I can’t remember one single instance in my life where my mom actually showed me how to cook anything, let alone how to make homemade enchilada sauce. But I watched her make homemade enchiladas my whole life, and I’ve been eating this sauce on everything from tostadas, to tacos, tamales, and enchiladas since I was a little girl. I’ve even reinvented it to make a homemade Tortilla Soup. I spent my childhood experiencing delicious, heartwarming, comfort food made for me with love.
Quite frankly, I believe the most valuable lessons in life are experienced rather than taught.
So a couple of tips about this recipe:
This enchilada sauce is made from dried Hatch chile powder. However, you could also use mild chile powder from the spice section of your grocery store, or you could try a combination of dried New Mexico chiles found in those little clear plastic packets in the Mexican aisle at your grocery store (not sure if you have that aisle, but we have it in California). I would also suggest that if you use mild chile powder that you would also add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper to give it a little heat to taste. When adding your oregano, always rub it between your palms to release all its flavor, at least that is what I saw my mom doing…
If cheesy chicken enchiladas are what’s for dinner, who says they can’t be healthy? I use spinach or kale in the enchiladas so that I don’t have to add another vegetable on the side. Be sure to cook it long enough to remove all the moisture so that your enchiladas are not soggy.
Part of the reason I think more people don’t make homemade enchiladas is because it’s too much work, but it’s really not. I skip the step of frying the tortillas because I just don’t taste the difference and not frying is both a time and calorie saver.
Another way I cut calories in the enchiladas is by using 2% cheese, honestly will all this flavor you will not taste the difference.
If you love to have extra sauce on the side, I would suggest doubling the recipe for the sauce. This sauce is also amazing cooked with diced potatoes and then served with fried eggs and tortillas for breakfast. You can also use it to make “wet” burritos, chilaquiles, and is the absolute best base for braising pork, then shredding the pork for tamales. You might even want to try it as Tortilla Soup.
|How to make homemade enchilada sauce||
- Splash of olive oil
- 6 cups baby spinach leaves, about 6 handfuls
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup whole wheat white flour or all purpose white flour
- 2 Tablespoons mild chili powder (found in the spice aisle) or ground New Mexico chili (found in the Mexican food section of the market) or ground Hatch Chili powder (available through Melissa’s produce branded under the name Don Enrique)
- ¼ cup organic tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 4 garlic cloves minced or pressed
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth, warmed
- 3 cups finely shredded chicken
- 1 ½ cups, about 5 ounces – loosely packed 2% low-fat Mexican blend shredded cheese – ½ cup reserved for top,
- 10 – 6″ corn tortillas
- Fresh cilantro roughly chopped for garnish
- Light sour cream or Greek Yogurt for garnish
- Onion- roughly chopped for garnish
- Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over low/medium heat; add in oil; and once hot, add the spinach. Cook spinach until wilted and most of the moisture has cooked out, about 4 – 6 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, then remove from the pan and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any remaining moisture. Once the spinach has cooled, give it a rough chop.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Lightly oil 9×13 baking pan and set aside.
- In a small bowl mix tomato paste, cumin, oregano, garlic, salt & pepper, and bay leaf – stir to combine and set aside
- Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat; add in oil and onions, sweat the onions with a pinch of salt for 1 – 2 minutes or until they become slightly translucent.
- Add in the ¼ cup of flour and chili powder and stir to combine, cook for 1 minute- stirring constantly.
- Add in tomato paste mixture and stir to combine, cook for an additional minute.
- Slowly add in hot broth in thirds, while whisking to dissolve the flour and tomato paste mixture. Continue whisking until all of the broth is incorporated and the lumps are out ( there will be some bumps in the sauce from the onions).
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- In a medium bowl combine chicken, spinach, and 1 cup of cheese, mix in 1 cup of sauce.
- Stack tortillas and wrap in damp paper towels or a clean dish towel; microwave on high for 2 minutes.
- Spoon 1 cup of enchilada sauce onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
- Fill each tortilla with a heaping ¼ cup of filling; roll up tightly and arrange, seam side down, in prepared baking dish.
- Pour remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of cheese.
- Cover with foil and place into the preheated oven for 10 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 5 additional minutes uncovered
- Serve warm with fresh cilatnro, chopped onions, and sour cream.