Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Got it From My Momma

Last Christmas, I flew to Illinois to meet my gringo boyfriend’s family for the first time. He wanted me to impress them by cooking a traditional Mexican dish. He told me that his favorite was enchiladas, so that’s what I should make for them. There are a few variations of enchiladas throughout Mexico. The ones that I grew up with aren’t covered with a tomato-chile sauce, but rather, the tortilla is dipped into a guajillo pepper sauce to soak up the flavor and color. To impress my potential future in-laws, I made sure I put my best foot forward. I packed my trusty sack of dried guajillo peppers that my mom sent me from Mexico, and was ready to win them over!

This is a variation of the recipe that I used to cook my way into their hearts, for those who prefer sauce-covered enchiladas. I've also included the recipe I grew up with.

Chicken Enchiladas
Serves 4-6


Variation 1: guajillo enchilada sauce (recipe to follow)
Variation 2: tomato-chile sauce (recipe to follow)
16 corn tortillas
Chicken filling (recipe to follow)
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
Vegetable oil
Crema Mexican (crème fraîche) or sour cream

Toppers: chopped cilantro, avocado, pico de gallo


Heat about a cup of vegetable oil in a skillet. Dip the cold tortillas, one by one, in the oil until slightly golden yet remaining soft. This step is really important because it will help keep the tortillas soft and not dry out.

Variation 1: Dip each fried tortilla, one by one, in guajillo sauce for a few seconds. Flip over making sure each side is covered in sauce.

Variation 2: Skip dipping the tortillas in the sauce and go straight to filling them up.

Place the tortilla on a plate and add a little bit of the chicken filling, then roll them up and place them on a plate. Make sure that each tortilla is rolled up tightly and that you stack them close together on the plate.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet (add more oil as needed). Place about 2-3 of the filled tortillas on the skillet and brown on each side (about a minute each side). I find that sticking to about three at a time and keeping them close to each other prevents them from coming apart.

Variation 1: Place 2-3 enchiladas on a plate. Sprinkle with queso fresco and about a tablespoon of crema Mexicana. Garnish with the toppers of your choice.

Variation 2: Place 2-3 enchiladas on a plate and pour the tomato-chile sauce over them. Sprinkle with queso fresco and about a tablespoon of crema Mexicana. Garnish with the toppers of your choice.

I like to serve enchiladas with a side of rice and refried beans. If you want to go the extra mile, make those beans “frijoles charros.” Stick around for that recipe!

Chicken Filling

3 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 large onion, cut into thin slices (kind of like little parentheses)
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup of chicken broth
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin


Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender.

Add the jalapeño and tomatoes. Cook until all ingredients have been cooked through.

Add the chicken and season with salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Stir until everything is all mixed in.

Add about half of the chicken broth and cook for about two minutes. Make sure that the mixture is moist. If it’s a bit dried out, add more broth.

Guajillo Sauce


3 cups of dried guajillo peppers (seeded and deveined)
1 large garlic clove
1 chicken bullion cube


Place peppers in a blender and fill with hot water. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes. Pour out about 2/3 of the water and save for later.

Once peppers are tender, add the remaining ingredients. Cover and puree until you have a smooth mixture.

Place a fine strainer over a large bowl and strain through. Add salt to taste. The sauce should not be too runny or too thick. If it’s too thick, add 1 table spoon at a time of that water you saved earlier until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Tomato-chile Sauce


3 medium size fresh and ripe tomatoes, stewed and peeled
¼ oinion
1 garlic clove
1 or 2 canned chipotle peppers (in adobo sauce)
1 tbs oil
Salt and oregano


In a blender, add tomato, onion, garlic, canned chipotles, and about ½ cup of water. Blend until slightly smooth. If you prefer a more rustic sauce, don’t blend too much.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat on a skillet. Fry the mix, when it starts boiling add salt and oregano.


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