Enchiladas are a delicious Tex-Mex dish that can be filled with a variety of ingredients like chicken, beef, cheese, beans, or vegetables. They are made by filling a tortilla with the filling, then rolling it up and covering with a sauce. Enchiladas are a crowd-pleasing meal that can be customized in many ways. But what is the secret to making truly amazing enchiladas that will have your guests begging for more? There are a few key tips and tricks that can take your enchiladas from good to great.
The Right Ingredients
The starting point for incredible enchiladas is choosing high-quality ingredients. This means fresh, authentic tortillas made from corn or flour. Pre-made tortillas from the grocery store will often crack or fall apart when rolled. It’s worth seeking out tortillas from a Mexican market or tortilleria. The filling should be seasoned boldly with spices like cumin, chili powder, garlic, and onion. Use generous amounts of cheese like Mexican blends or Oaxaca cheese. For veggies, go for charred onions and bell peppers, roasted veggies, or black beans. Your sauce can make or break the dish, so opt for homemade over canned for the best flavor.
Season the Filling
One of the biggest secrets to excellent enchiladas is amping up the flavor of the filling. Whether you choose ground beef, chicken, turkey, or vegetables, season it aggressively. Saute onions and garlic as the base. Then layer on spices like chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, and salt. A dash of cayenne pepper also enhances the flavor. The filling should taste highly seasoned on its own before being wrapped in the tortilla and baked with sauce. This intense seasoning will counterbalance the richness of the cheese and sauce.
Master the Method
There are a few key techniques that contribute to enchilada success. First, do not overfill the tortillas or they will tear and unwrap. Use about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of filling for each tortilla. Make sure to evenly distribute the filling too. Next, resist the urge to wrap the tortillas too tightly. Leave the ends open as you roll to allow for expansion during baking. Arrange the rolled enchiladas seam side down in the baking dish to prevent unrolling. Pour the sauce over the top and spread to completely coat the enchiladas. Cover with cheese and any garnishes.
Pick the Right Sauce
Enchilada sauce can make or break the dish. Homemade sauces like a chili gravy or red enchilada sauce have the most flavor. If using canned sauce, add extra spices and seasoning to liven it up. Traditional Tex-Mex red sauce packs more flavor than a mild green sauce. Cheese sauce or mole sauce are also delicious alternatives. The sauce should be generously spooned over the enchiladas until completely covered. This helps the tortillas soften and absorb flavor while baking. Don’t be shy with the sauce!
Bake it Just Right
Proper baking is imperative for fantastic enchiladas. They should bake uncovered at 350??F for 20-30 minutes until heated through and the cheese is completely melted. The sauce will bubble up around the edges and get slightly thickened and caramelized. Be sure not to overbake or the tortillas can dry out. You can also finish the enchiladas by baking at 400??F for 5 minutes if you want a nice browned, crispy top layer of cheese. Use a wide, shallow baking dish so the enchiladas cook evenly.
Garnish with Flair
A flavorful garnish elevates enchiladas from boring to brilliant. A sprinkling of fresh cilantro, green onion, radish, avocado, or cotija cheese adds a delightful crunch and bright flavor. Drizzle with Mexican crema or sour cream thinned with milk for tang. A squeeze of lime juice right before serving helps all the flavors pop. Crumbled queso fresco or extra shredded cheese also adds rich flavor. Don’t skip the garnishes!
Get Creative with Fillings
Enchiladas are highly customizable, so take advantage by trying creative fillings beyond ground beef and chicken. Go for braised pork shoulder, chorizo, carnitas, or shrimp. Load them up with veggies like sauteed spinach and mushrooms or roasted squash and poblanos. Try black bean and corn enchiladas for a vegetarian version. Feta, goat cheese, and queso fresco also make tasty fillings. Mix and match cheeses for a melty middle.
Make it Ahead
One shortcut to fantastic enchiladas is preparing them in advance. Assemble the enchiladas up until baking, then cover and refrigerate them. When ready to cook, take them straight from fridge to oven. The chilling time allows the tortillas to soak up the sauce and filling flavors. The baked enchiladas will hold well for 30-60 minutes after cooking too. You can also freeze assembled, unbaked enchiladas up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before baking.
The Proper Sides
Great enchiladas deserve great accompaniments. Stick to authentic sides like seasoned rice, charro beans, elotes, tamales, and tacos. For a fresh contrast, serve lime-cilantro slaw, pico de gallo, or guacamole. Homemade tortilla chips or tostadas are perfect for scooping any extra sauce. And don’t forget the margaritas, horchata, or Mexican Coke to wash it all down!
Make Corn Tortillas
For the absolute best enchiladas, make fresh corn tortillas from scratch. Using masa harina, mix the dough and press into tortillas with a press or rolling pin. Cook them briefly on a hot comal or griddle until pliable. Corn tortillas have an earthy, sweet flavor and porous texture perfect for enchiladas. Just be sure to make the tortillas small enough to roll easily. Homemade tortillas take the flavor of any enchilada filling to the next level.
Amazing enchiladas require quality ingredients, bold seasonings, homemade sauces, proper baking, and creative fillings. With these secrets, you’ll achieve the ultimate flavor and texture in every bite. Don’t be afraid to customize enchiladas to your taste by altering the fillings and toppings. Mastering enchiladas does take some practice, but the rewards are well worth the effort. The next time a craving for enchiladas hits, remember these tips and tricks for preparing your best batch yet. Your friends and family will be thoroughly impressed!
|Use fresh, high-quality tortillas||Prevents cracking and falling apart during rolling|
|Season the filling boldly||Needed to stand up to rich sauce and cheese|
|Don’t overfill tortillas||Overstuffing causes rips and unwrapping|
|Spread sauce generously||Allows flavor to permeate tortilla|
|Bake at 350??F uncovered||Ensures proper heating and melting of cheese|
|Garnish with herbs, cheese, etc.||Fresh flavors and textures enhance the dish|
Frequently Asked Questions
What proteins work best for enchilada fillings?
Chicken, ground beef, and shredded pork make classic enchilada fillings. But you can also use chorizo sausage, carnitas, fish, shrimp, turkey, or beans.
Is it better to use corn or flour tortillas?
Corn tortillas are more traditional and have a sweet, earthy flavor that complements enchiladas beautifully. But flour tortillas hold up well to rolling and sauces too. Choose based on personal preference.
What’s the best homemade enchilada sauce recipe?
A classic Tex-Mex red enchilada sauce made with dried chiles, tomatoes, spices, garlic, and onion has the most flavor. Alternatively, a Mexican-style mole sauce or green tomatillo salsa are also delicious.
Can I prepare enchiladas in advance?
Yes, assemble the enchiladas completely then cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 days before baking. You can also freeze them prior to baking for up to 3 months.
How do I prevent enchiladas from unrolling while baking?
Be sure not to overstuff them, leave the ends open when rolling, arrange them seam side down, and completely cover with sauce to weigh them down during baking.