This recipe comes under my blog heading of “Tasty Tryouts.” Recently, I decided to try different recipes I discover on cooking shows, food magazines and blogs and share my new favorites with you.
Ultimate Cheesey Enchiladas is a recipe from Jeff Mauro (The Sandwich King), who is one of the hosts of Food Network’s The Kitchen, and winner of Food Network Star in 2011. His recipe appealed to me because I love Mexican food and I adore anything that resembles molé. (Eating Rick Bayless’ molé at his Chicago restaurant, Frontera Grill, is on my bucket list.)
My Mexican mother-in-law introduced me to molé in the 1970’s when she made enchiladas with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Wow! My taste buds were changed forever, and her enchiladas became a family and friend staple made with turkey or chicken. I developed a craving that was intensified with every bite. Here’s Carmen’s way of making Turkey Enchiladas in Molé.
While Mauro’s enchilada sauce is not a true molé, it’s awful close to the real thing – a dark rich sauce flavored with cocoa, ancho and chipolte chile powders and it’s quick to put together. I would substitute his in a heartbeat for anything molé based.
There’s a generous helping of cheesy goodness for the enchiladas. This time in addition to the cheese I added some leftover shredded chicken and roasted Anaheim or long green peppers commonly used for chili rellenos (a recipe I have yet to master).
Normally, I use flour tortillas rather than corn. In the old days, I made my own, as did my mother-in-law. But now, I rely on tortillas from El Milagro, corn or flour, you can’t go wrong with this brand. I’ve eaten them since my childhood, and nothing else store bought comes close. If you’re adventuresome, many Mexican grocers sell their own homemade concentrated molé in paste form that can be reconstituted with chicken stock. A good idea to try one.
Cheese Enchiladas in Molé is not difficult to make, but there are several steps. Don’t be intimidated. It’s a delicious recipe well worth trying. We loved it! Thanks, Jeff! Tasty, indeed.
Let’s Get Cooking!
Second step, make the molé. The sauce requires a roux of oil and flour. Because the flour can brown very quickly, I like to have all my ingredients measured out and at the ready once the roux is thickened.
So, in a small bowl add:
- 2 Tablespoons ancho chile powder;
- 1 Tablespoon chipolte powder;
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder;
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregnao;
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder (not garlic salt);
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin.
- Mix and set aside.
Measure 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth or stock or homemade stock. Set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed 3-quart pot heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil (canola is fine, too) over medium-high heat. Add 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour and whisk the oil and flour until it begins to foam up. Continue whisking until the roux becomes slightly thickened. (2-3 minutes) Don’t let it brown.
Add the spice mix and continue to whisk until the spices become fragrant. (1-2 minutes). Don’t overcook the mixture so you don’t burn or seize the cocoa.
Add the chicken stock. Continue to whisk until the molé is slightly thickened. You don’t want a paste, but a smooth, rich sauce. Add 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar. Stir to combine. Ladle 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9″x 13″ pan. Set aside.
See! There’s really nothing to it. Be forewarned, the chipolte powder has a bit of a kick. If you like it hot, leave it be. I you want a milder molé, use regular or mild chili powder in its place.
I neglected to take a picture of the shredded cheese in a bowl. Sorry. But here is the star of the show: Oaxaca Cheese. You can find it in any Mexican grocery. I found mine at Kroger. Substitute mozarella, if needed.
According to cheese.com:
Oaxaca, also known as Queso Oaxaca, Asadero or Quesillo is a Mexican name for a semi-soft, white, string-type, Hispanic-style cheese made from cow’s milk. Similar to a Mozzarella, Oaxaca is a stretched curd cheese, kneaded and sold in long ropes gently wound in balls.
One of the artisanal cheeses, Oaxaca has savory mellow buttery flavour and is a great melting cheese. The little salty and mild flavour make it is one of the most popular cheeses for preparing quesadillas. In addition, Oaxaca is an excellent stuffing cheese in baking recipes. In both texture and flavour, it can be compared to a young Monterey Jack cheese. Although the cheese lacks a strong flavour, its mild taste is a favorite with kids.
Let’s “wilt” corn tortillas:
Yellow or white corn tortillas, it really doesn’t make a difference. Mauro uses yellow. I used white.
In a medium skillet or iron skillet, heat 1/2 cup of oil until it sizzles when you put a tortilla in. Fry the tortilla for 5 seconds on each side. Yes, 5 seconds per side. You don’t want the tortillas to crisp up, but to “wilt” or pliable to make filling them easier.
Remove the wilted tortillas to a baking sheet lined with paper towels in a single layer, putting paper towels between the layers. For 12 tortillas, I used 3 sheets of paper towels.
This is a standard technique for any enchilada you wish to conjure up.
Whenever I make enchiladas, I like to roll them on a small baking sheet. Doing so keeps the filling confined, nice and neat. Put 1/4 cup of the filling in the center of the tortilla. Tightly roll the tortilla around the filling, tucking the cheese inside. Place the enchiladas in two rows of six each.
Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas. Bake uncovered in a 375º oven for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle on the remaining cheese filling.
Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.
I served the gooey, cheesy goodness with sour cream, jarred pickled jalapeno peppers, and a thinly shredded, undressed romaine salad topped with tomatoes. You can also add a side of Spanish rice and/or refried beans, if you want to fill out the plate.