It’s Not the Whole Enchilada; it’s the Sauce.
When we crave some excellent Mexican food at my house, we usually opt for either enchiladas or tacos. When I make enchiladas, I use different variations to keep things interesting. This version uses a delicious combination of ground beef, poblano chiles, and Oaxaca cheese. While you might think the filling makes the meal, it isn’t the hero in this recipe. Instead, it’s the sauce, and creating your mole/chile sauce makes all the difference. Using a can of store-bought enchilada sauce doesn’t have the depth of flavor you find at good-quality Mexican restaurants.
Using quality fresh, dried chiles is a must. Look for chiles that are leathery and still pliable. Dry roasting the chiles in a hot skillet will add tons of flavor. You can take this a step further and roast all of the ingredients before making this sauce. The flavors will be enhanced when you bring out their essence using heat.
This recipe is the short version of Coloradito Mole. I will publish the definitive longer version later in this blog. I say quick because this dish took me about 1.5 hours to do from scratch. The final version takes about 1.5 hours for the sauce alone. The sauce can be prepared in advance and will blend better overnight, but it is so delicious I usually use it the same day. For this recipe, you can substitute Carne Guisada (Mexican-style beef stew meat), chopped fajita meat, shredded chicken, ground turkey, and shredded pulled pork, or add a vegetarian twist with mushrooms, onions, and squash.
Enchiladas De Ternera Con Mole Coloradito (Beef Enchiladas with Mole Coloradito)
- casserole dish
- broiler safe pan
- measuring cups and spoons
- cutting board
- chef knife
- rubber spatula
- 3 oz ancho chile, dried (seeded/stemmed and reconstituted in hot water)
- ¾ oz guajillo chile, dried (seeded/stemmed and reconstituted in hot water)
- 2 tbsp oil, vegetable/avocado, or any neutral-tasting oil
- ½ whole white onion, minced
- 4 whole garlic, minced
- 1 whole poblano chile, fresh, seeded, and diced
- 2 lbs ground beef You can substitute ground chicken, pork, or turkey
- 1 tbsp cumin, ground
- 1 tbsp Oregano (preferably Mexican, but any oregano will do)
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper, coarse grind
- ¾ cup Oaxaca cheese, shredded can substitute Monterey Jack
Mole Coloradito Sauce
- 2 tbsp oil, avocado, or vegetable
- 3 whole Tomato, plum, cored, and cut in half
- 5 whole Garlic roasted with husks
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds toasted slightly brown in a dry pan
- ¾ oz Mexican chocolate, roughly chopped I used sweetened Goya chocolate
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground clove
- 4 oz chilies, reconstituted
- 1 cup reserved soaking liquid from chiles
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper, coarse grind
Refrying Mole Coloradito Sauce
- ⅓ cup lard or vegetable oil
- 3½ cups Mole Coloradito
- 3 cups Mole Coloradito Sauce, warm
- 12 each corn tortillas, 6"
- beef filling
- ¾ cup Oaxaca cheese shredded for topping
- ⅓ cup cilantro, chopped
- ½ cup Mexican crema/sour cream or plain yogurt
- ½ cup guacamole (see Molcajete Guacamole recipe in this blog)
- ½ cup Additional diced sweet or white onion
- Dry-roast chiles in a hot iron skillet over medium-high heat. To speed up the process, use a spatula to press down on the chiles as they roast. Cook until fragrant and slightly charred from the heat.
Prepare dried chilies
- Cut open the tops of the dried ancho and guajillo chiles. Remove the stems and seeds. Place the dried chiles in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Heat 3 cups of water to just boiling and pour over the chiles. Place a medium-sized plate on top of the chiles to ensure they stay submerged in hot water. Soak for about 30 minutes. After the chiles have softened, pour off 1 cup of the soaking liquid and reserve for sauce. Add the chiles to a blender.
Prepare Beef Filling
- While the chiles are soaking, chop and mince the garlic, poblano, and onion. Heat a skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Once the oil is brought up to temperature or shimmering (never smoking), add the vegetables and cook until just done or soft.
- Add the ground beef and seasonings (cumin, oregano, salt, and black pepper). Cook the meat until done, mixing with the onion mixture. Strain this mixture to remove excess fat and place it into a mixing bowl. Allow cooling. Once the meat is cooled, add Oaxaca cheese, incorporate and reserve.
Prepare Mole Coloradito
- Preheat the broiler oven (500°F or 260°C) and position an oven rack on the top shelf or as close as possible to the broiling element.
- To start the sauce, return to the chiles, and once they have softened, pour off 1 cup of the soaking liquid and reserve for sauce. Next, add the chiles to a blender.
- Broil the vegetables on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil (for easy clean-up). Core and slice the tomatoes in half and add the garlic clove (still in the paper tunic). Drizzle a little oil on the tomatoes. Cook under the broiler until charred, about 7-10 minutes. After the tomato and garlic are cooked, lower the oven to Bake at 350°F or 175°C).
- Peel the garlic cloves and tomato and add to the blender with the reconstituted chiles. Add the toasted sesame seeds, chocolate, ground clove, and cinnamon. Add the reserved chile soaking liquid and the chicken stock. Process the mixture in a blender.
- Once the mole mixture is smooth, strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer over a mixing bowl. Reserve.
- Heat the lard or vegetable oil in a large skillet until hot or shimmering over medium-high heat. Slowly add the strained mole sauce, which will instantly start to sizzle. Continue adding until it is all in the pan, and keep heating until it cooks thoroughly. Reduce the heat and partially cover with a lid. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring often.
Assemble the Enchiladas
- With a large (1/2 sheet pan), one dozen corn tortillas overlapped, brush on a scant amount of oil over each tortilla. Heat in (350°F or 175°C) oven for 3 or 4 minutes until just soft.
- While the tortillas are heating up, add ¾ cup of the Mole Coloradito to a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
- Using a scoop/large spoon or set of tongs, add about 3 tbsp of the meat filling to each tortilla. Roll up each tortilla with the meat mixture and place it into the casserole dish.
- Cover the enchiladas with the remaining sauce and spread out with a rubber spatula to ensure all the tortillas are completely covered. Next, add a layer of plastic wrap or parchment paper, followed by a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
- Bake the enchiladas for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil and plastic wrap. Top with Oaxaca or Monterrey Jack Cheese and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes more until the cheese is melted and slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5-8 minutes.
- For service, plate two enchiladas per plate and garnish (optional) with additional diced onion, Mexican crema (sour cream), guacamole, and fresh chopped cilantro.
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