What are enchiladas?
Enchiladas are a typical dish of Mexico, which are particularly popular in the north. They consist of corn tortillas soaked in a spicy sauce, that are stuffed with meat, red beans or cheeses.
What is the origin of enchiladas?
Corn tortillas that are used to prepare enchiladas are usually fried before being dipped in a hot sauce, known as mole. They are then garnished with the main ingredient: usually chicken, beef, red kidney beans or cheese. But this mode of preparation has evolved over time. The enchiladas as we know them today are the result of various influences.
No one can say exactly how old this traditional Mexican dish is. However, it turns out that the origin of enchiladas dates back to the time of pre-Columbian civilizations. Indeed, it was common to roll tortillas around other foods during the Mayan era.
Civilizations living in the lake area of the Valley of Mexico traditionally prepared corn tortillas wrapped around small fish. At the time of the Spanish conquests, the soldier Bernal Díaz del Castillo wrote a document that described a feast chaired by Hernán Cortés in the city of Coyoacán.
He mentioned eating food with corn tortillas. The introduction of pork and meat into their preparation was started during the period of the conquest in the colonial era. Except these ingredients were not used locally: local people generally used red beans and fish as a filling.
According to some historians, it is Miguel Hidalgo, Vicente Guerrero and Jose María Morelos who discovered the enchiladas during their trip to Mexico. They also discovered tlacoyos, tostadas, and gordas. They were also probably introduced to chocolate and pulque, an alcoholic beverage resulting from the partial fermentation of the sap of various agaves.
In the nineteenth century, enchiladas were mentioned for the first time in a Mexican cookbook. The book called El cocinero mexicano (“The Mexican chef”) was published for the first time in 1831. These Mexican specialties were included in the encyclopedia of Mexican cuisine by Mariano Galvan Rivera in 1845. Also, the word enchilada is a Spanish word, but it is very far from the word chīllapītzalli, the original word in the Nahuatl language, spoken by the Aztecs.
What are the different recipes of enchiladas?
To date, there are more than 300 varieties of enchiladas in Mexico. They differ in the composition of their ingredients or in their method of preparation. Some are baked in the oven with a generous amount of cheese. Some contain cheese only in their filling.
Among the most common enchilada recipes:
- Green enchiladas (enchiladas verdes): prepared with cooked tomatillos (green tomatoes)
- Red enchiladas (enchiladas rojas) (today’s recipe): They are prepared with an enchilada sauce composed of hot peppers (guajillo chili)
- Swiss enchiladas (enchiladas suizas): traditionally prepared with a green sauce made with cream. They are baked au gratin with cheese (not the typical fresh cheese from the region). In some restaurants, they are served with a non-spicy red sauce made from tomatoes.
- Enchiladas de mole poblano: covered with mole poblano sauce (chocolate and chili peppers) and sometimes covered with sesame seeds. They are also called enmoladas.
- Enchiladas potosinas: with cottage cheese and spicy mashed beans.
- Enchiladas de chilorio: these are prepared with pork.
- Bean enchiladas (enfrijoladas): they are covered with refried beans.
- Mexican enchiladas (enchiladas mexicanas): with green sauce, white cream and red sauce to represent the Mexican flag.
- Enchiladas Norteñas: These consist of tomato and chipotle sauce with grated cheese. They are usually filled with chicken and potatoes.
- Enchiladas del suelo: here, the tortillas are not fried but grilled. They are garnished with Cotija cheese and potatoes. They are rather dry compared to others. Enchiladas del suelo are native to Sinaloa.
- Enchiladas tampiqueñas entomatadas: tortillas are folded and not rolled. They are covered with tomato sauce with cheese on top. They usually accompany the carne a la tampiqueña.
- Enchiladas encremadas: they are prepared with any type of filling but they bathe in a cream sauce.
- Enchiladas dulces: Originally from the city of Colima, they have a sweet taste as the mole sauce includes brown sugar and raisins.
Of course, this list is non exhaustive and we could list several other variants of enchiladas. In the meantime, enjoy this delicious specialty and Viva Mexico!
- 16 corn tortillas
- 3 oz. guajillo peppers , dried red chili peppers, seeded and halved lengthwise
- 2 chicken breasts , boneless, cut into very thin strips
- 4 cloves garlic , crushed
- 4 tomatoes , peeled, seeded and diced
- 12 oz. queso bola , grated (Mexican cheese equivalent to Edam)
- 1 cube chicken broth
- Vegetable oil
- 4 cups water
- In a frying pan, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and sauté the chicken.
- Add half of the garlic and cook for 15 minutes, until golden brown, stirring regularly. Set aside.
In a frying pan (or comal), heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat.
Lightly toast the guajillo peppers by pressing them with a spatula, but being careful not to burn them. This step only takes a few seconds on each side.
Once the peppers are lightly toasted, place in a pot of boiling water and boil for 15 minutes over medium heat.
Remove the pot from the heat, drain the chili peppers and let cool for 15 minutes.
Add remaining garlic cloves to a pan and sauté for one minute.
- Add the tomatoes and mix well. Sauté for 5 minutes.
Add 4 cups of water and cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the peppers and mix the preparation in a blender. Pour in a large bowl. Set aside. It will be the sauce for the enchiladas.
Preheat the oven to 350 F / 170 C.
Heat ½ cup (100 ml) of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Fry the corn tortillas on both sides until golden brown, making sure that they can still be folded.
- Lightly grease a baking dish.
- Fully dip each of the corn tortillas in the sauce.
- In the center of each tortilla, place a few strips of chicken and a little grated cheese. Roll it up and place in the baking dish.
- Repeat the operation for all the tortillas.
- Once all the enchiladas are placed in the baking dish, sprinkle all the sauce and remaining grated cheese.
- Bake until the cheese is grilled, ensuring that the enchiladas do not lose their moisture.
- It should take about 15 minutes.