New Mexico is famous for its chiles, and these New Mexican Red Chile Enchiladas showcase them in the sauce. They’re spicy and delicious! Ok, I have to admit…I have a secret source for New Mexican chile. My best friend’s parents, who live in Santa Fe. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get the same ingredients for yourself and make these incredibly flavorful, chile-rich enchiladas! You’ll want a combination of dried chiles and ground chile powder, both of which are available in many West coast supermarkets and on Amazon.com. This is a good brand for ground powder, and here is a link for the dried chiles. And this site sells both in smaller quantities.
Have some good beer handy to go with these…they are delicious!
New Mexican Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken
3 cups cooked chicken, torn into small pieces
8 white or yellow corn tortillas (large size for rolled enchiladas)
15 dried New Mexican red chile pods, stemmed and seeded
2 Tbsp olive oil
1.5 small white onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup New Mexican red chile powder
1 Tbsp dried oregano
3 cups chicken stock
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
salt to taste
1 bunch cilantro, leaves finely chopped
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Garnishes: sour cream. chopped scallions, additional chopped fresh cilantro
First, put the dried chile pods in a large bowl, and pour about 4 cups of boiling water over them. Cover and let sit until chiles are very soft, 20-30 minutes. Using tongs (do not dump the soaking liquid), transfer the chiles to a blender. Add 1 cup of the soaking water and purée, adding more of the soaking water if needed to form a smooth paste, about the consistency of tomato sauce. Set aside.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and garlic and sauté until onions are softened, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour and dried chile powder over the onions and mix well. Cook and stir for about 3 minutes. Add the oregano and cook another minute. Gradually stir in the chicken broth, mixing constantly so lumps don’t form. Continue stirring for a couple of minutes and bring mixture to a gentle simmer, reducing heat to medium. Add the puréed chiles, add the sugar and vinegar, and stir well. Taste, and add salt as needed (the amount will vary depending on the saltiness of the broth you use). Simmer for another 10-15 minutes until mixture is nicely thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
Now, before we assemble the enchiladas, an important debate must be noted. To roll or not to roll. In New Mexico, the norm is to stack enchiladas rather than roll them. In other words, layer the tortillas, chicken, cheese and sauce. Of course, traditional Mexican is to roll them and place them side by side in the baking dish. I prefer mine rolled (which I know will cause by best friend and her parents to grimace), but both ways are great, so take your pick.
Ok, now on to assembly. First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix the chicken, cilantro and enough of the enchilada sauce to coat the chicken pieces nicely (about 1.5 cups). Spread another 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Take each tortilla and coat with enough of the sauce to fully cover both sides (I use my fingers to do this, using about 1/8 cup for each tortilla). Place 1/8 of the chicken mixture (about 1/3 cup) on the tortilla, top with some of the grated cheddar cheese, roll and place in the baking dish. Do this for all 8 tortillas. Spread any remaining chicken, if you have any, across the top, top with enough sauce to generously cover the tortillas fully (you may not use all of it). Sprinkle remaining cheese across the top.
Cover the baking dish tightly with foil, and put in the oven. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted and the sauce is bubbly. Let rest for 5-10 minutes, then serve enchiladas onto plates and garnish with sour cream, chopped scallions and/or cilantro. Present and enjoy your New Mexican red chile enchiladas!