Chicken Enchiladas Divorciadas (Divorced Enchiladas)
By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
It’s time once again for #FoodieExtravaganza and this month we are having fun with enchiladas with our friends at Melissa’s Produce, who have sent along a ton of dried chiles for us to play with in our kitchens.
I was very excited about this as I love working with chiles of all types, both fresh and dried.
There are tons of different kinds of chiles, and did you know that when dried, some of your familiar favorites take on a different name? Like poblanos. Once dried, they become the mysterious ancho. All of this name changing can get a bit confusing, but since fresh and dried chiles have differing uses, it isn’t that big a deal if you keep up with the type and purpose you need.
Some people think all chiles do is add heat. They do, but there is more to it than that- the subtle flavors and undertones which give character to your favorite foods. I have heard people say things like
“I don’t like Mexican food. All of it is so spicy!” Nope. Many peppers have little to no heat at all.
“People just put peppers in their food for the endorphin rush.” Nope. These babies have very distinct flavors they add to a dish. Take Scotch Bonnet and Habanero peppers for example. They have little to no place in Asian food.
And there seems to be some confusion about Chili powder vs. Chile Powder. Remember that chili is a soup. Chilli is a pepper, but generally not in the USA. Chiles are all peppers in the Americas. Also: chili powder is actually a mixture of spices suited for chili and includes cumin, ground chiles, salt, garlic, and other spices- and occasionally cellulose, which is ground plant fibers to stretch out the mixture. You can see you want to make your own and avoid that last one, right? Fortunately, I have shared my personal recipe for the chili blend: Homemade Chili Powder
Chile powder is the ground spices of chiles by themselves. And that’s what I like grinding for my own enchilada sauce. It tastes absolutlely nothing like the horrendous stuff in a can. And so easy to make, as are most recipes using chiles (including making your own hot sauces, but that’s another post…) There are a couple of ways to prepare your whole chiles. One is to soak them in hot water or broth until they soften, then buzz them up in a blender. I like toasting mine first, which allows them to become more flavorful and fragrant from the oils in them being released, as well as crisping them up, thereby making them simple to grind into the familiar powder. Both ways work, and in the enchilada sauce you won’t notice much difference when it is ready to use.
Tomatillo sauce is dead easy to make- a little annoying to peel off the outer husks and rinsing that stickiness off them, but easier to use than a tomato. They cook quickly and puree easily.
On the subject of corn tortillas, I like to use mine really fresh. Now I have a guy I can run to on busy days and he makes them up fresh on the spot. And I do that unless I make my own or buy them in the store. The ones in the store are older. Thing about older tortillas, they need a dip in oil to soften them or they tend to crack. The fresh ones probably will not so you can eliminate the oil for health reasons.
And I hate to get on my soap box but enchiladas are made with corn tortillas, not flour tortillas. Those are called burritos. I love burritos, but think we should respect the burrito by calling it its proper name. Burritos need not be stodgy things stuffed with beans. You can put whatever you want in them. In fact, if you make them the California Mission Style, they might have rice as well. But if you are cutting carbs, you can just do with meat, or even something like grilled veggies, or a mixture. But respect the burrito. Don’t put it in a corn tortilla and don’t put an enchilada in a flour one.
I know you will do what you want anyway. We can still be friends if you mix them up, but I may still give you the side eye. However you make it, it has a name. Using one tortilla or another is not improper. Each has it’s own name. We all have our own name. What was that meme going around FaceBook about people being called other names?
Don’t ask me to repeat what I may have been called. It’s like the story about never being lost because everyone tells me where to go…by name. 😉
And my mom’s favorite: “You can call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner.”
Chicken Enchiladas Divorciadas
- 6 dried Guajillo , California or New Mexico chiles
- 2 dried ancho chiles
- 1 teaspoon crushed dried piquin peppers, stems and seeds removed
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups chicken broth or water
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound shredded cooked chicken (may use this recipe: Simple and Easy Oven Roast Chicken)
- 4 cups red chile sauce (see above)
- 4 cups tomatillo sauce (may use this recipe: Tomatillo Salsa)
- 12 freshly made corn tortillas
- corn oil or lard (optional)
- 2 cups Queso blanco cheese, shredded
- 3/4 cup Mexican crema or thin sour cream
- shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes (optional garnish)
- Prepare chicken by roasting; remove skin and bones and discard. Shred into pieces and set aside.
- Prepare the tomatillo sauce according to the recipe provided or use purchased.
- For the red chile sauce, toast the whole dried guajillo and ancho chiles on a comal (round flat cast iron griddle) or over open flame being careful not to burn.
- Let peppers cool, then tear off the stems and shake out the seeds. Rip the flesh of the chiles into bits and grind in a spice mill, coffee/spice grinder or mortar (with pestle) as you prefer.
- With the little piquin peppers, just nip off any stems you see and crush those into powder.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour to create a roux; add the chicken broth all at once and stir.
- Whisk in the tomato paste, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and of course the freshly ground chile powder.
- Cook, stirring over moderate heat until sauce thickens, then remove from heat.
- To make the enchiladas, make a station with the sauces, chicken, tortillas and cheese.
- If your tortillas are a bit dry (not freshly made) you will need to heat a shallow amount of oil in a skillet and dip them for a second or two on each side to soften. If you use tortillas made within a few hours that are still warm and steamy, you can avoid that and leave them plain.
- Keeping the stack of tortillas covered (to keep them moist), take one at a time and place 1-1.5 ounces shredded chicken in the center of the tortilla; drizzle about one tablespoon of sauce over, then roll up and place on a microwave or stoneware plate seam side down.
- Then make another tortilla on the same plate the same way except use the other sauce.
- Keep them slightly apart and pour about 1/3 cup sauce over each one, then take about 1/3 cup shredded queso blanco cheese and sprinkle it over the two enchiladas.
- Microwave until the cheese melts, then drizzle lightly with thinned Mexican crema (or sour cream), and garnish with shredded lettuce and small diced tomatoes as you prefer.
- Repeat with remaining tortillas and fillings.
From the kitchen of palatablepastime.com
National Enchilada Day (May 5th)
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