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Dec 7, 2013 11:04 AM

Is there a way to do most of the work for enchiladas suizas in advance? (and a few menu questions)

I am having my staff over for dinner tomorrow night for a little pre-holiday get-together. It's a small group, we will be eight with spouses and SOs. I am trying to keep costs relatively low (cost comes out of my pocket; I only wish I could expense it). I'd really like to do a Mexican themed party (hubby makes the world's best margaritas, and it is a good excuse to serve them with guacamole and chips to start off). My allergy/dietary restrictions include one person with a citrus sensitivity (Mexican beer, which she prefers anyway, for the non-lime juice person), a shellfish allergy, and at least two vegetarians in the group (not vegan, however).

Tentative menu:
Pre dinner appetizers:

Cranberry juice fizzes
home made guacamole
jicama sticks, radishes, red peppers
salsa, pico de gallo

hongos (mushrooms) in chipotle
Assorted tamales (from a friend's mom who makes them)
enchiladas suizas
Rice with carrots and chayote (a Diana Kennedy recipe that takes advantage of the great carrots in my CSA box this week)

Staff are bringing desserts, which I will serve with Mexican hot chocolate

I have a great enchiladas suizas recipe, and can make both roast veggie and chicken versions. The only problem is that the recipe (and others I've looked at), require last minute assembly before baking, and I've realized that I really want a dish I can make mostly earlier in the day, so that I can enjoy cocktail hour with my staff. I am not into mole. The only other Mexican dish I like to make that is easy to do more in advance in albondigas, but that is too meat oriented.

Main question: will the texture of the tortillas be compromised or ruined if I make everything and assemble in advance, and just stick in the oven as we start apps? Would it make a difference in answering that question if I did stacked enchiladas instead of rolled?

Any other suggested entrees if the answer to the above question is yes? General ideas on my menu?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I think you'll be fine with advance assembly. When I make them (either red or green), I do it early in the day simply because the clean-up takes so much time! I guess my assembly-line technique could use some work. For what it's worth, I soften the tortillas a few at a time in the microwave under a damp paper towel as opposed to the dip in hot oil approach.

    Menu sounds great! I'm going to try and find the rice and carrot recipe right now.

    1. To much time in the sauce, or too much sauce can turn the corn tortillas mushy. Softening the tortillas in oil will help by providing a barrier ans slowing down how fast the tortillas absorb the sauce.

      For advanced prep I would dip the tortillas in hot oil, drain well then drag them through the tomatillo sauce to lightly coat the tortilla, fill, roll or fold and put in your baking pan. I would wait until your starting your cocktail hour to put the remaining sauce and cheese on and then pop it in your oven to finish. Tomatillos, which are a major component of the Suisse sauce have a lot of pectin and the sauce tends to thicken as it sits. You nag need to thin it down some before pouring it over the enchiladas to bake.

      Good luck and enjoy your party. I'm sure your enchiladas will turn out fine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DiningDiva

        Glad to hear that Susan is feeling better and will party on.

        I'll second your method. I have been subjected to enchiladas that were assembled in advance without tempering the corn tortillas in oil ("because it takes too long"). The tortillas pretty much dissolve from absorbing moisture from the sauce. Also they fall apart when you try to remove them from the pan.

        It is essential to temper them in oil to give them a fighting chance. And I like your idea of not adding the balance of the sauce until just before baking off.

      2. Your menu sounds amazing! Love the mushrooms in chipotle....

        I made a bastardized version of enchiladas where i basically made a lasagna of all the ingredients layered together, baked off the previous day and rewarmed before serving. I think since they were baked and cooled it helped everything stay together better when sliced. I didn't fry the tortillas, just used the corn tortillas as a layer like you would noodles in lasagna.

        1. Have you considered chilaquiles instead? I make mine ahead of time a lot, and they are great the next day (and no worries about the tortillas falling apart as in Enchiladas:-). You could always get some pork and chicken tamales along with tamales dulces and tamales con rajas, and make the meat ones your only meat option. I do find the comment about tomatillos causing the sauce to thicken interesting; I've never noted that with my chilaquiles sauce (which contains tomatillos, but then I like a thicker sauce).

          Oops, just realized that the event in question already passed. Let us know how it turned out. And please send me your enchiladas suizas recipe (or at least post it:-)

          2 Replies
          1. re: janetofreno

            The update: had done most of my shopping at the Mexican supermarket, finalized my menu, and then came down with a bad bug the night before the party! The last thing I wanted to do was infect my staff just before the holiday break, so we postponed the party, to be rescheduled later...

            meanwhile, I had lots of food to repurpose, and was fairly down for the count. Fortunately, many of the ingredients could be frozen or stored...but thanks, Janet, for mentioning chilaquiles. Today was my first day back to feeling myself, and to cooking, and so yes, chilaquiles with tomatillo salsa hit the spot. Today was also CSA day, and we got a ridiculous amount of greens. No worries, I just stirred in chopped kale and spinach while pan frying the tortillas: delicious! Comfort food at its finest.

            The base sauce for the chilaquiles: saute chopped onion and garlic in vegetable oil until soft, add three finely chopped serrano chiles, lots of chopped cilantro and saute a bit more, then add chopped tomatillos (husks removed), chicken broth to cover (for the enchiladas I planned to also make a version with veggie broth), and simmer 20 minutes or so. Blend with an immersion blender. Season to taste. For the enchiladas I'd add some unsalted crema.

            I may experiment with the enchilada recipe, but I think I will stick with that for the party when rescheduled. I have to admit that the chilaquiles looked and tasted great but to me they are still comfort food for dinner...unless perhaps the dinner becomes a brunch....

            1. re: susancinsf

              Sorry about the bug...glad it was short-lived. and btw, my husband LOVES Chilaquiles for dinner!