Sometimes in Europe, it feels like 1993. Some things just take a really long time to get here, like Mexican food. Tex Mex seems to be hugely popular right now, we even saw a few Tex Mex / Saloon type restaurants in Latvia, but try as they might, these places are missing something…and that something is usually anything remotely spicy.
That said, I thought I’d take a crack at making enchilada sauce. I’m not entirely sure what constitutes an authentic enchilada sauce and my research could not answer this either, but we really enjoyed this and it was a great opportunity to use some dried Mexican peppers we have in the pantry. Pantry space in our European flat = so very precious. Oh, and fun fact, enchilada comes from the verb enchilar, which means to add chilis to something. Yum!
We picked up our dried peppers on a fun road trip with JD’s dad, during a visit to an unexpected Mexican Mennonite market (say that five times fast). However, don’t worry, you don’t really need dried chilis for this, you can make this recipe even more simple by using your favourite chili powder. I used mainly chipolte peppers here, which are just smoky dried jalapenos. You could also use one small can of chipolte peppers in adobo sauce plus chili powder, or use all chili powder. The world is your oyster.
I should also tell you that JD really loved this meal. He actually called me from work the day after we had it to ask if I had eaten the leftover enchiladas. I told him that I’d saved them for him, and he laughingly admitted he had been hoping that was the case!
Because the sauce is rich and dark, I served this dish with fresh pico de gallo and sour cream. You could use any fresh salsa you like.
This recipe yielding enough for 2 large batches of enchiladas. You can make the sauce now and freeze it for next time, or give it to a friend as I did.
Clockwise: Pasilla, Cascabel, de Arbol, and Chipolte. After tearing your peppers into pieces and discarding the seeds, soak them in hot broth until softened.
Let them sit for about 15 minutes. Puree with a hand blender or in a regular blender until smooth.
Additional spices you will need: oregano and garlic powder. For the sauce: melt butter in a large saucepan or pot.
Whisk your flour into the butter to make a roux. Continue whisking for a few minutes until the roux turns golden and fragrant. At this point, you will add your hot liquid (not shown), whisk into the roux a little at a time until you have a smooth sauce. Add your oregano.
And garlic powder Add tomato paste, taste for seasoning, and let simmer 5 more minutes. Once your sauce is done, you can move on to making the pico de gallo.
Making pico de gallos is totally worth it! So good! Now, quarter your cherry tomatoes and finely chop a red onion. To this, add one jalapeno, seeds and white part removed and finely minced.
Finally, add some fresh cilantro, the juice of one lime, and a sprinkle of salt. Toss to combine.
Time to assemble our filling: ground beef, red kidney beans, and corn. Sauce that tortilla!
Add your filling and some grated cheese. Line up your enchiladas like adorable little sleeping bags filled with cheesy beef.
Cover with sauce and cheese and bake until bubbling. Delicious!
Serve with your pico de gallo and dig in.
Here’s one more….I need to make this again ASAP.
Makes enough sauce for two batches of 8 enchiladas.
5 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups (approximately) of assorted dried peppers (chipolte, pasilla, cascabel, de Arbol)
1/2 cup of your favourite chili powder
1/4 cup chili powder + one small can of chipoltes in adobe, pureed into the stock
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1 TSBP dried Oregano
1 TBSP garlic powder
salt to taste
Enchiladas + filling
You can use any combination of veggies, meat, and/or beans for your filling. This is a great way to use up leftovers.
8 soft corn tortillas (you can use flour, but corn tends to hold up better under the sauce)
2 cups meat of your choice (shredded chicken, ground beef, steak, or veggies)
1 can of kidney beans or black beans
1 small can of sweet corn
3 cups shredded cheese, divided
Sour cream, for serving
Pico de Gallo
1 quart cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 a red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely minced
Juice of one lime
3-4 TBSP fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Pinch of salt
For the Enchilada Sauce:
1. Tear dried peppers into pieces, discard seeds. Soak peppers in hot stock for 15-20 minutes until soft, puree. If not using dried peppers, combine hot stock and chili powder. If using canned chipoltes, puree them with the stock.
2. In a large saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour to make a roux. Continue whisking for a few minutes longer until golden and fragrant. Add hot stock mixture a little at a time until sauce is smooth.
3. Add oregano, garlic powder, and tomato paste (if using). Stir to combine. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes and then taste to adjust seasonings. Half the mixture can now be set aside to cool and freeze.
Enchilada filling and assembly:
1. Preheat oven to 350F or 180C. Combine your meat/bean/vegetable mix as desired. You can use any variety of vegetables or leftover meats you desire.
2. Spread a few tablespoons of enchilada sauce on a corn tortilla, add a heading 1/4 cup of filling, sprinkle with cheese, and roll up. Place the enchilada in a large baking dish. Repeat until you have used up all tortillas and filling.
3. Pour remaining sauce over top of enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for 30-40 minutes until bubbling.
4. Serve with sour cream and pico de gallo.
Pico de Gallo:
1. Quarter your tomatoes and add to a large bowl. I like to use grape or cherry since I find them consistently good and without too much liquid. Finely mince your red onion and jalapeno, tear or roughly chop cilantro and juice one lime.
2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine. Add a pinch of salt and taste to correct seasoning, if necessary.
3. Fresh pico will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days, but is best used on the same day it is made.