If you’ve been following the saga of the ham, you must know that, after eating the roasted fresh ham, making a quick ragù with some of the leftovers, and a pork noodle soup with some more, I still have several pounds of roast pork in the freezer. As it happens, I also have an avocado and some limes I need to use before we leave town for the New Year holiday – and that, to me, says Mexican.
“Enchilada” means “to have added chile pepper [to it]” – and enchiladas, found throughout much of Central America, generally are corn tortillas stuffed with a cooked filling, and enrobed in a chile sauce. Sometimes the chile sauce contains tomatoes; sometimes it contains tomatillos; sometimes it contains only chiles. According to Rick Bayless, in their earliest incarnation, enchiladas merely were corn tortillas, often fried in oil, dipped in the chile sauce. When you bake the rolled and filled tortillas in the chile sauce, they become soft, like filled pasta.
Feel free to vary the filling – you can use another protein (if you’re looking to use a vegetable protein, I don’t recommend tofu as it is too moist, but seitan will work and so will cooked beans), or fill the enchiladas with sautéed vegetables, such as onions, green chiles, huitlacoche, and corn. Using a variety of chiles adds complexity, but you need not use these particular chiles – even a couple of canned chipotles with a tablespoon or so of adobo sauce will add rich flavor.
1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced pole to pole
1 lb roast pork (or any other suitable protein), diced 1/4″
8 corn or flour tortillas
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 28-ounce can tomatoes
dried ancho, pasilla, guajillo, chipotle, and/or New Mexico chiles OR several fresh green chiles
salt and pepper
optional – 1 c grated asadero cheese (you can substitute parmesan or another aged grating cheese)
limes, cut into wedges
If using whole chiles, toast in a dry pan until just fragrant and then grind (in a spice grinder) to a powder. If using fresh chiles, hold with tongs over an open gas flame on the stovetop and blacken the skin; transfer to a paper bag to steam for several minutes before removing the stem and skin.
Place a skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 tbsp oil when hot, and add the onion; reduce the heat to medium low; sauté until the onions are translucent and begin to color. Add the diced pork and sauté until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
Place a sauce pot over medium heat. Add about 1 tbsp oil when hot, and add the onion; reduce the heat to medium low; sauté the onions and garlic, and, once translucent and beginning to color, add the ground or diced fresh chiles, and sauté a minute more until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and simmer about 15 minutes. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth; season with salt and pepper to taste.
If using corn tortillas, brush each with vegetable oil and spread onto a sheet pan; place in the hot oven and bake until just pliable, about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven. If using flour tortillas, you may omit this step.
Spread about 1/2 c sauce in the bottom of a casserole or baking dish. Spread about 1/8 of the onion-pork filling lengthwise down the center of a tortilla and roll tightly. Place in the baking dish. Repeat, placing the filled tortillas side by side. Ladle the remaining sauce over the top of the filled tortillas (or most of the sauce; you may have more than you need). Sprinkle cheese, if using it, over the top. Bake until hot through – about 20 minutes.