08/22/2014 03:54PM ● Published by Curt Guillory
Sauce + cheese + tortillas = Yum!!
Gallery: Enchiladas [1 Image] Click any image to expand.
What’s the difference between something that tastes good and something that tastes great? Something that tastes good is pleasing, ok, not too impressive. Something that tastes great captures your attention. It says, “Hey, nothing else matters right now but what’s in front you.” It haunts you. It’s unforgettable.
A few foods like that come to mind, the broth of a chicken and sausage gumbo; a perfectly cooked cracklin; a deep, mahogany, brown gravy; and the sauce on these enchiladas.
I’ve been trying to mimic the enchilada sauce from one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, El Dorado’s, in Crowley, LA. The flavor is tough to describe. The spicy, smoky flavor of cumin is pronounced and the first thing you taste. Other dried chili spices start to come through as the rich sauce coats your mouth. Add some quality Colby-Jack cheese and tortillas to the mix and you have a dish that burns itself into your memory.
It’s All About the Sauce:
No matter who makes them, enchiladas are a poor man’s dish; my kind of dish. They are simply filled, rolled tortillas placed in a casserole, covered in an incredible sauce and some cheese, and then baked to bubbly perfection. Simple right?
It is just that simple, but it’s the sauce that makes the difference. So what’s in this magical sauce you ask? It’s nothing more than a thickened chicken stock that is seasoned with various spices. As a matter of fact the French version of this is called a Volouté, but it is decidedly more bland.
There are versions of enchilada sauce that call for a tomato product, either paste, purée, or crushed. I tried these versions and in all cases the sharp, acidic tomatoes dominated the dish and were not at all like my beloved El Dorado’s. So do yourself a favor and skip the tomatoes. And if you run across a recipe that calls for tomatoes, skip that too. No matter how many “OMG’s” are in the comment section.
Building the Perfect Enchilada:
A simple cheese enchilada is the way to go for me. A couple corn tortillas wrapped around some Sargento Colby-Jack cheese sticks, smothered in that incredible sauce, and backed until bubbly goodness. But you can fill yours with whatever you like. Seasoned ground beef, carnitas, sautéed shrimp, sliced chicken, and even lamb are all fair game when it comes to enchiladas.
Corn tortillas are my preference, but understandably some people prefer flour. Use whatever tortillas you like.
There are a couple of options for chicken stock. You could make you own stock from scratch, buy those boxes of prepared chicken stock, or you could do what I do which is to make the stock from chicken base.
Chicken base is an integral part of Mexican cooking. Both Knorr and McCormick make great bases. Simply follow the instructions on the label for the amount you need. Generally 1 teaspoon of base is dissolved into 1 cup of hot water.
- ¼ cup Vegetable oil
- ¼ cup Flour
- 3 cups Chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon Ground cumin (cumino)
- 1 tablespoon Chili powder
- 1 tablespoon Granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon All-purpose seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Ground black pepper
- 12 Tortillas
- 12 Sargento Colby-Jack cheese sticks
- 8 ounces Sargento shredded Colby-Jack cheese
Preheat oven to 375°
Place a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, add flour and oil, and whisk to combine. Continue stirring for 3-5 minutes until the mixture bubbles, but do not let it brown.
Add the stock, dry seasonings, and stir to combine.
Once boiling, reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Lightly oil a 9"X13" casserole.
Roll the cheese sticks in the tortillas and place in the casserole seam down.
Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning.
Cover the tortillas with the sauce, and sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is slightly browned and sauce is bubbling.
This dish is so easy to prepare that it should be part of your weeknight supper list. It is a great way to used leftovers, and you could even make a large batch of sauce and freeze it into smaller portions.
While some like to top their enchiladas with sour cream, I am more of a purist. A little guacamole and some pico de gallo please, and I’ll be just fine.