Here is a recipe for the classic Mexican enchiladas, the ones that combine a flavor that is traditionally tart and piquant with the mealy meatiness of corn tortillas, the tenderness of chicken and a sharp, salty adornment of aged Mexican cheese. They’re rolled up and sauced in cafeterías (especially the new, bright chain restaurants) everywhere—and with above-average fervor in the heartland sections of Central and West-Central Mexico. They’re simple to make, easy to enjoy and attractively filling.
- About 2¾ cups (1 recipe) Quick-Cooked Tomatillo Sauce
- 1 large (1¼-pound), whole chicken breast, cooked, skinned, boned and shredded
- ¼ cup Thick Cream or commercial sour cream
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
- Salt, about ¼ teaspoon
- 12 corn tortillas, preferably store-bought
- ¼ cup vegetable oil, plus a little more if needed
- 1/3 cup (about 1½ ounces) Mexican queso anejo (see Notes) or other cheese like feta or mild Parmesan cheese
- 2 slices onion, broken into rings, for garnish
- Several radish slices or roses, for garnish
1. The sauce and the filling: Heat the tomatillo sauce in a small, covered pan over low. Warm up the chicken in a separate pan over low heat (sprinkled with a little water so it won’t dry out), then stir in the cream or sour cream, onion and salt; set aside off the fire, covered.
2. The tortillas: If the tortillas are moist, let them dry out for a few minutes in a single layer. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high. When sizzlingly hot, quick-fry the tortillas to soften them, one at a time, for 2 to 3 seconds on each side. Drain on paper towels.
3. Assembling the enchiladas: About 20 minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 350°. Pour a cup of the warm sauce into a plate. Lay a tortilla in the sauce, flip it over, lay a scant 2 tablespoons of the filling across the center and roll it up (fingertips are most efficient here). Transfer to a baking dish, then continue filling and rolling the rest of the tortillas. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas, being careful to cover the ends.
4. Baking: Immediately cover the dish with foil and bake just long enough to heat through, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the enchiladas with the crumbled cheese, decorate with onion rings and radishes, and serve right away.
Enchiladas Suizas: Prepare the recipe as directed, adding 1 cup Thick Cream or whipping cream to the tomatillo sauce. Top the enchiladas with 6 ounces (1½ cups) grated melting cheese like mild cheddar or Monterey Jack (see Notes) and bake 10 minutes uncovered at 400°. Omit the other garnishes.
Seafood Enchiladas: In the northwest, they frequently replace the chicken with 1¼ cups flaked, poached, boneless fish (like sea bass, halibut, cod—even chopped shrimp or shredded crab). Complete the recipe as directed.
Traditional North American Variations
Cheese Enchiladas: Use 1 pound grated mild cheddar or Monterey Jack in place of the chicken filling (grated onion may be added, but no cream). Complete the recipe as directed, baking the enchiladas until the cheese melts. A little cheese may be sprinkled on the enchiladas before baking.
Nutritional information does not include radish slices for garnish, Quick-Cooked Tomatillo Sauce, or Thick Cream. For nutritional information on Quick-Cooked Tomatillo Sauce and Thick Cream, please follow the links above. Nutritional information is based on 6 servings.