Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oaxacan Red Chile Enchiladas

Making enchilada sauce from scratch is very easy and tastes a million times better than the canned stuff!  This recipe is slightly different than traditional red sauce.  It's very garlicky, a little spicy and a little sweet.  I like to double the sauce ingredients and freeze half later, to use over quesadillas or in beans (or in another batch of enchiladas!) 


Yield: approx 6 servings 



1 medium white onion, diced

2 whole dried guajillo chiles
8 cloves garlic, peeled
6 plum tomatoes, cored and quartered
2 serrano chiles (remove seeds for a less spicy sauce)
2 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. fresh chopped oregano
2 tsp. fresh chopped thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 slice white bread, toasted and crumbled
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
Kosher salt, to taste
18 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
3 cups cheddar cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for topping) 

1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese 
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup copped cilantro
Salsa (for serving)
Heat a skillet on high heat and add the dried chiles. Toast for about two minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover with boiling water, then allow to soak for about 20 minutes.  Drain the chiles, reserving the liquid, and remove the stems and seeds.  Transfer the chiles to a blender or food processor along with enough of the soaking liquid to cover the chiles.  Purée until smooth, then set the chile purée aside.

Return the skillet to medium heat, and add the whole garlic cloves, tomatoes, chiles, spices, herbs, and onion.  Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.  Add the chicken stock, lime juice, sugar and bread, then cook until the mixture has thickened a bit.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Once the mixture has cooled, pour into a blender with the chile puree.  Purée until smooth, then season with salt to taste.  That's the sauce!

For the chicken, I usually boil boneless skinless chicken breast for about 30 minutes, allow it to cool, then shred it by hand.  Depending on how saucy you want your enchiladas, you can add about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce to the chicken to coat it.  If not using additional sauce, add a bit of salt and pepper to the chicken so it isn't bland.

Now, set up your enchilada making station!  One bowl of chicken, one bowl of enchilada sauce, one bowl of cheddar cheese, and a pile of tortillas.  And a casserole dish.

The tortillas must be warm in order for them to be pliable enough to fold.  The traditional way to make them pliable would be to fry them, but personally I find that adds more grease (and more calories!) than necessary.  What I usually do is heat about half of the tortillas in the microwave at a time - about 30 seconds will do it.  It won't affect the flavor at all, and if the tortillas get cold while working, you can just nuke them again.

To assemble the enchiladas, start by spooning a bit of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish. Dip a warm tortilla in the enchilada sauce bowl to coat each side.  Place chicken and cheese in the center of the tortilla, then roll tightly.  Place seam side down into the casserole dish, then repeat until the dish is full.  Spoon additional enchilada sauce over the enchiladas, then sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.

Bake enchiladas in a 350 degree oven until melty and brown on top, or about 20 minutes.

To serve, transfer the enchiladas to a serving platter.  Sprinkle with cotija cheese, onion rings, and cilantro, and of course, don't forget salsa on the side!  Enjoy!