Travel at Home: 3 Chiles Enchiladas

As I continue to travel at home, aka experiment with different food and cultures in my kitchen, I can’t help but go back to Mexican food. So many flavours and ingredients in Mexican cuisine, and part of what makes the culture so vibrant I have to keep coming back, both for in-person visits and through food at home.

Did you know? The enchiladas that you fill and top with cheese, then bake in a tray is Tex-Mex style? If you go to Mexico and order enchiladas, what you get on the plate might look very different as Mexican enchiladas are not baked.

Tex-Mex style enchilada, baked with cheese

“Enchilar” means “to season with chili”. So the enchilada you get in Mexico have a dry filling that can include any meat, vegetable or combination of both. They are then topped, aka “seasoned”, with a chilli sauce and served hot.

Here is my recipe for 3 chiles enchiladas, Mexican style.

Salsa

You can make this sauce ahead and refrigerate it up to 3 days

Ingredients – makes about 2-3 cups
1 tomato or a few tomatillos
1 yellow onion, peeled
3 dry chiles.
I bought a bunch of dry chiles on my last trip to Mexico: ancho, pasilla, guajillo. You can use whatever dry chile you have available. Ancho and pasilla are pretty mild and kind of sweet so this sauce wasn’t spicy at all.
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
salt, pepper and olive oil
boiling water
My collection of dry chiles from Mexico. I plan on expanding this collection. For more on Mexican chillies, here’s a good guide
Method40 minutes total, 30 inactive
Step 1rehydrate the dry chiles by soaking them in boiling water for 30 minutes
Step 2cut the tomato and onion into big chunks, peel the garlic cloves and put these on a baking sheet
Step 3season with salt and pepper, drizzle olive oil and broil tomato, onion and garlic for 15-20 minutes until mushy
Step 4scoop the rehydrated chiles out and put in a blender, reserve the soaking water. Add roasted vegetables
Step 5blend until smooth, add the chilli water until you reach the desired consistency
Assemble the enchiladas

You can choose to fill with whatever you like but this salsa goes best with red meat. I chose ground beef

Ingredients
1/4 lbs ground beef
1/2 bell pepper, diced. I used red bell peppers
4-5 white button mushrooms, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground paprika
salt, pepper and olive oil
flour or corn tortillas
vegetable oil for frying
sliced red onions, cilantro and shredded cheese for topping
Method
Step 1In a pan, heat some olive oil on medium high heat. Sautee onions then add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Make sure to break up the clumps.
Step 2Add bell peppers and mushroom, add cumin, paprika and salt and pepper to taste. After 5 minutes, take off the heat and set aside.
Step 3In a non stick pan, heat vegetable oil for frying. Once oil is hot enough, fry 1 corn tortilla for 10 seconds on each side. The tortilla should have a golden colour but not become brown and stiff. If it does, turn down the heat or fry for less time. Frying the tortilla helps prevent it from becoming soggy because of the sauce.
Step 4Take tortilla out, add filling in the middle and roll. Repeat with remaining tortilla and filling until you finish.
Step 5Plate the rolled tortillas. Reheat the 3 chiles salsa and spoon it on top.
Step 6Sprinkle sliced red onions, cilantro and shredded cheese on top of the salsa

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