[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

03 May 2014

In my mind, the main difference between an enchilada and a burrito, or a taco for that matter, is the sauce. An enchilada sauce is cooked, and burritos and tacos get salsa fresca. To some people, the difference may also involve the sort of tortilla used, but I tend to be pretty casual about that and use flour tortillas for just about everything. (Which means, for the record that chez moi, or rather at mi casa I suppose, the difference between a taco and a burrito is how you fold it or roll it.)

So, back to the sauce. Because it's a cooked sauce, it's a bit easier to use dried chilies; dried chilies in a salsa fresca are kind of annoying for the most part. This opens up a wider variety of chilies than are commonly available for salsa fresca. Since the sauce is cooked, one can also build layers of complex and rich flavors, as opposed to the bursts of bright and sharp flavors that one gets in a good salsa fresca. Both are excellent, but they are excellent in different ways.

Fillings are, as with tacos and burritos, much a matter of personal preference. We often go with a simple cheese and onion filling, not because of the Rutles, but because it's such a good combination, requires little advance preparation, and doesn't produce a lot of grease. If you want to fill your enchiladas with meat, rice, beans, or what have, go right ahead. Precook the fillings pretty well, though, since they won't get a lot of extra cooking in the oven.

[Lots of pictures]

Cheese and Onion Enchiladas

Make the sauce. Mince the onion and put it in a pot with the olive oil over medium low heat. Mince the garlic and add it. Add a pinch of salt and let them cook, filling your kitchen with delicious aromas, while you mince the dried chilies. About the chilies ... the choice of chilies is what will give the sauce its flavor, complexity, and heat. If you've got access to a wide variety of chilies, then I suspect you probably know what kinds you like and in what quantities; if you have access but don't know yet, then happy hours of experimentation lie ahead of you, but start with something like what I've listed above (assuming you can get them), which will give you a rich but fairly mild, by my standards, sauce. If you don't have access to a varied suite of chilies, then you'll just have to wing it, and use what chilies and chili powders you can find. If you go with chili powders, do check to make sure that they are just ground chilies, without salt or other spices. In any case, mince your chilies and add them to the pot. Add the tomato sauce, mix well, cover, and simmer on as low a heat as possible for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally.

Around the time you start to think about dinner, taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if it needs it. I usually skimp on the salt at the front end and have to add some now. If you want to bump the heat up, you can add some ground chili at this point, and I added 1/2 tsp for just that purpose. Then begin the rest of the prep.

Dice your onions. I've got a hand-cranked food processor that works a treat for this; my old powered one reduced the onions to pulp. Grate cheese. Cheese choice is also a matter of personal taste. Cheddar and Monterey Jack are acceptable, but Colby is an abomination in the sight of God and man. Use it at your peril. (Well, OK, it's not that bad, it's just kind of boring.) Construct your enchiladas by placing roughly equal amounts of onion and cheese in a tortilla, rolling it up, and placing it in a baking dish. If you are making multiple layers, as I usually do, put some sauce between each layer. Then put the rest of the sauce, or as much as you like, on top of the enchiladas. For what it's worth, I think this amount of sauce is adequate for six or eight enchiladas. Stick the whole shebang in a 175C/350F oven for about half an hour. This should be long enough for the cheese to melt, but the onions will still have some texture, unless you blitzed them in the processor, in which case that ship sailed long ago.

Top them with a little tomato, lettuce, onion or scallion, or whatever else takes your fancy, and devour.

© 2014 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite