Enchiladas have been around in Mexico as one of the staple diets from the pre Colombian times, i.e. since the Mayan civilization. The tortilla made from corn or maize has been the invention of the Mayans and they used to roll them up with a filling of meat or fish. Evidence has also been found that they used to also fry tortillas in grease then add to it some cheese while pouring salsa on it, then put on that another fried tortilla and repeat the process till they got a neat pile of tortilla, salsa and cheese. Then they would top it up with a fried egg and lettuce.
The word enchilada means filled with chilli and was first used in print in 1885. People have transformed an ancient dish from the past, made their own additions or subtractions to it and come up with what we now call enchiladas. What we now stuff into the tortillas are all kinds of meats such as chicken, pork, beef, shrimps along with cheese and salsa, roll it up and layer it with various kinds of sauces, onions, cilantro etc. These enchiladas are very different then what the ancient Aztecs used to make, but one thing is for sure that whatever the history and origin of the enchiladas they have survived all the new creative ideas and is considered one of the favourite dishes of the Americas. It is one of the most versatile, deliciously satisfying and family pleasing dish to have come out of Mexico.
Preparation Time: It takes about thirty minutes to prepare.
Cooking Time: The cooking time is also about thirty minutes.
Total time: The total time taken to prepare this meal is one hour give or take a few minutes.
Nutritional Value: This recipe of chicken enchiladas serves eight. Each serving has a caloric count of 498 of which the total fat content is 15.9 grams or 25%, cholesterol is 72 milligram or 24%, total carbohydrates are 49.7 grams or 16%, protein is 26.7 grams or 53% and sodium is 1226 milligram or 49%. The percentages are based on daily value of 2000 calories diet which may differ from person to person.
- Four skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- One onion, chopped
- Half a pint of sour cream
- One cup of shredded Cheddar cheese
- One tablespoon dried parsley
- Half a teaspoon dried oregano (the Mexican variety)
- Half a teaspoon ground black pepper
- Half a teaspoon salt (optional)
- One can (fifteen ounce) tomato sauce
- Half a cup of water
- One tablespoon chilli powder
- One-third cup of chopped green bell pepper
- One clove garlic, minced
- 8 (ten inch) flour tortillas
- One (twelve ounce) jar taco sauce
- Three-fourth cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
Preparation or Method:
- First you will have to pre-heat oven to 175°C or 350°F.
- Take a medium sized skillet and cook the chicken breast on a medium heat till it is no more pink and the juices ooze out of it.
- The excess fat you will have to drain out.
- Make small cubes of the chicken (size according to your choice) and put it back in the skillet.
- Now add to this the oregano, parsley, cheddar cheese, sour cream, onion and ground black pepper.
- The skillet should be heated till the cheese melts.
- Now slowly stir in the remaining ingredients such as the tomato sauce, chili powder, water, salt, garlic and green pepper.
- Put an equal amount of this cooked mixture into the eight tortillas and roll them tightly.
- Place this in a baking dish of size nine by thirteen side by side, with the seam side down.
- Cover this with the taco sauce and sprinkle on it a generous amount of the three fourth cups cheddar cheese that you had kept aside.
- Let this baking dish go into the preheated oven uncovered (cover them with foil if you like the edges of your tortilla soft) for twenty minutes.
- Your enchiladas are ready, let them cool for ten minutes before serving.
Any Possible Variations:
Enchiladas are the most versatile of meals that have come out of Mexico. It lends itself to so many variations right from the fillings, to the toppings and the sauces. It wants you to be inventive and let your imagination run wild. The above recipe is made from chicken breast meat, but this could be substituted with pork or shredded or chunky beef pieces and cooked as per your liking. The corn tortillas might be the same (you can even make them with flour) but the sauces that you put over it can be made in a variety of ways and colours viz. red, green and white. The toppings too can be of these sauces and different kinds of cheeses or sour cream. So be a little imaginative and invent your own enchiladas and pleasantly surprise your family at meal times. But make sure that prior to serving (if you are making your newly invented meal) you personally have tasted it and made sure that it would be up to your family or friend’s liking.
How to Garnish and Serve:
This meal of enchilada can be topped up with a variety of ingredients and that purely is according to your likes. The favourite variety of toppings that can be used on the enchiladas are diced pieces of tomatoes, chopped leaves of cilantro, red onion either diced into small pieces or thinly sliced, guacamole, salsa, sour cream and anything else that floats your boat.
How to Store:
You can wrap the enchiladas and freeze it or you can put the whole baking tray in the freezer making everything but just before you bake it. Freezing the whole enchiladas fully baked does not take anything away as far as the taste goes, from it after you remove them from the freezer and reheat them. But you may want to skip the baking part and put the whole tray along with the garnish of cheese and the sauces, cover it with a plastic wrap and then the foil. When you want to use the enchiladas what you just have to keep in mind is to remove the plastic wrap and recover it with foil and put it in the oven at 350°F and it would take about 45 minutes. Here you do not have to bother about defrosting it before popping it into the oven.
The sauces that you put on the enchiladas give it a distinct flavour. There are three types of basic sauces that one can put on the enchiladas; red, green and white just like the colors on the Mexican flag.
The red sauce gets its flavour and distinct deep red color from the fresh and dried red chillies as well as the tomato puree that it is made with. The chili powder that is called for while making the sauce is not just the red chillies ground to a powder but a blend of red chillies, oregano, cumin, garlic and salt.
The green sauce gets the colour and the freshness from the green fresh chillies used to make it. The seasoning that is used for both these sauces are more or less the same such as cumin, oregano, garlic, pepper and salt.
The white sauce on the enchiladas was made to appease the tongues of Americans and often has in it nothing more than sour cream with a mix of green chillies which are diced (as much as one can handle), lime juice, fresh herbs and sometimes even condensed soup.
The recipe to make an easy, authentic ten minutes sauce which goes very well with the enchiladas is given here.
- Quarter cup vegetable oil
- Three tablespoon Californian or New Mexico chili powder
- Two tbsp. Flour the self rising kind
- One eight ounce can of tomato sauce
- Water, one and a half cup
- Ground cumin – half teaspoon
- Garlic salt – half teaspoon
- Garlic powder – half teaspoon
- Salt as per your taste
- The first step is to take a skillet, pour oil into it and heat it on a medium to high flame.
- Next put in the chili powder and flour, stirring it constantly to avoid it getting burnt till it takes on a light brown hue.
- Next you must gradually add all the rest of the ingredients such as water, tomato sauce, onion salt and garlic powder and keep on stirring it slowly over a medium heat for approx. ten minutes or the sauce begins to thicken slightly.
- Now you can season it with salt as per your taste.
When you are making the enchilada sauce you may want to use chicken stock instead of water to give it a more rich flavour. You may also use fresh garlic instead of the powder.
You can try dipping your tortilla in the sauce while it is hot and before wrapping it around the filling. Moreover you can also layer the baking dish/tray with this sauce and then put the tortillas over it. Do not worry that the sauce is thin because it tends to thicken in the oven heat.
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