Incredibly versatile and deliciously satisfying, enchiladas are tortillas rolled around a seasoned meat or cheese filling. They're covered in sauce, topped with cheese, and then baked until hot and bubbly. Add a dollop of sour cream or a spoonful of fresh guacamole, and you've got a family-pleasing meal.
There are four basic components to any enchilada: filling, sauce, tortillas, and topping.
Enchiladas can contain a variety of fillings: shredded meats such as beef, pork, or chicken, as well as vegetables, beans or cheese.
- After spreading a spoonful of your favorite filling down the middle of a tortilla, add a stripe of sauce.
- Roll it up tightly and place it in a baking dish, seam-side down.
- Continue filling the enchiladas, lining them up in the dish side by side; cover them with more sauce before baking.
Top-rated meat fillings:
Enchilada sauce in the American kitchen falls into three basic categories to match the colors of the Mexican flag: red, white and green.
- Red sauce has a deep and rich taste derived from its base of both dried and fresh chiles, often with the addition of tomato puree. Many red enchilada sauce recipes you will see call for chili powder. Chili powder is not a single spice, but rather a custom blend of dried red chiles, cumin, oregano, garlic and salt.
- Green sauce has a light, fresh taste thanks to its base of fresh green chiles. Both red and green enchilada sauces are seasoned with garlic, onions, cumin, salt and pepper.
- Finally, the most distinctly American of the three varieties is the white sauce enchilada. "White sauce" often consists of nothing more than sour cream, although it is often mixed with diced green chiles, fresh herbs, lime juice, or even condensed soup.
Tortillas come in two basic varieties: corn and flour. Both varieties are common in Tex-Mex cooking, although corn tortillas are much more traditional in Mexico.
- Corn tortillas are made from a simple mixture of water and masa harina, a specially treated corn flour.
- Flour tortillas are made from wheat flour and usually contain baking powder and shortening or lard. They're larger and thinner than corn tortillas, and because the wheat flour allows the dough to be stretched without crumbling.
- Both varieties of tortilla are kneaded into a pliable dough, pressed or rolled into thin discs, and cooked quickly on a hot iron griddle.
- Unless you are using tortillas that are literally "hot off the press," your best bet is to heat tortillas briefly in a hot pan with a small amount of oil to make them pliable and resistant to tearing.
- If you have a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, you can skip the oil and just heat the tortillas for about thirty seconds per side.
- Stack them in a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft until you're ready to fill and roll the enchiladas.
If you love cheese-topped enchiladas, try Cheddar, Jack, or Mexican Cotija cheeses.
- Sprinkle shredded cheese generously over the top of the enchiladas, then bake them in a moderate oven--350 degrees F (175 degrees C)--until the enchiladas are heated through, the sauce is nice and bubbly, and the cheese is melted. This should take about 30 minutes. (Cover pan with foil if you'd like to keep the edges of the enchiladas soft.)
- Meanwhile, prepare your favorite accompaniments: sour cream, chopped cilantro, thinly sliced red onions, diced tomatoes, chopped olives, salsa and guacamole, or anything else that makes your Tex-Mex feast feel complete!