When Helenthenanny and I were growing up in Buda, Texas, we lived one house down from our friends Amanda and Emma Esparza. We would walk across our neighbor's yard almost every day to play games with them. We were always thrilled when we'd walk over and find that their grandma had come by to visit and cook- she is incredible. Everything she made was insanely delicious, but her enchiladas were everyone's favorite. This is my adaptation of her classic recipe, which one clever cousin was thoughtful enough to write down and share with us.
One quick note- I am incapable of making these enchiladas without covering most of the kitchen in chile sauce. It is absolutely worth the mess- this is one of my very favorite dinners. —arielleclementine
- Serves 4
dried ancho chiles
very hot water
russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" dice
carrots, peeled and diced medium
high quality corn tortillas
panela or monterrey jack cheese, grated
small white onion, minced
crumbled cotija cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Tear open the dried chiles and remove the stems and seeds. Tear each chile into 4 or 5 smaller pieces, and place torn chiles in a bowl. Cover with about 1.5 cups hot or boiling water. Let sit for 10 minutes or so to rehydrate.
- Meanwhile, put the diced potatoes and carrots in a medium pot and cover with water. Add a generous amount of salt, and bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are tender. Drain and return to pan.
- While the potatoes and carrots are cooking, prepare the chile sauce by transferring the rehydrated chiles and about a cup of the chile water to a blender, and blending until smooth. Add more of the chile water if needed, to reach the consistency of a smooth gravy. Pour the chile sauce on a dinner plate and set it next to the stove.
- Set a cast iron skillet over medium heat and pour enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the skillet by about 1/4 inch. When the oil is hot, one at a time dip a corn tortilla into the chile sauce, wipe the excess sauce off with your fingers, and gently drop the tortilla into the oil. Immediately grab your tongs and flip the tortilla, let it sit in the oil for another second or two, and then use tongs to quickly transfer the tortilla to another plate. Repeat with remaining tortillas, stacking tortillas on top of each other as they come out of the oil. (Note: I have made these enchiladas many times, and I still always manage to horribly mutilate the first tortilla I fry. I'd recommend buying more than 12 tortillas, so you have some room for error.)
- When you have finished frying the tortillas, remove all but 2-3 tablespoons of oil from the cast iron skillet. Mix about 1/2 cup of the leftover chile sauce with the drained carrots and potatoes, so that they are well coated, and transfer to the cast iron skillet. Fry over medium heat for 5 minutes or so, so you have some brown crusty bits. Remove from heat.
- Assemble the enchiladas. Carefully peel one fried tortilla off the stack and fill with about 1/3 cup of the potato/carrot mixture, a tablespoon or so of grated panela cheese, and a sprinkling of raw diced white onion. Roll up and place in a casserole dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Transfer the casserole dish to the oven, and bake for 10-15 minutes, so that the cheese can melt and the tortillas can warm up again.
- Garnish the enchiladas with crumbled cotija, sliced avocado, a squeeze of lime, and a smattering of cilantro leaves.