In continuing with my Mexican food week, I am presenting the (slightly altered) recipe for enchiladas suizas. Growing up, I always looked forward to my mom making enchiladas. Those rolled tortillas filled with spicy beef and gooey cheese, then covered in a rich red sauce with even more melted cheese….not exactly heart healthy, but oh, so delicious. We always had beef enchiladas at home. I had never heard of enchiladas suizas. This is likely due to the fact that we rarely ever ate out. My mom cooked breakfast and dinner nearly every night, despite working full time and having six children, although there were never more than five living at home at any given time. Our house was always spotlessly clean (my mother would disagree with this statement, but that is because if the magazines are not perfectly fanned out, the house is a wreck, in her opinion). While we kids had chores on Saturday and alternated days washing dishes, I am still amazed at how she managed to get everything done. I am the mother of one and generally only work two days per week and my house is in a constant state of disarray! While I do cook, the dishes are often left until the following morning, I don’t cook every day and I almost never cook breakfast.
There you have it. I am not perfect. I digress.
Back to the story. When we did go out, going out for Mexican food was like going to Paris to eat at McDonalds. Why would you? My mom cooked Mexican food most nights, although some of the time, it was something I didn’t like, such as fideo or carne guisada, both with big chunks of bell pepper and onions (neither of which I was fond of). She made the bell pepper and onion chunks large, so they would be easy for us kids to pick out, since none of us liked them. Homemade tortillas where the bread for the table and we often had the traditional sides of arroz (rice) and frijoles (beans). I remember asking to help my mom roll out the tortillas, or helping her peel potatoes and chop vegetables. Some of the time, I was in her way, more than helpful, but she let me help just the same.
When I did start going to Mexican restaurants in my late teens, I discovered enchiladas suizas. Rich, creamy sour cream sauce with Monterrey Jack cheese covering tortillas filled with shrimp, crab, cheese or chicken. I am getting all flush just thinking about them. I was so happy to find the recipe for these creamy delights in the FSM cookbook. I opted to make a few changes, using half sour cream and half greek yogurt and using my friend, Amalia’s green sauce (which I don’t have a recipe for) in place of the tomatillo sauce recipe used in the book and given below. The chicken filling, while featured in the book, is not the one they used for their suizas (they use crab). The filling is slightly spicy, very flavorful and accompanies the sauce well.
Note: While enchiladas are not difficult to make, they are time consuming as there are a number of components which must be made separately. Involve the kids (that’s what I did – although, in my case, I involved the one kid I have) in making the tomatillo salsa or shredding the chicken and cheese or making the white sauce. This is how the love of cooking is passed from one generation to the next and it is a great way to spend time together.
Enchiladas Suizas de Pollo
adapted from Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years of Food and Art
For the filling:
- 6 ounces Mexican chorizo, casings removed
- 1/4 up chopped white onion
- 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4-5 medium Roma tomatoes, roasted and chopped (see * below)
- 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (you can use less or more to vary the spiciness)
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the can
- 3 boneless chicken breasts, poached in water seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper, then cooled and shredded (about 2 cups)
- 1/3 cup chicken broth, reserved from cooking chicken
- sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
*cut tomatoes in half from stem end to tip and place cut side down on a roasting pan or edged cookie sheet (jelly roll pan), drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast in an oven, preheated to 450 degrees F until the skins start peeling away from the tomatoes (about 15 minutes). Remove from the oven and cut into medium pieces, reserve all juices.
Crumble chorizo into a large skillet (I used a 12 inch) or Dutch oven. Cook the chorizo over low heat, being careful not to brown it, but rather, just render the fat from it. Strain all but 3 tablespoons fat from the pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook with the chorizo until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes, chiles, and adobo sauce, increasing the heat to medium. Cook, stirring often until all the moisture has been absorbed and the mixture is dry, about 15 minutes. Stir in the shredded chicken and broth and cook for another 3-5 minutes until the chicken is heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Place filling in a bowl and set aside.
Tomatillo (green) sauce:
- 15 tomatillos, husked
- half a medium, white onion
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 4-6 serrano chiles
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- sea salt to taste
Roast the tomatillos, onion, garlic and serranos on a comal, cast iron pan, or griddle until they are blistered all over. Combine the roasted vegetables and cilantro in a food processor or blender and process until smooth, adjust seasoning to taste and set aside.
Or if you know Amalia, get your hands on some of her salsa verde, because it is amazing!
Sour Cream Sauce
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 3/4 cups milk (2% or higher)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients well, set aside in the refrigerator.
To Assemble the Enchiladas:
- canola oil
- 18 corn tortillas
- chicken filling
- sour cream sauce
- green sauce
- 2 cups shredded monterrey jack cheese
To assemble the enchiladas, create an assembly line work area. Tortillas will move from the skillet to a paper towel lined plate, to a baking dish, with bowls of the sauces and filling nearby. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat (you’ll need enough to fill the pan to a depth of 1/2 inch). Using tongs, dip each tortilla, one at a time into hot oil for just a few seconds to soften them up, making sure not to over-cook them (the fry time should be about 5 seconds per tortilla. Remove the tortilla and drain it on a paper towel, then dip it into the green sauce to coat (I place a few tablespoons of green sauce in the bottom of my baking dish to prevent the tortillas from sticking to the pan, as well as to give me a place to coat the tortillas). Spoon a couple of tablespoons of filling onto the center of the tortilla, top with a sprinkle of cheese and roll, keeping the seam side down. Fry the next tortilla and repeat the process until you have used all of the tortillas and/or filling, making sure to reserve about a cup of cheese for the topping. Once all of the tortillas are filled, pour remaining green sauce over the top. Follow with the cream sauce, covering the tortillas, top with shredded cheese and bake at 350 degrees F, until the cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Remove and, using a firm spatula, serve two to three enchiladas per person along with arroz and frijoles. Disfrutar (enjoy)!