I have shared with Mi Corazon that when we walk into a Mexican restaurant and they serve us the typical salsa and chips I can always gauge if I will like their food based on the chile or salsas. If a person knows how to make good homemade chile or salsas, in my opinion they can cook good Mexican food, it’s definitely a good gauge.
I have made many enchiladas and eaten more than my share in my lifetime. Enchiladas to me are a perfect gauge if someone knows how to cook because of the simplicity; corn tortilla, chile, cheese, and onion.
But, never once have I used flour tortillas to make enchiladas. I’m not even sure where or when that started. I prefer a yellow corn tortilla, the flavor is enhanced once heated or dipped in oil and slightly cooked.
I have even seen where the tortilla gets a little crispy around the edges, which adds another dimension of texture and flavor.
I have tasted enchiladas made with flour tortillas, but they are too pasty and mushy and frankly lack flavor, for my liking.
My mother always made enchiladas for us, but it wasn’t till I went to my paternal family’s hometown of Guadalajara that I tasted the most delicious enchiladas I have ever tasted. Don’t misunderstand me they are all good. Just different. And the Jalisco style is my preference, because of the way they are prepared. I don’t want tons of Velveeta-style cheese to masquerade the flavors of chile and spices.
“This is the real thing! Corn tortillas are dipped in a home made sauce, fried, filled with Mexican queso fresco, onion and then topped with crema, lettuce and tomato.”
It was a very simple queso fresco enchilada. Served with a little lettuce, a tomato slice and sprinkled with a dry cotija cheese. This is how they differed from my Mama’s Chicago/California style. I saw the women street vendors in my Abuelita Pancha’s colonia Obrera (neighborhood) they dipped the corn tortilla in a pan filled with red chile, secondly they dipped this red corn tortilla in oil, in an outside disco (used as a plow disc). I would hear them sizzle. After they cooked a few minutes the women would move the enchilada to the higher sides of the discs to keep them warm. Then they would be filled with a little queso fresco and rolled, that was it!
My Mama always softened the corn tortillas in a little vegetable oil, then dipped it in her homemade red chile sauce. Then fill with cheese, ground beef sliced olives and onions. And allow all of this deliciousness to marry and warm in the oven. I would probably consider this more of a Mexican-American version.
In Guadalajara they first put the corn tortilla in red chile then oil! It makes quite a difference in flavor. I love them made the way I saw them made in Guadalajara.
My thinking is that the chile basically slides off the oiled corn tortilla in my Mama’s enchilada. In the Guadalajara style you are actually cooking the red chile sauce into the corn tortilla.
But be warned, I have made them this way at home, but had to re-paint my kitchen walls. LOL. The red chile oil splatters all over your kitchen. So there is a reason why you should make these outside.
I also see many recipes using chile powder, we never used chile powder. But, in a pinch I much prefer the flavor of doctoring your own chile powder recipe, to the canned stuff! I do recall sometimes using canned chile such as Las Palmas, but I never liked the flavor, it was too bitter for me. The best enchiladas were the ones my Mama made with homemade chile, when she roasted the California, New Mexico or Guajillo chile pods or a combination, cooked the chile pods, blended in blender, strained, cooked in a rue, and added spices. Deliciso!
I have also tasted Nuevo Mexico style enchiladas which to me simple confirms that if you are using the best products your finished dish will be amazing. I’m referring to the use of Hatch chile to make your enchilada sauce. Homemade enchilada sauce using Hatch chile is one of those experiences to be added to your bucket list.
Growing up my Mama had a best friend from Neuvo Mexico named Teya. Teya’s annual ritual was to get Hatch chile and make pots and pots of chile, which she shared with us. Teya would dip sliced white bread into it and eat it just like that. So we copied her. But, from that delicious blood red sauce she also made chile Colorado and enchilada sauce. New Mexico style enchiladas which are stacked. She would stack her enchiladas 2, 3, 4 high between a little cheese and a fried egg on top. I always looked forward to Hatch Chile season in Nuevo Mexico.
Give it a try. Play, experiment, have fun cooking and add plenty of Amor.