Roasted Poblano and Chihuahua Cheese Enchiladas

>> Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Roasted Poblano and Chihuahua Cheese Enchiladas

My friend Sheilja recently taught me to make some traditional Northern Indian foods; last week I invited her over to make some traditional Mexican foods I learned from my mother-in-law. I made vegetarian versions of the food because Sheilja doesn't eat meat. But the enchilada roja sauce can be used to stew chicken, and the enchiladas can be stuffed with anything you like - there are no rules about the insides of enchiladas!

There are, however, some strong ideas about what goes into a red enchilada sauce. Purists, and I suspect my teacher Mama Nona, would claim that the sauce should not contain tomatoes, so I didn't include any. But if you'd like to add some chopped tomato or a bit of tomato paste, I think you should cook what makes you happy.


For the Enchilada Roja Sauce

6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
5 medium dried guajillo or pasilla chiles
5 medium dried ancho chiles
1 medium red bell pepper, cored and sliced
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp oregano
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar

Heat a heavy skillet or griddle over medium then lay the garlic on one side to roast. Flip the garlic around in the pan until it is toasted on both sides, but not so brown that it gets bitter.

Tear the chiles into flat pieces and, few at a time, press them against the hot surface until they blister and change color. Flip them over and press again. Remove chiles and garlic from heat and place in a bowl, then cover with the broth. Soak in hot broth for 15 minutes.

Toast the cumin seeds on the hot skillet until fragrant and slightly browned. Place in a blender or food processor. Peel the garlic and remove the stems from the chiles. Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add a little more water if needed; this should be a thick liquid, not a paste. Strain out the seeds.

For the enchiladas 

16-18 corn tortillas
5 poblano peppers
4 cups shredded chihuahua cheese
3 cups enchilada roja sauce
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups shredded lettuce
1/4 cup cotija cheese


Heat the broiler or grill. Place the peppers on a broiler pan or cookie sheet. Broil or grill close to the heat until the exposed side is blotchy, black, and peeling. Turn over the peppers and roast until both sides are blistered and the skin is blackened.

Place the peppers in a paper bag and allow to steam for 15 minutes. This will help you peel the blackened parts off. When finished steaming, cut off the stem and scrape the charred skin and seeds off with a knife. Cut the peppers into thin strips.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x12 casserole pan, then spread out 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom of the pan. On a flat griddle or frying pan, heat the corn tortillas until soft and pliable.

Pour half of the enchilada sauce onto a plate, and lay a tortilla on the plate. Add several strips of pepper and about 1/4 cup cheese.  Roll up the tortilla and place, seam side down, in the casserole pan. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, then drizzle with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the cotija cheese over the top.

Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the centers are cooked and the casserole is heated through. Top with tomato and lettuce before serving.

Serves 6-8.


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