To feature a red Mexican dish, I chose Enchiladas potosinas, a unique rendition of enchiladas from the state of San Luis Potosí. As I have mentioned before, an enchilada is a tortilla in/with chile sauce; most enchiladas are dipped or covered in the sauce, then typically finished with cheese, onions and sometimes lettuce and cream. For the Potosi style, in an almost youthful, opposite-day fashion, a chile paste is mixed with the dough before forming the tortillas and, instead of covering them, more chile paste goes inside, where the cheese and onions become part of the filling, as well. Just to add to the fun twist, shredded lettuce serves as a bed for these beautiful treats.
In San Luis Potosi, as in other Mexican Northern states, ancho peppers are favoured with fervid passion, both for their intense red tone, and also for their characteristic flavour, strong and deep, but with just a touch of hotness.
Red Dough Enchiladas (Potosi Style) –
6 ancho peppers; wiped clean, stems and seeds removed
1 ½ cups water
1 cup corn flour (also known as: maize flour, masa harina, nixtamalized corn flour; it is not the starch, check my Corn Flour and Masa 101 post if in doubt, I used Bob’s Red Mill™ yellow corn masa harina)
¼ tsp salt
1 cup unripened cheese, such as añejo, panela or light feta; crumbled
½ cup onion; finely chopped
1 tsp oil, plus more for frying
Mexican cream (or sour cream diluted with a little milk); optional
Bring water to boil in a sauce pan over high heat. Meanwhile, roast cleaned peppers on a dry (no oil) skillet, flipping and turning frequently so they do not burn, just until they start to turn a lighter tone, and swell slightly (photo below, left); remove promptly from heat, and add to the boiling water (photo below, right):
Remove pan from heat, and let peppers soak, uncovered, until the water cools down. Process peppers, salt, and 1/2 cup of the cooled soaking liquid in the blender until smooth. Strain the paste through a mesh, to separate solid bits (photo below, left). The paste should be very smooth and with the consistency of ketchup (photo below, right):
Discard solids from the mesh and reserve paste. Place corn flour in a bowl, and pour 3/4 cup of the soaking liquid (*see note) from the peppers:
Mix thoroughly with a spatula, then form into a ball; the dough will be firm and slightly coloured by the soaking liquid (photo below, left). Add one tablespoon of the reserved ancho paste; again, mix with spatula, then hands, to form a ball (photo below, centre). This process may be repeated, one or two more times; the dough will become darker and softer; I added only one more tablespoon of paste (so 2 tablespoons total, photo below, right):
* NOTE: The tone will darken when cooked, and too much paste will soften the dough too much; however, if an even darker colour is wanted in the dough, reduce the amount of soaking liquid added at the beginning to 1/2 cup, to allow for more paste.
Cover dough with a napkin and let rest for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, warm up one teaspoon of oil in a small frying pan oven medium heat, and sauté onions until translucent, even slightly caramelized. Place crumbled cheese in a bowl, and add onions (photo below, left) and a tablespoon of the ancho paste (photo below, right):
Mix all together; again, to taste, add more paste, one tablespoon at a time, to obtain a flavourful mix for the filling. In the photos below, my filling after adding one tablespoon (left) and two tablespoons, total (right):
Set up an assembly station with the reserved red dough, cheese filling, tortilla press with plastic film (or if press not available, a plastic film on table and a cutting board to press on top) and a tray or plate. Divide dough into 12 portions, and keep covered as the tortillas are formed. Roll one portion of dough into a ball, place on the press, cover with plastic and flatten into a disc; unstick both sides of the tortilla from the plastic film, then scoop one generous tablespoon of filling onto the centre (see photo below). Fold plastic film over to form the tortilla into a half circle, and press edges together. Transfer to tray (see photo below), and repeat with the rest of the dough:
Once all the half circles are formed, grill on the dry skillet, about one minute per side; flip when the dough is not sticking to the skillet any more. Do this step in batches to allow for plenty of room to flip the half circles carefully (photo below, left) . Wipe any onion residue from the small frying pan, and add enough oil to cover the bottom, and preferably have about 1/4 inch depth (I use the smallest pan I have, to use as little oil as possible). Place over medium-high heat until the oil ripples but it is not smoking, then reduce heat to medium; fry two patties at a time, just for a few seconds per side, flipping with two spatulas (photo below, right):
Remove onto a plate with paper towels; continue frying in small batches. The enchilada will get crispy and now have a rich red tone, but should not be too crunchy:
I served them on a bed of shredded lettuce and, to complete the Mexican national colours theme (green, white and red), I added cream on top, but that is optional:
My husband is not a giant fan of ancho peppers in general, but loved these enchiladas, and even labeled this recipe as “a keeper” (his best endorsement.)
I am bringing my recipe to Thursday Favourite Things #455 with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Nina @ Vintage Mama’s Cottage, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance, Pam @ An Artful Mom and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode. Special thanks to Bev for featuring my Banana Bread at her party.