Enchiladas verdes (enchiladas cooked in a tomatillo-chile sauce) are the peppy cousin of more traditional red enchiladas. I recently taught these in a class and they were a huge hit. Then I served them to a group of friends who come over for games and food every month, and they were an even bigger hit. Then I made them just for myself again, and now I don’t want to share.
Enchiladas, like tacos, are a multi-component dish. They have at least two essential parts, the tortilla and sauce, and the filling, but many have an additional topping, and garnishes on top of that. The cool thing about enchiladas being a component dish is that you can mix and match parts to fashion your own enchilada creations. You can even take a component and use it in a non-enchilada dish.
The Tomatillo-Jalapeno Sauce and Tortillas
4 tomatillos, roasted
2 large jalapenos or 4 small jalapenos, roasted
8 cloves of garlic, roasted
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of water
12 corn tortillas
The Quick Ancho-Frijoles Filling
1 white onion, diced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of dark beer
3 1/2 cups of cooked, rinsed pinto beans
2 ancho chiles, torn into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of dried Mexican oregano
The Pipian Verde
2 tomatillos, roasted
1/2 cup of roasted, salted pepitas
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Begin by pan-roasting, in an iron skillet over medium heat, all 6 tomatillos used in the recipe, the jalapenos, and the 8 cloves of garlic for the sauce. Once they are all partially blistered, remove them and set them to the side. Your garlic will most likely finish before the other ingredients are fully roasted. Make sure to roast both sides of the jalapenos and as much of the surface of the tomatillos as you can. The process will take 10 to 15 minutes in entirety.
“You can pan roast by simply bringing an iron skillet to medium heat and laying the ingredients on the skillet. Leave them alone until they blister, then flip them and repeat. That’s all there is to it. It creates a more complex flavor profile than oven roasting creates.”
Now it’s time to make the filling. Saute the onion over just above medium heat in the oil until it lightly browns. Add the garlic and saute it for 2 more minutes. Add the beer, beans, torn anchos, salt, and oregano. Bring this to a simmer and simmer it until about half the beer has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove the beans from the heat and immediately smash them until you have roughly smashed beans. They should not be completely smooth. Set this aside.
“Enchiladas can take awhile to make, so quick is a good thing in my book.”
Puree all the Sauce ingredients and transfer them to a small skillet or saucepan over low heat to keep it warm.
“Enchilada means “in chile sauce.”
Puree all the ingredients for the Pipian Verde and set it aside.
“The pipian family of sauces are all comprised of green pumpkin seeds pureed with other ingredients. In this case, it’s tomatillos, but it can be tomatoes, onions, garlic, squash, or anything else you can puree.”
Now it’s time to get your enchilada assembly line ready. Fill a small wok, saucepan, or skillet with about 3/4″ to 1″ of corn oil and bring it to medium-high heat. Next to that, place the warm tomatillo-jalapeno sauce. Next to that, place a baking dish to hold your finished enchiladas.
“You need to work quickly once you start making the enchiladas, so getting your assembly line together is very important. I usually squish the pans and baking dishes together so I don’t drip oil and sauce over everything.”
Test to see if the oil is hot enough by placing a tortilla in it. If it puffs up in about 10 seconds, the oil is ready. Spread a little sauce at the bottom of your baking dish. Slide a tortilla into the oil and wait for it to bubble in a few spots. As soon as that happens, remove the tortilla from the oil and place it in the sauce. Quickly spread some of the sauce on top. Gently transfer it to your baking dish.
“I usually don’t fry stuff, but getting the tortillas in the hot oil for a few seconds accomplishes several things. It makes the tortillas pliable so they don’t crack. It slows down how quickly they absorb sauce so they don’t become too moist and fall apart. It adds flavor not just because it adds fat, but because it partially toasts the tortilla and caramelizes the natural sugar in the corn tortilla just a touch.”
If you are making rolled enchiladas, fill the tortilla on one side, roll it closed, and slide it to the edge of the dish. Continue this process until you are out of tortillas. When you slide the rolled enchiladas to the edge, leave at least a 1″ gap between the enchiladas. This will allow you to extract the individual enchiladas without tearing into the other ones.
“I make rolled enchiladas when I want the plating to be special.”
If you are making Sonoran-style enchiladas, lay the tortilla flat in the dish. Do not fill it. Continue frying tortillas until they line the bottom of the dish. Then spread the filling all along the tortillas. Fry and sauce another set of tortillas to cover the filling.
“I make Sonoran style enchiladas when I am serving lots of people.”
Top the enchiladas with pipian verde. If you are doing rolled enchiladas, top each one with a line of pipian verde. If you are doing Sonoran-style, spread it around the top. Bake the enchiladas at 350°F for 15 minutes so everything can set. Remove the enchiladas, top them with pepitas, and enjoy!
Make It Low-fat
You can do this without oil by letting the tortillas sit in the tomatillo-jalapeno sauce until they are soft. Just be aware that there is a higher chance of the tortilla breaking. For the filling, saute the onion in a dry pan. You may want to omit the pipian verde since it is primarily made of pumpkin seeds.
Pan for the sauce
Pan for the oil