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Las Palmas Enchilada Sauce - WTH??

So last night I make my usual enchiladas. I've been making them since I was a kid and I'm 40. I noticed some people on here recommended Las Palmas. So that's what I used. OMG, the entire dish s*cked!!!!! My tortillas completely disintegrated. I'm ready to toss the entire pan and make again tonight.

I should have known better when I saw how watery the "sauce" was. Is there some kind of trick ?

I quit drinking 7 months ago and I seem to have lost my mojo for cooking and being in my kitchen altogether. I wonder if that's why my enchiladas s*cked. : (

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  1. I'm interested in the responses. Sorry to hear about your enchiladas, of course, but I've had to quit enjoying my wine and have found the cooking and creating in the kitchen has lost it's luster for me as well.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Ikkeikea

      Really? I'm glad to hear I'm not alone with regard to cooking losing it's luster. I LOVED cooking before and am bummed at my loss of desire to even be in the kitchen.

      1. re: Lawgyrl

        I'm with you but, I attribute it to old age. Prep is too physically demanding for me these days. I much prefer "heat 'n' eat".

        1. re: mucho gordo

          Well, I do turn 40 in 2 weeks - I consider that old age. LOL. Thanks.

          1. re: Lawgyrl

            I can't remember that far back. My youngest son is older.

            1. re: mucho gordo

              oh my you are old. Just joking!!!!!!!! We all age, you can't avoid it. Unless you make a deal with the devil, which is not an option for me.

    2. What kind of sauce were you using before? How did you use the sauce this time? Corn tortillas?

      1 Reply
      1. re: paulj

        I've always used Old El Paso. I used the sauce same as always, poured over the top of the rolled corn tortillas. I always lightly fry my tortillas before rolling.

      2. Which Las Palmas Enchilada sauce did you use?

        I only use their green enchilda sauce as I am not fond of the flavor of the red sauce they make. At all.
        Their green enchilada sauce is quite acccptable for it's price point but no where near the quality of Hatch brand.

        For red enchilada sauce i only use Hatch brand, or buy a large container from one of the local good quality Mexican restaurants or make my own.

        The canned green sauces tend to be very close for most. The red sauces are all over teh map quality and taste wise I have found.

        4 Replies
        1. re: jjjrfoodie

          Sorry, I didn't specify. I used the red enchilada sauce.

          I loved the flavor of the sauce, hugely disliked the watery consistency and the resulting mush tortillas. I always use canned sauce as enchiladas are my super quick go to dinner.

          1. re: Lawgyrl

            Did you heat the sauce up first before you dipped the fried in oil shells before rolling or was the sauce cold?

            In order to not decintegrate for me, I have found the sauce has to be cooked to a simmer and then let to cool a little, and the corn tortilla need to be slightly fried on both sides just a bit in a skillet in oil (just a little bit per tortilla) to act as a barrier from teh mooisture of the sauce.

            If you like teh sauce flavor, then I'd just toss it in a pan and reduce it down to the consistancy you like (or is needed) and try it again. Since I also heat my canned sauces up before using, I've never had a problem as you just cook them to the right point (and they tasted better as the spices have been activated by teh heat) and go from there.

            Enchilada's can be a bit of work, but sussing out a debacle should be easy.

            1. re: jjjrfoodie

              I did fry my tortillas. Did not warm up sauce. I've never had to do taht before. Usually, I just fry tortillas, roll with cheese/onions/chicken, then pour sauce, cheese, onions, olives on top - then bake. I did like the taste, but not enough to go thru even more work just to make the dish come out ok. Like I said, it's my quickie go to dinner.

              1. re: Lawgyrl

                I usually fry the tortillas, dip in the sauce, then roll. I don't use much, if any, to pour over the top. I find they always come out too mushy, wet when I do that. It's really not that much more work. They go from the bit of oil (I just use a little on a griddle), onto a pie plate with the sauce, then onto a dinner plate to fill and roll.

        2. I've used Las Palmas without any problems.

          What I do is fry the tortillas in lard to soften, dip the softened corn tortillas in the enchilada sauce, fill and roll. Any extra sauce I just pour on top of the rolled tortillas.

          Disintergrated tortillas imply too much liquid... did you cover the enchiladas in the oven? What was your filling?

          2 Replies
          1. re: dave_c

            Same as Dave - I dip the tortillas in hot oil to soften, then dip them in the enchilada sauce. I've never had them disinergrate. Soften, yes, but thats how i want them to be.

            1. re: dave_c

              Nope, did not cover. Usually I get a yummy crispy cheesy top. I didn't dip tortillas, but poured sauce on top --- works fine with thicker sauces, not so with this stuff! Filling was just cheese/onion.

            2. Compare the ingredients of Old El Paso (General Mills) and Las Palmas

              Old El Paso
              1/4c 20 cal - water, tomato puree, modified corn starch, less than 2% of salt, sugar, vinegar, chile pepper ....

              Las Palmas
              1/4c 15 cal - water, dried red chiles, salt ....

              The El Paso is a starch thickened tomato sauce with some chile seasoning. Las Palmas is rehydrated chile peppers. Similar salt levels. Without the corn starch, I can see why you think Las Palmas is 'watery'. How does it compare in flavor? You could, of course, modify it's consistency, either with a roux (and maybe some diced sauteed onion and garlic), or corn starch slurry.

              Or use Las Palmas in different way - dip the tortillas briefly in the sauce before assembly, and then after assembly just add enough sauce to moisten the enchiladas, but not drown them.

              3 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                Actually paulj, the Las Palmas red enchilada sauce is the following ingredients per their web site:

                Water, dried red chiles, salt, cottonseed oil,cider vinegar, garlic powder, spice, fumaric acid, olive oil.

                BUT, as you point out, no modified corn starch or thickening agent thus a thinner product.

                1. re: jjjrfoodie

                  I meant to include the etc dots, focusing on the main items that make a difference in consistency.

                2. re: paulj

                  Well, yeah, watery is what you get when you combine water, chiles and salt. It's not exactly thick. I like saucy enchiladas, so I think this sauce is probably not for me. Unless I doctor it up, or go thru even more steps like dipping each tortilla. Which totally takes away from my quickie dinner.

                3. it is noted that OP never stated corn or flour tortillas. (enchiladas must be made with corn tortillas)

                  Like the other posters here, I have used Las Palmas enchilada sauce (red and green) with success for many many years.

                  21 Replies
                  1. re: laliz

                    Actually I noted early on (see my response 5 hours ago to paulj) that I used corn tortillas. I mistakenly assumed corn was what everyone was using.

                    1. re: Lawgyrl

                      Ahh, welcome to Chowhound. We're, er, passionate. (And yeah, snark is a major ingredient.)

                      Any chance you used a different brand of tortillas?

                      1. re: shanagain

                        I did. But I never use the same brand, just whatever looks good. I still think the consistency of Las Palmas messed me up, due to my method. I'm trying again this weekend as I loved the taste. Do you think it'd be worth it to try to thicken the sauce via a rue with flour/masa/cornstarch?

                        1. re: Lawgyrl

                          I'd say if you like the flavor, absolutely. Or pour with a little lighter hand, maybe?

                          Also, seriously, it could be the tortillas - there are some that just disintegrate, no matter what you do. I actually had to take a picture of the brand I like so that I don't forget. (Being in your 40's has its drawbacks.)

                          ETA: Welcome!

                          1. re: shanagain

                            What brand do you use? I used Guerrero. I LOVE their flour tortillas, but I don't think I'm a fan of using their corn tortillas in my enchiladas. I think they are white corn too, which seemed a bit more soft than the yellow corn.

                            1. re: Lawgyrl

                              Guerrero does have the best tortilla. Mission brand is way too thick. As for sauce, I get confused between the Las Palmas and La Victoria which I use for my burritos. Tried Hatch brand and didn't like it. We use a hot sauce.

                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                Well, I like Guerrero for the flour - I'm not so sure about their corn for the enchiladas. Now, if you are talking burritos, I'm from the southwest portion of the USA and we have all kinds of delicious sauce!!

                                1. re: Lawgyrl

                                  Burritos are exactly what I'm talkin' about. There are few things better than a good one. Beats a burger any day.

                        2. re: shanagain

                          Snarky didn't used to be a major ingredient.
                          Kind of sad, really.
                          As far as canned sauce,
                          Hatch is a whole level above.

                          1. re: bbqboy

                            What are the ingredients of the Hatch sauce? What's its consistency?

                            1. re: paulj

                              I can only find ingredients for the green Hatch sauce

                              Water, Flame Roasted Green Chiles, Modified Corn Starch, Soybean Oil, Salt, Sugar, Diced Jalapeno Peppers, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Corn Syrup Solids, Onion Powder, Spices, Citric Acid, Garlic Powder, Acetic Acid, Natural Flavors, Green Peppers."

                              With the modified corn starch, and other ingredients, I suspect it will be more like the Old El Paso sauce.

                              Hatch red:
                              Ingredients: Water Wheat Flour Red Chile Powder Vinegar Salt Soybean Oil Spices. ~

                              Again, a thickened sauce.

                              In another enchilada sauce thread I reviewed the variety of sauces in one of Diana Kennedy's books. Most used some sort of chile puree (from fresh or dried) that is briefly 'fried' with onions and garlic. A roux or other thickener is not common. But that is an (old) Mexico style of enchilada, not New Mexico or TexMex.

                              1. re: paulj

                                You know, just looking at Hatch's ingredients makes me think that might be more suitable to me. I didn't like the additives in Old El Paso. The less ingredients typically the better for you IMHO, not that enchiladas are super healthy. LOL. Thanks so much!

                                p.s. - Not familiar with Diana Kennedy. But am now interested.

                            2. re: bbqboy

                              Not snarky, just tried to help. And guess what, y'all are coming to the same conclusion. Watery sauce, poured with a heavy hand over the top (instead of dipping the tortillas) will make for mushy enchiladas.

                              1. re: wyogal

                                My comment wasn't directed to you personally, WG. Just an observation that the tone has gotten more acidic on CH over the years, more so
                                in the last one especially. Perhaps the times we live in.
                                Don't have a can of Hatch in front of me to look at the ingredient list, but I would describe it as thicker and velvety.

                                1. re: bbqboy

                                  Alright, you had me at "velvety". And, I'm thinking this go around, I won't bother rolling them and I'll use the yellow corn as those seem sturdier. Wish me luck!

                                2. re: wyogal

                                  This is helpful, seriously? "When you pour a watery sauce over enchiladas, it will be mushy." If you really were trying to help in that comment, then thanks.

                                3. re: bbqboy

                                  I saw Hatch! Is it thick? Or thicker?

                                  As part of my sobriety, I'm learning how to deal with snarkiness and not take it on such a personal level. I also understand that the logistics of the internet sometimes leave impressions not meant by the poster.

                                  1. re: Lawgyrl

                                    I certainly did not intend to be snarky and I apologize.

                                    1. re: laliz

                                      laliz: I didn't feel you were snarky. Most comments on this thread offered practical, hands on advice. Thanks.

                            3. Hi Lawgyrl,
                              just stumbled across this thread and thought I'd put my 2 cents in.
                              I think yr problem was definitely result of the crap sauce and not of the recent changes in your life.
                              If las palmas is more watery than old el paso, it must be pretty bad. IMHO Old el paso is already much too thin. One thing I have done is to doctor the sauce.
                              Mince one small onion, fry in a bit of oil for a few minutes, add a tsp flour and mix( it wont clump bc of the oil) slowly integrate a few splashes of your store-bought enchilada sauce plus a few tbsp tomato paste. Whiz with a drink mixer(or toss in the blender) to quickly puree the onions. Put back on the heat and stir in the rest of your store bought sauce. If you have some mexican hot sauce on hand(ie cholula, valentina, el yucateco) toss some of that in while you wait for it to come to a simmer. If you like things hot use a generous quantity. While waiting, also add salt and/or a pinch of sugar if desired, black pepper optional, and simmer until thickened. Presto. Awesome enchilada sauce with very little effort. It should still be of a pouring consistency, but thicker, meaning it's not likely to turn your enchiladas mushy, plus it tastes so much better. This whole process, from the peeling of the onion to the finished sauce probably takes 10 minutes or less.
                              But if that's still a little more extra time than you want things to take I have 2 other suggestions.
                              1) try thickening up yr store bought sauce with a little corn starch. Do this in a small teacup or something, with the cornstarch and just a few tbsp of the sauce. That way you can easily mash up all the lumps and make sure its smooth mixture before adding to the rest of the sauce. If the mixture turns out thick or pasty, be sure water it down with more sauce until flowing/runny before adding it to the rest of the sauce and heating to thicken.
                              2)I know you've mentioned you don't dunk your tortillas in sauce before rolling them up, just pour over top. One thing you might try is delaying the pouring on of the sauce. You could pour just a very thin layer of sauce in the pan before filling with tortillas, lightly oil the tops of the tortillas and then put them in the oven without pouring on the sauce yet. Bake until edges of tortillas are just starting to get light golden, then pour on the sauce (and sprinkle with cheese if desired) return to oven and bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese melted. I did this delayed sauce pouring method when making flour tortilla enchiladas yesterday to keep them from getting gooey/gluey,and it worked like a charm.
                              Happy cooking, good luck.
                              And don't lose hope in your cooking mojo, I think it will come back to you like riding a bicycle.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Gracemama

                                Here in the States we use canned cream of ... soup if we want a thick sauce. :)

                                Mexicans certainly know about corn starch as a thickener. For example Maizena sells packets of flavored corn starch for use as quick atole, and corn masa has traditionally been used to make champurado. But enchilada recipes that I looked at in D Kennedy's book don't use a thickener. If they have some body it's because of the pureed vegetables (chiles, tomato, onion, etc). I would argue that Las Palmas is a more authentic style than Old El Paso, since its base is chiles, not tomatoes and starch.

                                But ultimately, what matters is what works for you and your tastes - even if means using flour tortillas. :)

                                1. re: paulj

                                  Sorry, didn't mean to offend. You could certainly be right about Las Palmas being more authentic than OEP. I've never tried it, but I have tried OEP and not loved it. Personally, I think homemade sauce is the best way to go, but it can be involved, and lawgyrl has mentioned wanting to be able to throw together an enchilada dinner in a snap. That's why I tried to suggest a couple quick ways she might make her store-bought sauce a little thicker and more like homemade.
                                  I absolutely agree that flour is NOT the ideal tortilla for enchiladas. Sadly, where I live, masa harina is not available, much less store bought tortillas:( nonetheless I do hanker for my enchiladas. You can read more about my adventures in trying to make decent flour tortilla enchiladas on the thread linked below, if you're interested. Cheers!

                              2. My Mexican grandmother taught me how to make enchilada sauce from dried red chile pods, after soaking a grinding, giving me chile puree. . . very, very similar to what I get in Las Palmas (no flour, no cornstarch, no tomato). Any can of enchilada sauce that starts with or includes tomato sauce is not authentic to me. My kitchen smelled like a pizzeria after I used Old El Paso one time. Since I was born in El Paso, I thought it would be authentic - - - not. Stick with Las Palmas or make your own from scratch. You can always thicken sauce by boiling it down to thicken it.

                                1. I have read all the replies and think one's opinion of Las Plamas Enchilada sauce depends on whether or not one prefers "authentic" or and Americanized version. I have to say I prefer the one that does not taste mostly of vinegar, but that is not what I am incensed about tonight. I just prepared chicken enchiladas for my two grandkids and used MILD Las Palmas sauce. I am now heating frozen food for them to eat and will toss the chicken, sour cream, cheddar cheese and cream cheese into the garbage because the mild sauce is NOT MILD!! Yes, I am shouting because I am angry that they can put the word MILD on the can of a substance that is not mild. All those ingredients are wasted, not to mention the time wasted putting it all together. Thanks for listening to me vent.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: luckystrike

                                    It's a good idea to taste Mexican sauces, from can, jar or fresh, before using, in order to gauge how hot they are. 'mild','medium','hot' are not standardized measures of chile hotness.

                                    Also I'm curious how you used the sauce? Did you assemble everything in a baking dish, and just pour the sauce over it? Or did you start by dipping the tortillas in the sauce?

                                    1. re: luckystrike

                                      I agree w/ paulj. Plus, spice level is very very subjective. I don't find the Las Palmas mild sauce spicy at all, and neither does my SO who cannot eat spicy food.

                                    2. Went through two cans and they were both too potent. After a lot of experimenting, what worked the best to make the canned sauce better was: butter, sour cream, boiled water with a cube of chicken boullion and shredded cheese. Do all of it according to taste. Hope this helps. No website I found really adaquately answered this question. Had to learn this one the hard way!

                                      1. Trader Joes sells an enchilada sauce (in a bottle) that might strike a better balance between the classic Mexican red chile sauce, and American expectations. The main ingredients are, like Las Palmas, are water and ground red chile, but it also has some flour thickening. No tomato. Some heat, but not too much (I'm a medium-hot person).

                                        I've been using it more of chilaquilas than enchiladas.

                                        1. Las Palmas used to make just 2 enchilada sauces, regular (just "enchilada sauce") and "hot". These were both traditional (somewhere) chili-based sauces. Both need to be baked to thicken; the "hot" really is.

                                          Later they added a tomato-based sauce, called "mild", and the regular sauce became "medium." 'Hot" is unchanged.

                                          I love the Hot on baked chicken over rice. Minced onions on the chicken hold the sauce.

                                          1. Here's the deal. There is more than one kind of red chile sauce used for enchiladas! In new mexico and much of mexico red enchilada sauce consists only of ground chiles a little lard, spices and of course water. NO TOMATOES, NO THICKENER. Some of that sauce can be extremely HOT! It will make your eyes water and your nose run and you eat it with a cold beer. Las Palmas in either mild, medium or hot is the closest you will get to the real thing. It's delicious! But you need to simmer it to reduce it by 1/3rd to 1/2 to bring it to the right consistency.

                                            Here is how to make delicious Enchiladas New Mexico:

                                            Two soft yellow corn tortillas lightly browned in fat, 1 can medium Las Palmas Enchilada Sauce, 1/2 medium onion chopped , one fried egg, a large handful of shredded cheddar or other mild yellow cheese, and one cold Mexican beer.

                                            Stack all in this order: sauce, tortilla, onion,sauce tortilla, sauce, onion, fried egg, a little more onion and a little more sauce, cheese, a little sauce. Put under a broiler approximately 5-6 minutes until the cheese is melted and lightly browned in a few spots. Open a chilled Modello and enjoy a wonderful, authentic dish, just as though you were at a truck stop in Espanola New Mexico or in Old Town in Albuquerque. (You should serve this on a very hot plate, so be careful!)

                                            1. Las Palmas is absolutely horrendous. True, it does appear it has fewer chems in it, but it has far too much vinegar and tastes extremely tangy as a result.

                                              Dear sweet jesus, I hope their factory burns down.

                                              1. You have to make a roux using flour and bacon grease or flour and manteca. You need to thicken the sauce before you use. As for making them for 4o years. I have never heard of anyone "pouring" the sauce on.

                                                1. Have you tried El Pato (The Duck) brand enchilada sauce? We prefer it way more than Las Palmas or any other.