Sonoran style enchiladas. What makes them so different from other enchiladas? Basically, they are stacked, layered tortillas that have been slathered with hot enchiladas sauce. The fillings can be as simple as crumbled queso with onion or more hearty with shredded or chopped meat. Skies the limit when it comes to building these Sonoran style enchiladas! More often than not you will see them mostly prepared with red enchilada sauce, but they are equally delicious in green enchilada sauce!
Start From Scratch!
If possible, always opt for homemade corn tortillas and homemade enchilada sauce! It will make all the difference in the world! If preparing homemade tortillas is not your thing, look for a good quality organic corn tortilla at your local market. The corn flavor and texture of the tortilla makes for a better enchilada recipe all together.
There is something so delicious about simple ingredients!
Yes, you could really make these enchiladas fancy and hearty if you wanted to. Shredded chicken or beef, chopped carnitas or chicharron would be delicious in this recipe. I have prepared this recipe stuffed with roasted poblano strips, mushrooms and plenty of melted Chihuahua cheese! Delicious! Grilled shrimp was amazing too!
Think outside the rolled tortilla!
I have good friends that are originally from Hidalgo, Mexico and they paint a total different picture of the enchiladas popular there. A simple fried corn tortilla until almost crispy topped with red or green spicy salsa, crumbled cheese and onions. That’s it! All the flavors of a cheese enchilada without all the fuss of rolling and sometimes frying the saucy tortillas in oil. That makes a big mess, but a big delicious mess! Lol! Sometimes I prepare them this way and top it off with eggs over easy. Tasty! You can get pretty creative with these enchiladas as well.
Using uncooked tortilla or previously cooked tortillas?
In all honesty, I have prepared this recipe with both uncooked and previously cooked corn tortillas. Did I notice any difference? Not really. Of course frying the freshly pressed corn tortilla eliminates cooking them on the comal first. Some people don’t prefer to fry the tortillas, but I feel you lose out on some of the tasty flavors of enchiladas. In the past, I have been known to simply brush the previously made corn tortillas with oil and place them on a preheated comal for a few minutes. That works too and minimal oil is used.
Get more accurate results with a kitchen scale!
Invest in a digital scale for your kitchen. I use the scale to get a more accurate weight on the dried chile pods, masa balls for tortillas, bread recipes, empanada dough and more. Typical investment is about twenty five dollars. Minimal cost of a new battery once in a while is all you need.
Rule of thumb, the smaller the dried chile pod, the more spicy!
Typically, but not always, the larger pods like guajillo and ancho(pasilla) are among the most mild. In my experience, chile New Mexico, chile Negro and chile California although larger pods can be spicy at times. Working with all these varieties for many years, that has been my experience. Next you have peppers like chile cascabel, chile puya, dried chipotle and chile morita. Among these, the cascabel is the most mild and I will usually add some chile de arbol when I prepare salsa or sauce using cascabel. Puya, chipotle and morita carry a good punch when it comes to heat level. Now the spicier small varieties include chile de arbol, japones, piquin and chiltepin. I use those sparingly, not unless I am preparing an extra spicy salsa or salsa macha.
Let’s Get To The Enchilada Recipe!!
Sonoran Style Enchiladas
- 1 3/4 c warm water
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 cups masa harina(nixtamasa maseca brand)
- 4 oz Guajillo or California dried chile pods
- 6 chile japones or arbol peppers
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp tomato bouillon
- 4 c water
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 1/3 tsp cumin
- 1/3 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp oregano
- salt to taste
Assembling, Filling and Garnish
- 2 cups oil for frying I used avocado oil
- 12 oz queso fresco
- 1 cup white onion, finely diced
- 6 green onions, finely sliced
- Mexican crema
- Your favorite salsa
- In a bowl, pour in the warm water. Mix in the salt until it dissolves.
- Gradually mix in the corn flour masa harina until the dough forms. Dough should be tacky, but not sticking to your hands. Divide the dough into 20 small dough balls. Cover well with plastic wrap until ready to use.
- Remove the stems and seeds from the large chile pods. If the pods looks dusty, rinse them under lukewarm water. Transfer pods to a pot of water that is coming up to a simmer. Drop in the spicier japones or arbol to the pot. Move chiles around after a few minutes. After ten minutes remove from heat. Let stand for ten more minutes.
- When ready, drain out all of the water from softened pods. Transfer to the blender jar. Pour in 4 cups of water, garlic and tomato bouillon. Blend on high until very smooth. If you are not using a power blender, strain the sauce through a wire strainer for a smooth sauce. Set aside.
- In a large sauce pan, preheat two tablespoons of oil for a few minutes at medium heat. While oil is still cold, mix in the cumin and granulated garlic to the oil. If you like more seasoning, double up on the measurements. Stir to combine with oil. Cook just until the spices become aromatic and oil is hot. Pour in the enchilada sauce. Stir well to combine and continue cooking for 25-30 minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, mix in the crushed oregano. Taste for salt. Keep warm on low.
- While the sauce is simmering, prep by crumbling the queso fresco. Cover and set aside. Finely dice and slice onion varities. Mix to combine both onion varities. Cover and set aside.
- While you preheat the oil in a skillet, re-work the masa balls in your hand before pressing.
- When oil is hot, press one masa ball at a time. These are small 3 inch discs. Place them directly into the hot oil. After 20 seconds, using a wooden spoon, begin to spoon a little of the hot oil over tortilla. You don't really want it to puff up, so press it if it begins to do that. The tortillas will take about 2 1/2-3 minutes, turning halfway through. Transfer fried tortillas to a plate lined with paper towels.
- When you are ready to plate, using tongs, dip one fried tortilla into the warm enchilada sauce. Transfer to serving plate. Spoon on some onions and crumbled queso(cheese). Repeat these steps using five tortillas in total. Garnish with shredded lettuce, Mexican crema, avocado and your favorite salsa! Serve as is or with a side of red rice and refried beans.