Enchiladas: one for every corner of Mexico

01/12/2020

The enchiladas is a typical Mexican dish that is elaborated with corn tortillas, bathed in a sauce, hot or not, using a chile in its preparation. Depending on the style of the dish, its ingredients, up to 100 types of enchiladas can be made.

According to the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mexican Gastronomy, an enchilada is a Mexican specialty that is prepared with corn tortillas spread with chile sauce and rolled or folded; they are usually filled with some food. 

There are many types of enchiladas all over the country; it is one of the most popular dishes in Mexico, the recipes vary from one region to another and they are decorated with onions, cream, cheese or other ingredients. It is common to serve three per person. In terms of sauces and colors, the most common are the mole enchiladas, the green ones and the red ones; the green ones are the most common in the central states of the country.

The red enchiladas, which are a mixture of tomato with some dry chile like ancho or guajillo, are famous in the center and north of the country and can be filled with shredded chicken, potato, cheese or picadillo. The green enchiladas are prepared with tomato, besides taking cilantro or epazote in its preparation. They can also be filled with chicken or shredded meat.

The Swiss enchiladas are a variety of the green ones, but they differ because their sauce is prepared with cream and they are gratin with manchego cheese The enchiladas mineras are a variety that is characterized by being corn tortillas bathed in a sauce with guajillo chile, fried in lard, filled with crumbled ranchero cheese and chopped onion, garnished with lettuce, cheese, pickled chile strips, carrot and potato pieces.

Did you know that... It is believed that the Swiss enchiladas came from a restaurant in Mexico City, where a Swiss man often went to eat enchiladas, but he couldn't stand the spiciness, so to lower the spiciness, they added grilled cheese.

And the list goes on: enchiladas potosinas, norteñas, placeras, michoacanas, de nata, del suelo and many more. All are made with ingredients from the countryside, produced and cared for by the hands of food heroes, experts who place the food on every Mexican table. The dish, born in the heart of the country, was soon adopted by different entities, where it acquired unique qualities.

Querétaro's cuisine is very similar to that of the Bajio and its enchiladas are a sample of this. They remind of potosinas, accompanied by potatoes and fried carrots. Returning a little to the Huasteca, Hidalgo is another state that is characterized by its rich regional dishes, from here arise the Huastecan enchiladas, which are red, dry chile, accompanied by fresh grain cheese, jerky, and beans.

The enchiladas are not only known in the states of the Bajio, they have spread throughout the country and in kitchens that have the flavor of the sea. Those of Alvarado in the state of Veracruz are made of shrimp, octopus or crab and are seasoned with epazote, garlic, pepper and onion; also the combination of stewed seafood with pasilla chile, chile ancho and chipotle wrapped in a tortilla, offers to the palate a different flavor from the traditional ones. Quintana Roo is another fishing area that uses its natural resources to prepare its enchiladas, prepared with ancho and pasilla peppers, almonds and peanuts.

Nutritional information on enchiladas

The enchilada is a very nutritious dish because it contains not only the nutrients of the filling -meat, vegetables or cheese- but also the tortilla and the accompanying sauce that will contribute to its nutrition. Today's tortillas -low in fat and sodium- are a good source of calcium, potassium, fiber, iron and B vitamins.

100 grams of enchilada contains 17.5 grams of carbohydrates, no fiber, 5.91 grams of protein, 481 milligrams of sodium, and 63.23 grams of water. 100 grams of enchilada contains 196 calories, 10% of the total daily requirement. Enchilada has 27 milligrams of cholesterol and 11.56 grams of fat. It also contains some important vitamins that you can see here: Vitamin A (712 mg), Vitamin B-9 (40 mg) or Vitamin B-3 (1.2 mg).

According to SF Gate, each beef and cheese enchilada has 323 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat. This implies 28% of the daily value of fat that should be ingested.

How to eat enchiladas in order not to gain weight

Although eating enchiladas may always seem like an excess, it doesn't have to be that way, since with a few small changes, you can reduce calories and fat. When preparing enchiladas, you should avoid frying the tortillas and fill them with beans or vegetables; they will have less fat than meat, although if you cannot give up the proteins, choose low-fat cuts (like chicken or fish) and eliminate those that are visible.

To complement them, make a sauce with boiled peppers and tomatoes, sprinkle with fresh cheese and low fat. It is not recommended to cover the enchiladas with cream, because it contains a lot of fat. Avoid large portions and only consume one or two enchiladas with meat accompanied by some healthier option such as salad, rice or beans, which will help fill you up without excess fat. Do not complement with refried beans or tortilla chips, since they have high amounts of calories.

Many variations of enchiladas

The technique of enchilating the tortilla varies depending on the place; in the states of the center of the country, first the tortilla is fried and then it is bathed with sauce; in the north, on the contrary, the normal procedure is to enchilate the tortilla and then to fry it; in the states of the Southeast they do not usually fry the tortilla, they only soak it with the sauce.

In Mexico City, the Swiss enchiladas are specially prepared. In Durango, milk or chiapaneca enchiladas are typical. In Guanajuato they prepare the mining enchiladas, of which different variants exist. In Guerrero, heated enchiladas are typical. In Hidalgo, the enchiladas are elaborated with sauce of poblano peppers and peanuts to bathe the tortillas and are filled with grated cheese and shredded chicken breast; they are decorated with cheese, slices of radish and lettuce.

In Jalisco different types of enchiladas are made, generally consisting of tortillas bathed with a red sauce of guajillo bell pepper or cascabel, they are decorated with cooked potatoes and carrots, shredded lettuce, chilies in vinegar, cream, avocado and radishes. They are sold in regional parties and fairs.

Among the most traditional ones in the home environment are the enchiladas filled with minced beef or pork with pickled vegetables (zucchini, carrot, potato, etc.); the tortillas bathed in guajillo bell pepper sauce are filled and rolled up, placed in a container to be baked and served sprinkled with cheese, onion, lettuce, radishes and pickled chilies. Another version requires the tortillas to be dipped in the sauce and then fried, as the flavor is said to change noticeably.

In Oaxaca they prepare Totolapam style enchiladas, also called de coloradito and those of black mole. The cuicatecos make some with corn tortillas, passed through oil, soaked in a tomato sauce and mole coloradito and are served sprinkled with fresh cheese, parsley and onion, next to them a piece of fried chicken, lettuce and radishes. 

In Puebla, traditionally, in typical food restaurants enchiladas were advertised as "wrapped", but due to the influence of other places in the country, the term enchilada has gained ground in the entity. It seems that Puebla is the only state in the country where they use another word and this disorients visitors. The most important enchiladas are those of mole.

In Toluca, State of Mexico, are made with fried tortillas soaked in a sauce made with ancho and mulato chiles, are filled with cheese, avocado and chipotle chile, garnished with cheese and baked. In the region of the huastecas the enchiladas huastecas potosinas are consumed. Pixtle enchiladas are consumed in Xicotepec de Juarez, Puebla; it is customary to eat them at lunch and, from time to time, they are accompanied with cecina. At home, cream enchiladas are made. Known in Puebla as wrapped.

The enchiladas potosinas (from San Luis Potosi)

San Luis Potosi is one of the best-known states for offering diverse varieties. Its cuisine has a history of 12 thousand years, beginning with the Chichimec culture and later with the arrival of the Spanish. It is divided into two regions, the Altiplano and the Huasteca. The first one is characterized by the enchiladas potosinas, the original of the population of Soledad.

The way to prepare them is very peculiar due to the mixture of the dough with the chilies, the one of the sauces and cheeses; there are those who add guacamole and chopped onion with potatoes and carrots. In the area of the Huasteca, Rio Verde stands out for its enchiladas of the same name, served with a piece of chicken and bathed in tomato sauce, or those prepared with peanuts.

The official inventor of the enchiladas potosinas is Mrs. Cristina Jalomo (1874-1973), originally from the municipality of Soledad de Graciano Sánchez, at that time a distant town from the capital city; today both municipalities are conurbations.

When making an analysis, all agree in the fact that the peculiar red color dough, distinctive of this dish was a coincidence, when in the mill the dough of nixtamal was mixed with the ground chili peppers, dough that she decided to cook in tortillas that turned out to be delicious for her family, since they had the clear flavor and spiciness of the bell peppers, typical of the gardens of Soledad.

From that event on, a request was made for the dough to be ground in this way. Mrs. Jalomo started using these little red tortillas to cook small quesadillas, which she filled with cheese, chili sauce and a little cream on top, and thus one of the most distinctive dishes of San Luis Potosi was born, the "enchiladas potosinas". It is necessary to make the clarification that, in fact, they are potosinas of Soledad.

Such was the social recognition of this peculiar and delicious dish that the municipality of Soledad de Graciano Sánchez began to be more and more visited on weekends by the people of the city of San Luis, to taste those enchiladas that doña Cristina began to sell in the main square on holidays and Sundays. Nowadays, enchiladas are a very special dish representative of Soledad and San Luis, which constitute an essential pillar of the gastronomic culture of the area.

With one of our recipes you will find the base to prepare any type of enchilada, only that the sauce will vary depending on what type of chiles you use. When you serve it, think that one of the greats of Mexican cuisine has arrived at your table, which has already transcended borders and has also been incorporated as a favorite in the menu of the Americans.

Easy chicken enchiladas recipe (Enchiladas verdes)

Ingredients:

1 tray of shredded chicken breast of 300 gr

12 tortillas

oil to brown the tortillas

10 green tomatoes (in the shell)

2 cloves of garlic

1 serrano bell pepper (green)

1/4 of 1 onion

3 tablespoons of cream

2 teaspoons of powdered broth

2 branches of coriander

Preparation:

12 tortillas are passed through oil and placed on a plate. Grind 8 or 10 green tomatoes cooked with green bell pepper, two branches of cilantro, 2 cloves of garlic, and a piece of onion, fry the sauce, add cream and stir, put one or two teaspoons of powdered broth. Submerge the tortillas in the sauce and add shredded chicken. Finish bathing them with the sauce and put fresh cheese or grated panela cheese on top.

Swiss enchiladas recipe (Enchiladas suizas)

History tells that its origin begins in the middle of the 19th century, when a Mexican butler from Coahuila, surnamed Sánchez Navarro, who had worked at the Habsburg imperial house, took the recipes the monarch liked after Maximilian's death. He began to combine European and Mexican ingredients in diverse dishes and later opened the Café Imperial where he made the first enchiladas by adding grilled cheese and cream on top of the green sauce.

Such was the success of his dish that everyone was asking for it. And according to the descendants of the Sanchez family, it was the wife who baptized the dish, seeing that by the similarity of the cheese and cream on top of the rolled-up tortillas, it looked like the image of the Swiss Alps. The restaurant closed, but the dish's fame made them emulate it in another famous place, the "Jockey Club", today the restaurant of the Azulejos of Mexico City's Historic Center, and that gave international fame to this delicious dish.

Ingredients for the green sauce

1 kilo of green tomatoes washed, disinfected, and dried (for the sauce)

5 pieces of serrano chili (for the sauce)

1/4 piece of onion (for the sauce)

1 clove of garlic (for the sauce)

1 sprig of fresh coriander washed, disinfected, and dried (for the sauce)

1 cup sour cream (for the sauce)

1/4 cup chicken broth (for the sauce)

3 tablespoons of oil one tablespoon for the sauce and two tablespoons for the enchiladas

1 pinch of salt

1 pinch of pepper

8 pieces of corn tortillas for enchiladas

For the filling

2 pieces of cooked and shredded chicken breast, for the enchiladas

1 cup grated Manchego cheese, for decoration

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 200°C. For the sauce, boil the tomatoes and chilies until they are cooked. Blend the tomatoes and chilies with the onion, garlic, cilantro, cream, and chicken broth. In a medium saucepan, heat a tablespoon of oil and fry the sauce for 5 minutes over low heat. Season and set aside. In a frying pan, heat the rest of the oil and pass the tortillas through both sides for one minute to soften. Drain.

Fill the tortillas with the chicken. Place in a dish and bathe with the sauce and the cheese. Grill in the oven for 5 minutes. Serve.

Red enchiladas (Enchiladas rojas)

The dish is called that way because the sauce is made of tomatoes and dried red peppers with spices. It is a simple recipe but very tasty. The enchiladas are a very old dish that dates back to the time of the mestizaje. You can find different versions in each of the states of the Mexican Republic, with variations in the ingredients but the constant is always the tortilla, the sauce, and the cheese.

Ingredients

2 bell peppers, stemmed and seedless

2 wide, stemmed, and seedless peppers

2 guajillo peppers, stemmed and seedless

2 mirasol chilies, stemmed and seedless

1 kilo of guajeo tomatoes

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

24 tortillas of the day

1 large onion, finely chopped

250 grams of fresh cheese, crumbled

100 grams of dry or cotija cheese, grated

1 piece of onion

2 cloves of garlic

Salt, to taste

1 romaine lettuce, chopped

Preparation

Lightly roast the peppers on a hot comal, taking care that they do not burn because they are bitter. Soak them in hot water until they are soft, approximately 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the tomatoes in boiling water until they are soft, but not falling apart, between 5 and 8 minutes. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Submerge the tortillas in the hot oil for about 5 seconds to soften them, taking care not to brown them. Remove excess oil with paper towels or napkins. Set aside.

Mix the chopped onion with the fresh cheeses and cook. Set aside.

Grind the already soft chili peppers with the tomatoes, the piece of onion, garlic, and salt. Add some water and blend until you have a thick and homogeneous sauce. Pour into a saucepan and let it boil, reduce the heat to low while you prepare the enchiladas.

Pass the tortillas through the hot sauce and fill with cheese and onion. Roll up the stuffed tortillas and serve with chopped lettuce on top.

Make traditional enchiladas from Guanajuato (Enchiladas mineras)

Guanajuato is another state where this dish is very famous, especially the mining companies (name due to the boom in that area). They are tortillas filled with ranchero cheese and onion, bathed in a sauce of guajillo chile, cumin, oregano, and garlic. They had their origin at the end of the XVII century.

According to the legend, miners who came from other places to work were cooked and one, remembering his land, asked a lady to prepare tortillas bathed in sauce. She also added other ingredients such as potatoes, carrots, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, and cream, which soon earned her a visit from many people to taste her dish, and today they remember the time of silver.

Ingredients

16 corn tortillas

Pork Butter or Corn Oil for Frying

7 guajillo peppers

1 clove of garlic

1 pinch of cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt

For the filling

1/2 cup of manchego cheese

1/2 cup of cotija cheese

2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion

1 sliced lettuce

1/2 kilo of cooked and peeled potatoes

1/2 kilo of carrots

Sliced or chopped red tomato (tomato)

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

Slices of jalapeño bell pepper in vinegar

Preparation

Clean the chillies: remove the seeds and the veins. Then, soak them in water and let it boil for about 30 minutes. Mix the chilies in the blender with the same water you boiled them with. Also add cumin, oregano, garlic and salt to taste. Put this mixture in a pot and let it cook until the boil breaks (when little bubbles come out of the sauce). Turn off and set aside.

Carefully put each tortilla into the sauce. Then fry it in a little butter or hot oil. When you take out each tortilla, you will fill it with the crumbled cheese, both the manchego and the cotija, mixed with the finely chopped onion. They can be folded or rolled up like taquitos. It serves from 2 to 4 enchiladas on each plate. You can decorate them with lettuce, tomato, potatoes, and carrots.

"Enchilada Corn Dog": the recipe that outraged Twitter users

What happens when people don't do the research needed for the right recipe? Some people believe that this is how cultural appropriation is born. This is what happened, when a combination of tex-mex was published that horrified more than one Twitter user. The Chefclub Network account published on its social network a video tutorial for making "Enchilada Corn Dogs", something like a "banderilla de enchilada".

"Enchilada Corn Dog". Image: screenshot
"Enchilada Corn Dog". Image: screenshot

This new recipe includes a different way of making enchiladas: in flour tortillas and in a style more similar to a wrap. But not only that, the recipe instructs the cook to wrap the creation in a layer of flour similar to that of the banderillas and to fry it in oil. In addition, one of the essential ingredients is cheddar cheese, a type of dairy that is rarely used in Mexican recipes.

The instructions state that whoever makes it should cook the chicken with onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and peppers (an ingredient not used in the original dish). After it is cooked, the filling is placed in the flour tortilla and then the cheddar cheese is added. The enchilada is asked to be rolled up around the skewer and then frozen (a step that is also not normally done).

"Prepare the corn hot dog dough by mixing flour, cornflour, sugar, baking soda, eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until they are combined. Place the dough in a tall glass and dip the frozen enchiladas into the dough; it is important that they are well frozen so that they do not fall apart when submerged," explain the written instructions.

Then, the enchiladas should be "battered in hot oil", and the banderillas should be accompanied with red and green sauce and once again, cheddar. And, for the cheese to melt, it has to be baked. The end of the clip shows how the enchiladas should look: crispy and with melted cheese both outside and inside.

"No way is cheddar an ingredient of Mexican food," said one user. "What in God's name are you doing," wrote another. "Enchilada banderillas must be stopped by any means necessary," said one more user.

Most of the comments were negative, and while some expressed their repudiation explicitly, others were limited to sharing emojis, gifs, or memes that reflected the repudiation they felt towards this "new way" of cooking Mexican food.

Last year American chef Ina Garten caused controversy by publishing her own recipe for what she called the "posole" of pork. Through her Food Network cooking show "Barefoot Contessa", Garten shared tips for her version of the pozole. But she was also criticized for her choice of ingredients and combination of flavors.

Recommendations

To prepare them, the dough is mixed with the chilies and a little salt and left to rest for a while. Then, with this dough, small tortillas are made on a lightly greased skillet, and when they are almost cooked, a little sauce is spread on the raw side; the sauce is left to sit for a few seconds and then they are folded, the edges joined so that they stick together, as if they were quesadillas, and they are placed on a cloth inside a basket, well covered so that they sweat. They should be prepared at least from one day to the next. Before serving, fry them in butter or hot oil and drain them on absorbent paper.

For the making of the sauce, the tomatoes, tomatoes, and peppers are boiled with a little water and then liquefied. Apart, the onion is acitronated in the butter, the liquefied is added and a small ball of the prepared mass, salt, and pepper; it is left to thicken and to season. In the end, add the cheese.

They are served with chopped onion, grated cheese, and cream. To enhance the flavor of the enchiladas, you can put slices of Manchego cheese on top and put them in the oven to melt, the result is delicious. For a better presentation, they can be served in oval clay dishes accompanied by refried beans and totopos. When frying the tortillas, keep them only a few seconds on both sides in the boiling oil so that they do not get too brown, as they cannot be easily rolled up.

Some people prefer to lightly fry the tortilla in the enchilada. Some people prefer to lightly fry the enchilada tortilla. Instead, try the softer, natural tortilla and place it in the oven. If you choose to fry it a little, you will have to be aware of the time it takes to keep it frying, because if the tortilla gets hard you will not be able to roll it up.

In this dish, the texture and flavor of the sauce are very important. Choose what type of filling goes best with each type of sauce and cheese. There is a chicken filling included in our recipe, simple flavored meat that absorbs the intensity of the sauce in all its magnitude. But if you opt for meats - red, pork, or fish - the sauce should be complemented with these types of meats.

An enchilada dish is like serving an edible centerpiece. There are so many colors, so many aromas, and flavors in it that it will awaken even the timidest of diners' appetite. When serving them, it is advisable to accompany them with yellow rice and Mexican style beans that are prepared more as a side dish and therefore do not have the intensity of flavor of Caribbean style beans.

In the United States, hundreds of thousands of enchiladas are served every day. Being the main dish, thousands of people devour it either to sustain themselves during working hours or as a dinner. In Mexican restaurants, the enchilada is a favorite at Sunday brunch.

The word enchilada and its Nahua roots

The word enchilada was first mentioned in a 19th-century book known as "El Cocinero Mexicano" (The Mexican Cook) published in 1831 and later in Mariano Galván Rivera's "Diccionario de Cocina", published in 1845. In the United States, it wasn't until 1914 that it was mentioned in a Mexican-Californian food recipe book, written by Bertha Haffner Ginger. However, the word and the dish were known in that country, approximately 30 years before.

So the expression "The Whole Enchilada" which means something like "you will eat it all", could be celebrating 100 years of existence in the American Union, but the enchiladas are neither American nor Swiss, but Mexican, and much older than that.

The Florentine Codex mentions the word "chillapitzalli" which is made up of the Nahuatl word "chilli" which means chili or bell pepper and "tlapitzalli" which means flute, that is "enchilada flute", described in the same source as "tortilla and chilles dish". This is what we simply call "enchilada" although this dish has suffered a "colonial" crossbreeding since today the tomato is one of the main ingredients of the sauce with which they are bathed.

On the other hand, the word chillailacatzolli means something like "chile wrapped with tortilla" or "tortilla bathed with chile". And so, we also have the word chillamatzohualli: "tortilla redoblada covered with chiles". The cook, tlacualchiuhqui was the one who folded or rolled up the tortillas for this purpose and so it was mentioned under the Nahuatl voice "tlailacatzoa" which means "she folds or rolls up tortillas" where ilacatzoa means to fold or roll.

And finally, there is chillacuecholli, sauce, pasta, or mash made of finely ground ingredients. It comes from Chilli that means chili and "cuechoa" to grind finely. So, these are the proposals of what could be the origin of the dish called enchiladas.

Eva Longoria's favorite family recipe of red enchiladas

One of Eva Longoria's passions is cooking and the idea is to remember one of her most popular recipes, full of Mexican flavor, which you will surely want to prepare from her book La Cocina de Eva: Cocinando con Amor para Familia y Amigos (Eva's Kitchen: Cooking with Love for Family and Friends). In this book, Eva captures her anecdotes about her upbringing and the recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation or those she created inspired by her travels around the world.

Ingredients for 8 people

10 medium tomatoes, cut into quarters

10 wide peppers

8 cloves of garlic

1 cup chicken broth or store-bought

1 ¼ cups vegetable oil (or as needed)

Kosher salt to taste

Approximately 48 corn tortillas

1kg 800 gr whole chicken, cooked and cut into strips

1 yellow onion, cut very fine (optional)

3 cups grated or shredded fresh cheese or Mexican cheese in strands, about 340 gr

1 dish of your favorite Mexican rice (or see Eva's cookbook for the recipe)

1 dish of your favorite Mexican beans (or see Eva's cookbook for the recipe)

Preparation

For the sauce: Put the tomatoes and chilies in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring it to a boil. Cook slowly until the chilies are tender, approximately 10 minutes.

Dry and remove the stems from the chiles. Working in batches if necessary, put the tomatoes, chilies, garlic, and chicken broth in the work bowl of the food processor. Elaborate until it is well mashed.

In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup of the oil over medium heat until it is shiny and hot but not burning. Add the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove sauce from heat. Set aside until cool.

For the enchiladas: Spread a baking sheet or tray with kitchen paper. In a small frying pan, heat 1 cup of oil until it shines and is hot, but not burning. Lightly fry the tortillas one at a time until they are soft, 5 to 10 seconds on each side. Transfer to a saucepan to drain.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Lightly spray one or two ovenproof dishes with cooking spray.

Working with the tortillas one at a time, dip in the red sauce and gently dry both sides completely. Place the tortilla on a baking sheet and place approximately one tablespoon of chicken in a line just above the center of the tortilla. Sprinkle a little garlic on top, if desired. Roll up the tortilla tightly and place it at one end of the baking dish. Repeat with all the tortillas until all the enchiladas are attached to the baking dish. Use a second baking dish if necessary.

When all the enchiladas are in the baking dish, sprinkle any remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle cheese on top and cover the pan(s) with aluminum foil. Put the dishes in the oven until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are hot inside, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Serve directly from the dish, using a spatula to remove the enchiladas. Serve with Mexican rice and beans.

Enjoy and also, dare to try the exotic versions of this iconic dish of Mexican cuisine.