Enchiladas, Enmoladas, Enfrijoladas, and Entomatadas

Enchiladas Enmoladas Tamale.jpg
Erica O'Neil
An en-blank-ada feast! Enmoladas, enchiladas, and a Yucatecan tamale with all the fixings.

Tacos may very well be the perfect food, but let's face it, the standard Meximerican fare can get a bit stale after a while. Taco the Town is here to highlight some of the more unusual Mexican finds in the valley.

This week: We're whipping up a batch of enchiladas and then trying out something a little different, with enmoladas, enfrijoladas, and entomatadas.

¿Como se dice?: Most folks have a passing familiarity with enchiladas as a greasy mass of tortillas and sauce that sits in a rock at the bottom of your gut. You can get them slopped on a platter at just about any Meximerican joint in town. Bland, soggy, and so covered in cheddah that it completely obscures the zing from the namesake chile sauce.

Few realize that the enchiladas are just one of many types of corn tortilla dishes that are fried, dipped, stuffed, and rolled in a variety of Mexican sauces. Today, we're showing you the right way to make classic enchiladas, and an easy way to spice it up by substituting a chocolate (mole), bean (frijole), or tomato (tomate) based sauce in lieu of the chiles.

(sink your teeth into all the spicy details after the jump)

Enchiladas Enmoladas Finished.jpg
Erica O'Neil
Spicy cheese enchiladas and savory enmoladas with a sprinkle of cojita.

La Comida: Enchiladas are just one of several varieties of fried and dipped Mexican corn tortilla dishes. To break it down, enchiladas are dipped in chile sauce, while enmoladas rely on a savory bittersweet chocolate sauce called mole. Enfrijoladas take a dip in a velvety bean (frijole) sauce, and entomatadas are swimming in spicy tomato (tomate) sauce. 

Based on that assessment, we're pretty sure most of the enchiladas we've had in the valley are really entomatadas in disguise. Unfortunately, we've never seen hair nor hide (probably a good sign when ordering Mexican food) of enmoladas on the menu. But if we took a jaunt down to Oaxaca, enmoladas would be all over the place since Oaxaca is the land of a thousand moles! (Okay, it's only the land of seven types of mole, but that's still pretty substantial.)

Enchilada Sauce.jpg
Erica O'Neil
Homemade enchilada sauce.

El Sabor: All of these en[insert sauce here]adas are savory, spicy and surprisingly easy to make. You may need to throw down over how you decide to cook a batch of 'em though. The proper technique for dipping and frying your tortillas is a contentious one. Some dip the tortillas straight into the sauce of choice and then fry them in oil to lock in the flavor, while others think that process is entirely too messy. Instead, they rely on flash frying the corn tortillas to make them soft enough to roll, and then sending those sturdier 'tillas for a quick swim in sauce. Others completely skip the frying step and just dip away with abandon. Those poor, misguided, calorie-counting souls.

Regardless of how your suegra taught you to dip and roll, you still have to find some way to serve this saucy number. Rolled enchiladas are the traditional variety, but they are also often folded into quarters before serving. Or if you're feeling a little New Mex or Tex Mex love, stack those saucy tortillas and layer them with filing to create a spicy Meximerican casserole. We won't tell.

Bring a bit of Mexico to your kitchen: Enchiladas et al. are really defined by their sauce, since they all rely on the same cooking technique. So we recruited our Mexican mother-in-law (Marvelin la maravillosa) to teach us how to make an authentic chile sauce, and a five-minutes-or-less mole. We will willingly admit to totally cheating with store bought mole. Didn't really feel like scrounging up the thirty some odd ingredients, half a day, and blood, sweat and tears to make it by hand. That's a task for another day.

Dried Chiles.jpg
Erica O'Neil
Dried chiles for enchilada sauce

Enchilada sauce:
A bag of dried red chiles (ancho, guajillo, or any other large red chile)
One clove of chopped garlic
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil

1. Break the tops off of about five or six dried chiles to remove the stem and the majority of the seeds. Discard the tops and seeds unless you like scorching hot enchilada sauce.

2. Place the chiles in a pot and add water until just covered. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat so that the chiles can reconstitute (takes about 10 minutes). They should be plump and soft. (Or pour boiling water over those chiles and let it sit there for 10-15 minutes until they've softened.)

3. Remove the chiles (hold onto the chile water too!) and place them in a blender. Toss in the garlic along with some salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, adding soaking water to achieve a sauce that could easily coat the back of a spoon. Not too runny or too thick and pasty.

4. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and pour in the pureed chiles. Bring to a simmer and let it bubble for about 10 minutes. Let cool to use immediately or bottle and refrigerate for later.

Mole Box.jpg
Erica O'Neil
Best boxed mole in town.

Enmolada sauce:
A box of Rogelio Bueno mole from Food City (trust us on this one)
A clove of garlic
Vegetable oil
Seriously. That's it.

1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a saucepan and add the garlic. Cook the garlic for a couple of minutes on medium heat to extract all those aromatics. Then toss the garlic in the trash.

2. Add the mole sauce and bring it to a simmer. Let it bubble for about ten minutes and then remove from the stove to cool. You're ready to make enmoladas.

Enfrijoladas and Entomatadas:
There's only so much good will (and stomach room!) we can beg of our mother-in-law, so here's a couple of solid recipes for an enfrijolada sauce and an entomatada sauce, if you're more inclined to try one of those. Just make the sauce, find a tasty filling of choice, and follow the steps below to roll 'em up!

Steps to Make Enchiladas.jpg
Erica O'Neil
Easy as one, two, three. Step one: Dip! Step Two: Roll! Step Three: Top!

How to Assemble the En-blank-adas:
1. Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet. Add a corn tortilla and fry for about 10 seconds on each side. Just enough to soak them in oil, but not enough for them to become crispy.

2. Stack your flash fried corn tortillas on a plate and assemble the rest of the fixings in an assembly line. First tortillas, then sauce, then a plate to roll your enchiladas on, then fillings. For enchiladas you'll need the enchilada sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, and onions. For enmoladas, you'll need shredded chicken and onions (and maybe some crumbly cojita to top them after they've been baked).

3. Place a fried tortilla in your sauce of choice. Poke it around until you're satisfied that one side is properly soaked. Flip and repeat for the other side.

4. Move the tortilla to the rolling plate, place some filling in it, and roll it up tight. Place in an oven safe (or microwave safe) dish. Continue until the dish is full and then smother the whole thing in extra sauce. Warm the entire platter of en-blank-adas in the oven or microwave and dinner's served!

Know of any Mexican gems in the Valley? Reveal your secrets in the comment section.

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