Good Mexican food does not exist in the provincial German town where I live. As a southern-Californian and Mexican food enthusiast, this makes me sad indeed. So, what is the solution? Make it myself! This is not an easy task where proper Mexican food ingredients are in short supply, but it can be done. Here’s my recipe for enchiladas with some European substitutions.
Useful tip: New in the neighborhood and trying to win over your elderly German neighbors? Turns out that German grannies like enchiladas so much they’ll stop you on the way home from the market to compliment and thank you. Bring a few (non-spicy) enchiladas over around dinnertime. You’ll be a big hit.
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
- 1 large brown onion, chopped
- 1 – 1 1/2 lb./550-600 kg chicken breasts
- 1/2 can of beer (beer tenderizes the chicken as well as adding an extra dimension of flavor. Plus, easy disposal if there’s any left over)
- 1 can of corn, drained
- 1-2 green bell peppers, sliced thinly
- 3 balls of mozzarella, sliced, for the filling (optional)
- 1/4 cup/4ish heaping tablespoons canned tomatoes in chunks, left over from making Mexican-style rice (optional)
- 6-8 large tortillas or wheat wraps
- 2 cups/200g Jack or mild cheddar cheese, shredded
- Cumin, to taste, about 1 teaspoon
- Powdered coriander, to taste, 1/2 teaspoon
- Paprika, to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon
- Curry powder, to taste, about 1/4 teaspoon
- Turmeric, to taste, about 1/4 teaspoon
- 1/4 cup cilantro/fresh coriander, chopped + extra for garnish, if desired
- 1 more mozzarella ball, sliced, for the topping (optional)
- Sliced black olives, for garnish (optional)
- Sliced green onions, for garnish (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the enchilada sauce:
- 3 cups/700 ml tomato sauce
- Cumin, to taste
- Paprika, to taste
- A pinch of sugar
- Salt, to taste
Fry the garlic, onions, cumin, coriander, paprika, curry powder and turmeric in oil until the garlic and onions are translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the whole chicken breasts and brown on each side. When the pan gets dry, add enough beer to cover the bottom of the pan. Wait for the liquid to cook off, then add more beer. Repeat until the chicken is fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and shred the chicken. You can wait for the chicken to cool and do this with your fingers or with two forks if it’s still too hot to handle.
In the meantime, add the green peppers to the same unwashed pan that you fried the spices in. Fry the green peppers until tender. You can add a bit of liquid (some beer perhaps?) and cover with a lid to encourage faster cooking. Add the shredded chicken, corn, cilantro, tomato chunks mozzarella slices (optional) and cook until the cheese is melted and any liquid is cooked off. Adjust the seasonings and add salt and pepper if necessary. Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC.
Meanwhile, heat the tomato sauce over low heat with sugar, salt and spices. I never measure and add in the cumin and parika according to taste. Maybe about 1 teaspoon? Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until warm.
- In a deep baking dish (something you would use for lasagna), place some of the chicken filling down the middle of a tortilla/wheat wrap.
- Fold the left and right side over the chicken filling, forming a loose roll
- Place the seam-side down
- Once you’ve assembled 6-8 enchiladas, cover generously with the enchilada sauce, shredded cheddar and/or jack cheese and place a mozzarella slice on the middle of each enchilada
- Bake in at 400ºF/200ºC until the cheese is melted, about 10-15 minutes
- Pull it out of the oven and garnish with green onions, cilantro and sliced black olives, if desired
Serve immediately with plenty of guacamole, sour cream, salsa fresca, Mexican-style rice, refried beans and beer!
Tip: Sometimes the tortillas can get a little soggy after sitting for a while in sauce. To prevent this, fry them shortly in oil before filling. Don’t overdo it, they should still be bendy and flexible. I’ve also heard of dipping them in milk and then enchilada sauce after.
Variations: Vegetarian? No worries…substitute the chicken with your favorite veggies. Spinach, cheese and sour cream filling is delish. Or try out blackened, spicy mushrooms.