Day Fourteen: Red Chile Pork Enchiladas

13 Dec

When I was a kid, I would only order cheese enchiladas when we went to a Mexican restaurant. The mix of super melty and stringy cheese with the red sauce was just something I couldn’t get enough of. As I grew older, I still enjoyed these but got tired of what I learned was the “Americanized” version of enchiladas. Now, we’re lucky and have what I think is the best Mexican restaurant ever in our small little mountain town – Lupita’s. This place is authentic and doesn’t give you a plate of enchiladas covered in so much sauce and melted cheese that you can’t even see them, next to grayish colored refried beans with yet more melted cheese. No, this place will give you 2 amazing enchiladas filled with whatever you want (shredded beef, please), just the right amount of sauce and a sprinkle of crumbly cheese, all  next to real Mexican rice and real beans with just a touch of more cheese. And the sauce itself is amazing – it blew my mind the first time I ate it. I essentially lick my plate when I’m done, it is so good. I could just order the sauce and be happy. Now that the staff actually knows us and knows what we order (no menu needed), I’m tempted to ask for the recipe. If they were smart they’d keep that recipe a secret.

My pork enchiladas were a success, and really easy since it used leftover meat. Sure there were a few steps, but it was worth it. I’d classify this as either a wholly weekend meal, or maybe a Monday nighter since you can make the sauce and pickled vegetables the day before.

The red chile sauce was that deep, rich red that is reminiscent of Lupita’s sauce. It has a good heat to it, but not so much that it over powers what is wrapped inside the tortillas. Adding the sweet pickled vegetables also cut the heat a bit, and added a nice flavor combination if you got it all in one bite.

My only complaint about this dish was the enchiladas were messy – they just fell apart when you tried to transfer them from the baking dish to a plate. Granted, it didn’t change how they tasted, but they definitely looked disheveled and more like an enchilada casserole, rather than individual enchiladas.

Red Chile Pork Enchiladas

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover pulled pork
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 2 dried New Mexico or Guajillo chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 dried Ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 whole cloves, crushed
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 small watermelon daikon julienned, or 2 small radishes, sliced
  • 1/4 c rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 oz Queso Fresco
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • juice from 1/2 lime

To make sauce and pickled vegetables:

Boil the water. Tear the dried peppers into pieces. In a small skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil and when hot, add the peppers. Cook for about 1 minute or so. Add to a pot and cover with the boiling water. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

While the peppers are soaking, mix the water, vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Place the vegetables in a bowl, and cover with the pickling liquid. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water, then cover and place in  refrigerator until ready to use.

Once the peppers have finished soaking, pour the pepper and cooking liquid into a food processor. Add the cloves and garlic and puree until smooth. Season liberally with salt.

To make enchiladas:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat some oil in a skillet over medium heat. Pour about 1 cup of enchilada sauce in another skillet and simmer over medium low heat. Ladle another 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish.

Place one tortilla in the skillet with oil and cook on each side for about 5 seconds, then dip each side into the enchilada sauce. Place on work surface and add some pork and cheese. Roll up and place in the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining 5 tortillas.

Pour the sauce from the skillet over the enchiladas and spread to cover. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and transfer to the oven. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until heated through and cheese has melted.

To plate, place enchiladas on a plate and garnish with the cilantro, tomato and green onion. Mix the sour cream with the lime juice and drizzle over the enchilada(s). Add the pickled vegetables either on top or on the side.

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