The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

Spicy Chipotle Enchilada Sauce with Enchiladas Two Ways

For this recipe, I am sharing my real homemade, Mexican-style enchilada sauce.  We also have two different types of enchiladas that utilize the sauce - cheese and chicken.
Note: this sauce is fairly spicy, and may not be suitable for kids or people who are not fond of spicy foods!

One 4 oz. bag of dried ancho chiles (sometimes erroneously called pasillas) - about 8-10 whole chiles
One 1 oz. bag of dried chipotle chiles - about 10-12 chiles
One small yellow onion, peeled and very roughly chopped (or quartered)
4-6 cloves or fresh garlic
One 6 oz. can of tomato paste
About 6 oz. of chicken or vegetable broth (water or a combination of broth/water may also be used)
2 oz. pure unsweetened baking chocolate (you may also use a whole bar of Mexican dark chocolate or other chocolate product), melted
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
Sea salt and freshly-ground pepper (to taste)

A pack of 20 or so fajita or soft taco size flour tortillas
16 oz. of shredded Mexican cheeses (I used Sargento Artisan Blends Authentic Mexican, which contains Queso Quesadilla, Asadero, Queso Gallego, Queso Manchego, Añejo Enchilado cheeses)
12 oz. of Queso Fresco cheese (only part of this will be used)
Two chicken breasts, thawed
One 4 oz. can of whole green chiles, roughly chopped
One can of diced tomatoes
One small can of sliced black olives
Olive oil and/or butter for cooking
Spices as desired for the chicken
Sea salt and freshly-ground pepper (to taste)

To prepare this sauce, you will need a blender.
This enchilada sauce is made with real whole chiles, not chili powder.  It may be a bit more work, but it is definitely worth it!  The chipotles add a great smoky flavor.  You won't regret it.

Seed and de-vein your chiles.  The chipotles can be quite tough, so watch your fingers!  The best way to do this is by cutting off the very top of each chile, slicing it down the side, then splitting it open and pulling out all seeds, any dry pieces or protruding veins, and any pieces of stem.

Put your broth and/or water on the stove to boil.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a small chunk of butter in a pan until the butter is melted, then drop in your onion, garlic, and dried chile pieces.  Heat these for about five minutes or so, stirring often so that the chiles do not burn.  When the onions just begin to soften and the chiles are very fragrant, they are done.  (Please note that the scent of the chiles can be quite cloying, so it is best to have proper ventilation while cooking them).

At this time, your broth should be boiling.  Add the contents of the pan, and lower to a simmer for about fifteen minutes, or until the onions are entirely soft and becoming translucent.

Next, pour the entire contents into a blender, including all of the liquid.  Add your tomato paste, cumin and melted chocolate, and blend until the sauce is fully smooth.

Taste the sauce (it will be spicy) and add salt and pepper as desired, then pulse to incorporate.  If the sauce is too thick, add more water until it reaches the desired consistency.
Note: since this mixture is hot, be sure to cover the blender, and use extreme caution while blending.

Pour the sauce through a mesh sieve and press down with a spoon until all of the sauce has been pressed through.  Catch the sauce in a bowl.  Discard the leftover pieces that are left in the sieve.  This will create a much smoother sauce.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a pan, heat more oil and butter until the butter is melted.
Place the chicken breasts in the pan, and cook over medium-high heat.

As the pieces are cooking, sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and spices as desired.  I used some garlic powder, cayenne pepper, Mexican oregano, and a couple of spice mixes.  Season heavily, as the chicken will be chopped up and placed inside the enchiladas.
After both sides begin to brown nicely, remove them from the pan and place them on a cutting board.
Note: the chicken should be raw in the middle, but this is fine; they will cook the rest of the way when we add the rest of the ingredients.  Do not overcook the chicken.
Being careful with the hot chicken, use a fork and a knife to but the breasts into small chunks or slices.
Place the chicken pieces back in the pan, and add the chopped green chiles and diced tomatoes.
Simmer the chicken for about ten minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Add more salt, pepper, and spices as necessary.

The only separate preparation recommended for the cheese enchiladas is the place the shredded cheese in a bowl for easy access.

Making the Enchiladas
Note: this process works best with a helper (thank you to my brother for assisting me!)
You can use one large baking pan for both enchiladas, or use two smaller ones to hold each type.
To create the enchiladas, pour a small amount of sauce into the baking pan(s); enough to cover the bottom.
Pour more enchilada sauce on a plate large enough to hold a whole tortilla.
Take each tortilla and place it on the sauce-covered plate, coating both sides fully with sauce.
Once the tortillas are covered, fill them with either meat or shredded cheese (depending on which type you are making) and roll the tortilla to keep the filling in.  You want a fair amount of filling , but be sure not to put too much, as you don't want to run out, and you don't want to have your enchiladas break.
Place each enchilada seam-down in the pan, and place them all side-by-side.  Cover with Queso Fresco, any shredded cheese that is left over, and olives if desired.  Pour more enchilada sauce over the top as well.
Once you run out or have a full pan, bake the enchiladas at 350 degrees for about fifteen to twenty minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted and the enchiladas are hot.  Be sure not to overcook them, as the sides can become hard.

Scoop the enchiladas out, top with sour cream and cilantro, and serve with rice and beans (Queso Fresco goes great with the beans as well).

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