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cristina

Mexican Cooking Project #7

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Enough of this sitting around watching telenovelas and licking cajeta from a spoon! It's time to get back to the cocina, muchachos.

 

There are probably as many enchilada recipes in Mexico as there are grandmothers. This one is easy, the ingredients list is readily available, and the result is completely delicious.

 

Post your favorite recipe too, so we can all share.

 

I learned this wonderful recipe from my friend Celia, who was born and raised two-thirds of the way up the tallest mountain in the Mexican state of Michoacán. She learned it from her grandmother, a tiny woman who in my memory was always wrapped in a thick sweater and a black, blue, and white striped rebozo as she swept her patio with her homemade twig broom.

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Enchiladas Verdes con Pollo

Green Enchiladas with Chicken

 

3 whole chicken breasts (6 pieces), skinned and boned

 

1 kilo (2.2. lbs) tomatillos, husked and washed

12 chiles serrano (or more to taste, if you love picante)

2 large cloves garlic, peeled

1 bunch cilantro, washed well and trimmed*

salt to taste

reserved cooking water from the tomatillos, if needed

 

2-3 dozen corn tortillas

one large white onion, finely minced

1/2 lb queso cotija, crumbled**

cilantro leaves

 

A large saucepan

A 13X9" baking pan

Non-stick vegetable spray

Kitchen tongs

2 medium size frying pans

 

*pinch off the thickest stems, discard any yellow leaves

**reserve 4 Tbsp cheese for garnish

 

Poach the chicken breasts until just done—test with your finger. If they're firm but still springy, they're done. Shred the breast meat, cover and reserve.

 

In a large saucepan, simmer the tomatillos, the chiles, and the garlic until the tomatillos begin to burst open. Some will burst faster than others; take them out of the pan with a slotted spoon as they burst and put them in your blender.

 

When all the tomatillos are cooked (some may never burst, use them anyway), put the garlic cloves and the chiles in the blender with them. Blend until well-chopped but not entirely liquid.

 

Add the cilantro to the blender little by little and continue to blend until the salsa is nearly liquefied. Add a small amount of the tomatillo-cooking liquid IF you need some. You want to still see good-sized flecks of the green cilantro in the salsa. Add salt to taste.

 

Spray the inside surface of the baking pan with the non-stick spray.

 

In a medium frying pan, heat one cup of the salsa. In another medium frying pan, heat about one cup of vegetable oil to hot but not smoking. Using tongs, dip a tortilla in the hot oil--just for 5 seconds, enough to soften but not fry it. Then dip the tortilla in the hot salsa until covered. Place tortilla in baking pan. Sprinkle two tablespoons of the shredded chicken, a teaspoon of minced onion, and a teaspoon of crumbled cheese onto half the tortilla and fold the top over to cover the mixture.

 

Repeat the process (adding oil and/or sauce to your frying pans as needed) until all the chicken is used. You will have more than one layer of enchiladas in the pan. Pour the remainder of the sauce over the enchiladas in the pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350.

 

Sprinkle with more crumbled cheese, a bit of minced onion, and the cilantro leaves.

 

Serves 6.

 

¡Provecho!

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What kind of tortillas do you all think are best for enchiladas? I tend to play against type on this one and go with dry, commercial tortillas, just like for chips and for chilaquiles. They seem more impervious to over-soaking. But I just could be doing things wrong, too.

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extramsg Posted on May 3 2005, 06:29 AM

  What kind of tortillas do you all think are best for enchiladas?

 

While I was preparing the recipe to be posted, I was thinking about just what you asked.

 

IMHO, first choice is: if there's a tortillería near you, get your tortillas there and use them to prepare enchiladas.

 

Second choice: if there's no tortillería in your vicinity, use packaged tortillas.

 

Hand-patted or even home-pressed tortillas--there's no need to go to all that trouble for this sort of recipe. It would be like using top-shelf tequila in a strawberry margarita. You certainly can do it, but...

 

And that's a whole 'nother thread.

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What kind of tortillas do you all think are best for enchiladas?

hidalgobarbacoatortilla.jpg

I'm in agreement with you on this one. Homemade tortillas are problematic because of their thickness and absorbency. You have to make a major effort to press the tortillas thinly enough that they can be rolled without breaking. And, even then, the more absorbent tortilla soaks up more lard in the frying stage (making it unpleasantly greasy) and sauce in the baking stage (making it soggy or mushy).

 

Your average corn tortilla from a local manufacturer will do the job much better. It's also faster and easier.

 

Scott

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I've never worked with tomatillos before (but always wanted to) and have been looking forward to enchiladas, so this recipe looks perfect! Except like Ron, I might prefer chicken thighs as the meat is more moist and forgiving. Cristina, do you ever use the thigh meat in this?

 

Why is it traditionally made with breast meat?

 

How do you think this recipe would do as a make ahead dish? Would the tortillas get too soggy or soak up too much of the liquid? Could it be made a day or at least several hours ahead up to the point before adding the remainder of the salsa and baking?

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You can make it with any chicken meat. Or even turkey meat. I usually start my chicken enchiladas by boiling a whole chicken. Sometimes I boil it in packaged chicken broth, but whatever, I add aromatics in -- bay leaf, 2 cloves garlic, 2 onions. I cool the chicken, and then pull off all the meat into fairly large bite-sized strips.

 

I like dark meat, but don't think they'd be as good with nothing but dark meat. I find the mixture of light and dark to be perfect.

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I prefer breast meat because I like that part of the chicken best and because, IMHO, it shreds more easily.

 

But sure, use any chicken meat you like. I was taught to use breast meat, and taught to poach it to maintain tenderness--but whatever you like is fine.

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Thanks.

 

Do you guys, including Scorched Palate, Rancho Gordo, etc....anyone?? ever recommend preparing it ahead of the time, or does the quality suffer (ie do the tortillas get soggy?)

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Oh all right.

 

I'll probably get corrected, but...

 

I'VE made enchiladas ahead of time and held them in the fridge, even overnight. When I do that, I roll them and put them in the glass casserole and seal them really good. I usually don't pour the final sauce over them until they're ready to go. Then, into the oven. You have to bake them a few extra minutes because they're going in cold.

 

Sometimes, especially when you're having a big party....thirty or more folks...you've got to do things ahead of time. I've even made them a week or so ahead and frozen them.

 

They're obviously not as good as fresh, but they're still darn fine.

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Thanks Jaymes. :blink:

 

In the real world, because we are all so busy, it's really helpful to know these kinds of tips. Especially for parties/dinner parties when there are so many other things to consider. Or to take the prepared dish to someone elses house, and bake there. :lol:

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I used to always make enchiladas ahead of time- until I did the more traditional way and I'd have a hard time going back. The "tooth" is so much better when you assemble and eat right away. But it's not like you're making a bad dish if you prepare ahead. It's just different.

 

I wonder if frying the tortillas even more might help keep them from getting mealy. It might be worth experimenting. And maybe make sure the tortillas are a little stale.

 

When I was on my health kick I tried to not fry the tortillas. I tried steaming them or dipping them into hot chicken stock. In the end, it's better to make something else, I think.

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I don't make ahead so much as make too much. If I'm going to go through the trouble of enchiladas*, I'm going to make a lot of them. I find that cooking them and then freezing them and then re-heating them is better than preparing them and storing them in the fridge.

 

* The exception to this are the street style enchiladas I've only had a couple times and only made once:

 

friedantojitos6.sized.jpg

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And here's a tip I got from a Mexican friend.

 

Before you roll the enchiladas, you're supposed to quickly dip the tortillas into hot oil and then into your hot enchilada sauce, just as Cristina says.

 

This takes a practiced hand. Especially if your tortillas are really fresh, they tend to tear as you try to dip them and remove them from the sauce.

 

My friend told me that she never could get the hang of it (so to speak), so her mother had told her to get a pie plate and put a little sauce into the bottom. Dip your tortilla into the oil, quickly, and then lay it in the pie pan and smear the enchilada sauce over it, front and back. You can actually stack up three or four enchiladas into the pie plate, smearing them with sauce one at a time, then roll those, and then back to dipping into the oil, into the pie pan, smearing with sauce, rolling, etc.

 

Much easier.

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