Thursday, September 10, 2015

Enchiladas: Mexican Food Explained!

1) All-American baked enchiladas

This time on Mexican Food Explained, a photo essay to unlock the mysteries surrounding the debates about what's Mexican, what's Mexican-American, and what's All-American, as we tackle enchiladas, a dish beloved by all. 

Think of enchiladas as being the opposite of tacos, where the sauce is what's most important, and the filling is simple, usually chicken or cheese. They can be baked, fried to order, and either rolled or doubled over before the covering sauce is ladled on top. In America, it's melted cheese and in Mexico it's a dressing of cream, salty cheese, raw vegetables, fried potatoes and carrots, pork rinds and whole chicken legs on the side. 

Because the sauce or mole is so important, the main element, the sauce or mole is homemade in traditional Mexican enchiladas, as opposed to the Mexican-American or American, where melted cheese and the sides: rice and beans, play a bigger role. 

Whichever your fancy, you'll find this photo essay handy in knowing what style of enchiladas are on your plate. 

1) Americanized Enchiladas, are stuffed with chicken, usually, then covered with a canned or homemade sauce, American cheese and baked in an oven. These are your go to Tupperware party, Betty Crocker, Rachel Ray and Guy Fieri variety. 

2) Mexican-American Enchiladas Verdes at Casa Vega, Sherman Oaks, CA

Enchiladas verdes at Tere's Mexican Food, Hollywood, CA

2) Mexican-American Enchiladas come in a combo plate, with rice and beans and are either covered with Mexican cream or melted cheese, in a canned or homemade sauce, usually red or green. They are made with corn and sometimes flour tortillas and are eaten as a complete meal.

Chef Rick Bayless dancing about enchiladas

3) Culture Appropriating chef Enchiladas; Enchiladas Potosinas at Frontera Grill

3) Culture Appropriating Non-Latino Chef Enchiladas, are when chefs visit Mexico and pester working cooks for their tips and ingredients during service--recipes, too, and then come back home to "elevate" the dish with their "superior" skills, market ingredients and deep understating of enchiladas

They usually miss the whole point of the dish which is the sauce or mole, and do some bullshit like the 3 whales coming out of the water plating as seen above at Frontera Grill. It's an enchilada, wey; where's the sauce? Those are empanadas with guacamole. Sas!

 Enchilada placera vendor in Patzcuaro, Michoacan

4) Mexican Enchiladas, are rolled or doubled corn tortillas filled with chicken or cheese, covered in a homemade salsa verde, salsas roja or mole. The red and green styles change from state to state in terms of tortilla, chiles used for the salsas and regional cheese used. Mole is used in southern states like Oaxaca and Puebla, but the red and green enchiladas are made there, too. The classic style are just rolled corn tortillas with cheese or chicken, drowned in sauce or mole, and dressed with cream, salty cheese and maybe some sliced raw onions; all elements on the plate are for eating the sauce or mole. (Mole is not a sauce, so deal with it!) These are pure, minimalist enchiladas to serve as a nice, comforting supper.

A Real Enchilada Potosina Vendor in San Luis Potosi

In states like Michoacan and San Luis Potosi, corn tortillas are doubled over and filled with a little local cheese and then fried in a homemade enchilada sauce; cubed carrots and potatoes are fried in the same sauce and the whole plate is covered with pickled pork rinds or chicken, then lettuce, cream and salty cheese to soak up the sauce. 

Enchiladas Rojas at the Feria de San Marcos in Aguascalientes

Enchiladas Potosinas in San Luis Potosi

 Enchiladas Placeras in Patzcuaro

 Enchiladas de Mole Poblano at La Casita Mexican, Bell, CA

The restaurant style are more carefully plated while fondas make a delicious mess of hot and cool ingredients. Once again, the regional varieties can have subtle or more profound differences, but assume there are 32 principal styles of enchiladas verdes, for all 31 states and Mexico City, and possibly more sub-regional versions. Same for the rojas, but mole would be confined to the states where mole is more prevalent.

Mexican enchiladas are served at cenadurias, or supper houses, fondas and at street stands and vary from a light supper to a full meal if you're getting placeras or potosinas, with all the fixings.

Enchiladas Verdes

Chef Enrique Olvera doesn't serve enchiladas

5) Modern-Mexican Chef Enchiladas: "If you want enchiladas, I'd recommend a market or fonda nearby, maybe we could go to my mom's if I had the time, but I'm a chef trying to do serious, creative work, and I wouldn't be such a pendejo as to try to make enchiladas better than a 3rd generation cook who's been doing it for 30 years, every day." "I don't make enchiladas, cabron!" 

* The above quote is fictional and not from chef Enrique Olvera


EL CHAVO! said...

This guide is pretty much useless.

streetgourmetla said...

To say "pretty much useless" is useless, El Chavo. If you can be specific for an over 18 crowd, I'd be interested to hear your issue. Based on response though, I'd say many are finding it [pretty much] useful. Did I miss the enchiladas at the Cheesecake Factory?