double duty and making soup with the broth.

                    1. re: MichaelBeyer

                      Thank you. First course and second course all out of the same pot! '-)

                  2. re: Caroline1

                    Without going into detail... The red sauce question is perilous- there are many really bad recipes out there- probably the preponderance- and canned is a poor alternative. I too got annoyed by the spatter when "frying"(a misleading term- you're just gently heating, and don't really need oil in a nonstick pan) the tortillas- I now brush them with with sauce on one side and keep that side up, using it for the inside of the enchilada. There are infinity fillings possible- I usually wing it to a considerable extent- but usually incorporate some of the sauce.

                  3. Never heard of red enchiladas suizas, but a quick Google search brings up a menu from Chicagoland that describes 'em. They sound like regular enchiladas rojas topped with sour cream and guacamole: http://www.fernandezfoods.com/lahacie...

                    Unfortunately that doesn't help much. There are so many red enchilada recipes that you'll need to get more specific about regional origin, flavor profile, etc. before you can start hoping to duplicate the stuff you've had. But if you're just looking for a place to start, you can't go wrong with Diana Kennedy or Rick Bayless. Lots of recipes out there.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      @alanbarnes
                      YES--At least it confirms that I'm not going crazy (yet):

                      ENCHILADAS SUIZAS
                      Three corn tortillas dipped in a special red sauce, rolled and filled with your choice of cheese, chicken or beef. Then covered with melted Mexican cheese, sour cream and guacamole.

                      I'll research Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy's versions. Great tip!

                      Thank you!

                    2. As you can see from the above comments there is some confusion with the name of the dish
                      as is used in Chicago.
                      Here is how I make beef enchiladas.
                      1 braze beef shoulder with an onion several bay leaves, garlic and black pepper until it will
                      shred easily. Long time unless you pressure cook it.
                      2 Make red chilli sauce by frying 1/4cup white flour in an equal quantity of oil until it is the color of
                      a pecan. Add several cloves of garlic at the last minute and as soon as it is golden add water or broth, oregano, cumin to taste, red chilli to taste and stir like crazy since it will want to turn to cement. Keep adding liquid until it is the consistency of gravy. salt to taste. Keep hot.
                      3 Shred beef,place on tortilla, smother with sauce, the more the better and roll up, when all are made smother with lots more sauce, sprinkle cheese on top and broil a few minutes.
                      4 this dish is frequently served with rice and beans.
                      5 If you would like to use dried chillis, boil 5 or 6 California or pasillas or whatever kind or a
                      mix for 20 minutes, blend up and add with the liquid.
                      The addition of cheese to these enchiladas would cause Pancho Villa to turn in his grave but
                      after all we are gringos................

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: paul balbin

                        Cheese on Mexican dishes is fine, but it should be the right cheese. :)

                        Neon American or Cheddar is a north-of-the-border degradation. A sprinkling of crumbly white cheese is quite Mexican, whether it is a fresh one or dry aged cotija.

                        1. re: paulj

                          You are perfectly correct. Any anejo would be puro Mexicano and Pancho Villa would smile.
                          I had anejo on my mind and I am sorry I did not specify that. Thanks for the help.
                          Pablito el gordito

                        2. re: paul balbin

                          Thanks Paul for the detailed information. Very helpful!

                        3. If one searches hard enough, one can always find a few deviations from the standard. It's a large planet.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            Would you consider the original version of the dish a "deviation"?

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              Of course not. But an ancient deviation has become the standard.

                              Likewise, Texas chili may well have originally contained beans as an extender, but beanless chili has been the standard for so many decades that the original recipe (if indeed it contained beans) is primarily of interest to antiquarians and food historians, not the chilihead crowd.

                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                "deviant" enchiladas in Chicago should come as no surprise. That's where they dump everything in a jar in a fridge on a poor little hot dog and call it a Chicago dog :)
                                Maybe my chili in Texas was deviant, also. I had a nearly endless supply of venison chili. Cheese and onions, no beans. Hard to go back to beef.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Deer meat much mo better than beef. Was the best aspect of 2 years in the north country of NYS.

                          2. Did you get a recipe? These were from Pepe's Mexican Restaurant. The inside was a ground taco meat made with cumino. The corn tortillas were heated in oil or lard and filled with the meat. The red enchilada sauce was over the top and the "suiza" was actually melted orange and white cheese.