Typical Mexican enchiladas arrive rolled up and stuffed, but at my favourite enchilada street stall – the inspiration for this enchiladas recipe – they’re stacked in a messy, luxurious pile, with separate individual layers of corn tortillas, fresh coriander and onion, green enchilada sauce, grated cheese and chicken. The whole thing is topped with a blanket of crema and more cheese. It’s almost like a deconstructed lasagne. The dish is enough to make you fall deeply in love with Mexico City – particularly when the corn tortillas are homemade, and the green sauce is prepared with a slow-simmering pot of fresh chicken stock.
– 1.3kg skinless chicken legs, thighs and breasts, fat trimmed
– 450g chicken carcass, fat trimmed
– 3 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
– 1 dried Mexican bay leaf
– 5 black peppercorns
– 1 medium onion, quartered
– 1¾ tsp salt
– ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
– 900g tomatillos, husked and rinsed
– 2 large serrano chillies
– 35g lard or 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp rapeseed oil
– 24 corn tortillas
– 25g fresh coriander, chopped
– 480g homemade crema (see recipe below)
– 115g mild cheese, such as Monterey Jack, grated
– 240g double cream
– 1 tbsp natural yogurt (not Greek)
1. Two days before you’d like to eat the crema, warm the cream in a small saucepan
over a medium-low heat. You should only heat it to take the chill off; be careful not to
overheat. Stir in the yogurt and turn off the heat.
2. Pour into a small, clean jar and leave to cool. Place the lid loosely on top, without
tightening, and leave to stand for 24 hours in a warm place.
3. Place the crema in the fridge for at least 6 hours to thicken. Stir and add salt to
taste (I like just a pinch) before serving.
1. At least 2 hours before you’d like to eat, place the chicken, 1 garlic clove, the bay leaf, peppercorns and a quarter of the onion in a large stockpot. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove the chicken legs, thighs and breasts with tongs or a slotted spoon and leave to cool. Discard the chicken carcass and strain the stock; set aside.
2. Once cool enough to handle, shred the meat and season with ¾ teaspoon salt and the ground black pepper. Set aside.
3. Place the tomatillos in a large saucepan. Add the remaining 2 garlic cloves, peeled, and 2 quarters of the onion. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer on a medium heat for about 12 minutes until the tomatillos turn pea green and soften. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. (Vegetarians can reserve the cooking water, increase the heat and reduce for 15–20 minutes to use instead of the chicken stock.)
4. De-stem the chillies and roughly chop with the cooked garlic. Add to a blender with half the tomatillo mixture and 120ml of the strained chicken stock. (If you have a high-powered blender, toss all the ingredients in at once.) Blend until smooth. Add the remaining tomatillo-onion mixture and 1 teaspoon salt, and blend again until smooth.
5. Warm 15g of the lard or 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the sauce in one quick pour, being careful as it might splatter. Cook for about 5 minutes until the flavours meld.
6. Heat the remaining 10g lard or 2 teaspoons oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat and swirl to coat the base of the pan. Fry the tortillas lightly, one at a time, for about 30 seconds per side until slightly tougher but still pliable. (They shouldn’t be crisp.) As you work, remove the fried tortillas to serving plates – I like to serve four per person. Fold the tortillas in a half-moon shape and ensure that they sit in an even layer on each plate.
7. Dice the remaining quarter of onion. Ladle 180ml of the sauce over each serving of tortillas, spreading it slightly so that the tortillas are entirely smothered in sauce. Add a layer of diced onion and coriander, a layer of grated cheese, a layer of chicken, some crema and another layer of sauce. Top with another light sprinkling of diced onion.
– I recommend making your own light stock here, using the water in which you’ve cooked the chicken. Mexican cooks consider that a hen, as opposed to a cockerel, makes the most flavourful stock base.
– If you’re vegetarian, this dish can still be pretty wonderful, especially if you use homemade vegetable stock.
Lesley Téllez grew up in a Mexican-American home in California and moved to Mexico in 2009. A love letter to the intricate cuisine of Mexico City, Eat Mexico unlocks the culinary identity of the city and showcases food from the city’s streets, markets and casual fondas.
Recipes range from the familiar tacos, enchiladas and burritos that we all know and love Mexican cuisine for, to the entirely unfamiliar. With stunning location photography, new ingredients to explore eclectic recipes to share and cultural adventures to engage in, ambitious cooks and armchair travellers alike will enjoy this book.
EAT MEXICO by Lesley Téllez is published by Kyle Books, and is available to buy on www.amazon.co.uk as a Hardback, priced £19.99.