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Authentic Enchiladas Rojas

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Authentic Enchiladas Rojas are a very popular and traditional Mexican dish where tortillas are coated and immersed in the rich, aromatic flavors of a traditional chili sauce. Making this Enchiladas is versatile, as there are countless variations to fill them with, such as cheese, chicken, beef, and veggies. Before being filled, they are lightly fried in lard until pliable and melt-in-your- mouth tender, with a few crispy edges. 

Authentic enchiladas Rojas on a plate

After being folded or rolled, they are garnished with an array of toppings, showcasing the vibrant colors that Mexican food is known for. Enchiladas Michoacanas are a great example of how a few well-chosen toppings can elevate the experience with the texture and flavor, making it an unforgettable culinary delight. 

How to cook Authentic Enchiladas Rojas

Making Authentic Enchiladas Rojas is straightforward, but there are two popular methods when it comes to cooking them. The first one consist of dipping the corn tortilla in the red chili sauce right before frying it. The second method involves first frying the tortilla, and then submerging it in the simmering sauce. Both methods have their advantages, and locals in Mexico typically have their favorite way. Today, we will be using the first method, dipping the tortilla in the sauce before frying.

Enchiladas Rojas frying on a comal

Frying Authentic Enchiladas Rojas

Frying the enchiladas will deepen and enhance the already existing flavors, plus cause browning for a nutty, toasted corn flavor released by the corn tortilla and smoky qualities from the dried chilis. This cooking process will also allow the tortilla to absorb the flavors from the fat being used. Additionally, you can achieve a bit more crispiness if you leave the tortillas over the heat for a bit longer. 

When frying the coated tortillas, keep in mind that there will be splatter. But these Enchiladas Michoacanas are so irresistibly delicious that it’s hard not to make them. All you have to do is wear clothes you don’t mind staining or an apron that fully covers you, and know you will have to clean the sauce splatter afterward. Cooking is a labor of love, and cleaning pays respect to the work invested in a delicious meal. Let’s just say it’s worth it!

HOw to make Authentic enchiladas Rojas

  • Enchilada sauce
  • Remove the seeds and stem from the guajillo peppers. Toast the peppers on a comal over medium heat just until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Rinse and hydrate in hot water for 5-10 minutes. Guajillos
  • Discard the hot water, blend the peppers with water, garlic, oregano, cumin and salt until smooth. Strain if needed and set aside.Enchilada sauce ingredients
  • Chicken
  • Combine chicken, onion, garlic, cilantro, water and salt in a large pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium low and skim off any impurities that rise to the top. Cover and cook on a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Remove the chicken from the broth and keep it covered.Cook chicken
  • Accompaniment
  • Melt lard in a large pan over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium, add potatoes and carrots, and cook in a single layer until browned, stirring as needed. Halfway though, pour in enchilada sauce and coat well. Add salt to taste and stir occasionally until veggies are cooked through but not mushy. Remove from the heat and keep on the side until needed.
  • Finish chicken 
  • Coat cooked chicken with 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce. Melt 3 TBSP of lard in a large pan over medium-high heat; briefly brown both sides of the chicken, then remove from the heat and keep covered.
  • Enchiladas 
  • Melt lard in a large non-stick pan or comal to coat the bottom. Dip tortilla in sauce, drain excess, and cook on hot lard for about 30 seconds or until pliable. Flip, add your desired amount of onion and cheese to half, fold, and crisp the edges. Repeat on the other side. Remove when hot, soft, and slightly crispy. Repeat with remaining tortillas.Frying enchiladas with filling
  • Serve immediately, topping with cabbage, crema, queso fresco, salsa, pickled jalapeños, and the potato/carrot mixture with a piece of chicken. Optional: pour some hot left over chicken broth over the top.Authentic enchiladas Rojas

Recipe Video Tutorial

Below is my easy to follow video tutorial on how to make this Enchiladas Rojas. It will give you an additional in-depth knowledge and the visuals of the step-by-step process to enhance your understanding. You will also find the video down in the recipe card.

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How to make enchilada sauce

There are several variations of enchiladas sauces, including red, green, and white. In fact, entomatadas are tomato-based, while enfrijoladas are bean-based. They may have different names, but the idea is similar. 

Authentic Enchilada sauce for enchiladas Michoacanas

The red sauce for Authentic Enchiladas Rojas can be made with a single type of Mexico’s dried peppers or a variation of them. Guajillo is a top contender, a mild pepper that pairs well with others and adds a stunning red color to the dish itself. Ancho brings a wealth of flavor, with its distinctive smoky yet slightly sweet qualities. Chiles de arbol provides a touch of heat or go for puya, which is similar in flavor to guajillo but with an added kick. All great peppers but guajillo should be the dominant flavor when it comes to enchilada sauce. 

Villa Cocina Family cooking photo
My grandma’s secret to making the best enchilada sauce is simplicity. A few key ingredients like garlic, and oregano will set your sauce apart from the rest. All the ingredients get blended until completely broken down, and if needed, strained afterward to remove any chili skin. Remember to give the blender enough time to fully break down the ingredients. The enchilada sauce is the foundation of this traditional dish, so it’s essential to make it delicious for the entire dish to shine.

What type of tortilla should I use

Corn tortillas are the traditional choice for this recipe, offering better texture and flavor. They also hold up well when dipped in the sauce and fried. 

To ensure success, choose a thick, sturdy tortilla that can withstand the sauce and heat. Pre-packaged store-bought tortillas often break easily and aren’t suitable. Instead, visit a Mexican tortilleria, a specialized store that makes fresh corn tortillas using custom machinery. These stores typically package hot tortillas in craft paper with their logo.

If you cannot find tortillas nearby, consider making them yourself. While mastering the technique takes time, it’s not impossible – practice makes perfect! Here is my step by step recipe for homemade corn tortillas. It turns out to be a great solution for this Authentic Enchiladas Rojas.

The best tortilla for this recipe is a stale, day-old, cold tortilla, which offers several benefits:

  • Less likely to break 
  • Wont scrape easily 
  • Sturdy structure 
  • Repurposing 
  • Less soggy
  • Soft with crispy edges 
With all these advantages, making them a day ahead is our best bet. 

How to prevent enchiladas from being soggy

  1. Use stale old tortillas, which tend to absorb less moisture and liquid. 
  2. Avoid over-soaking the tortilla with the sauce; dip it in the sauce just until coated and let excess sauce drain back into the container. Then, immediately place the tortilla over the hot oil to start the frying process. 
  3. Experiment with different tortillas. (See tortilla suggestions above) 
  4. Choose a filling that’s moist enough to enjoy but not so wet that it makes the enchiladas soggy. 
Authentic enchiladas Rojas

Substitutions 

Cheese – this traditional Enchiladas Michoacanas call for Queso Fresco, but Cotija, Oaxaca, or Mozzarella are excellent alternatives. Crumbled Queso Fresco and Cotija are ideal for softening when exposed to heat. If you prefer a great melting cheese, grated Oaxaca or Mozzarella are the way to go. 

Lettuce – feel free to use shredded cabbage or iceberg lettuce. 

Fat – pork lard has beed used for traditional enchiladas, but a neutral-flavored oil is a perfect substitution. Avocado oil does a great job! 

Cream – Crema Mexicana is a staple in Mexican cuisine, but sour cream can be used in its place if necessary. 

Chicken selection

In Mexico, we often use the entire chicken, including head, feet, and giblets. Using the entire chicken is believed to add more flavor. Feel free to use any part of the chicken, but I personally prefer bone-in thighs and legs, as the bone adds a lot of flavor. 

Potato tip

If you’re not using potatoes right away, submerging them in water helps: remove excess starch, prevents browning, and keeps them looking fresh. Just drain and dry before cooking to prevent splatter. 

Potato and carrots

Serving Authentic Enchiladas Rojas 

This traditional Enchiladas Michoacanas recipe is best enjoyed hot, so ensure your Enchiladas, potatoes, chicken and broth remain hot. If not, reheat before serving. 

Authentic Enchiladas Rojas

Recipe by Villa Cocina
5.0 from 1 vote
Course: MainCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Medium
Servings

8

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 
Total time

1

hour 

30

minutes

Enchiladas is a very popular and traditional Mexican dish where tortillas are coated and immersed in the rich, aromatic flavors of a traditional chili sauce. Before being filled, they are lightly fried in lard until pliable and melt-in-your- mouth tender, with a few crispy edges. 

Ingredients

  • Enchilada sauce
  • 16 ea 16 guajillo chiles

  • 5 ea 5 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1 TBSP + 1 tsp 1 TBSP + dry Mexican oregano

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 cumin seeds

  • 4 cups 4 water

  • To taste To salt

  • Chicken
  • 3 lbs 3 bone-in chicken thighs and legs

  • 1 ea 1 white onion, halved

  • 1 head 1 garlic, sliced end off

  • 1/2 bunch 1/2 cilantro

  • 8 cups 8 water

  • To liking To salt

  • Accompaniment
  • 1 lb 1 potatoes, medium diced

  • 14 oz 14 carrots, medium diced

  • 3 TBSP 3 pork lard

  • 3/4 cup 3/4 enchilada sauce

  • To taste To salt

  • Filling
  • 1 ea 1 white onion, small diced

  • 24 oz 24 queso fresco, crumbled

  • Other items
  • 26 ea 26 corn tortillas, cold

  • For cooking/frying For pork lard

  • Cabbage
  • 1 head 1 cabbage, shredded

  • Water

  • 1 ea 1 lime

  • Topping
  • Mexican crema

  • Queso Fresco, crumbled

  • Mexican salsa

  • Pickled jalapeños

Directions

  • Enchilada sauce
  • Remove the seeds and stem from the guajillo peppers. Toast the peppers on a comal over medium heat just until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Rinse and hydrate in hot water for 5-10 minutes. 
  • Discard the hot water, blend the peppers with water, garlic, oregano, cumin and salt until smooth. Strain if needed and set aside. 
  • Chicken
  • Combine chicken, onion, garlic, cilantro, water and salt in a large pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium low and skim off any impurities that rise to the top. Cover and cook on a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Remove the chicken from the broth and keep it covered. 
  • Accompaniment
  • Melt lard in a large pan over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium, add potatoes and carrots, and cook in a single layer until browned, stirring as needed. Halfway though, pour in enchilada sauce and coat well. Add salt to taste and stir occasionally until veggies are cooked through but not mushy. 
  • Remove from the heat and keep on the side until needed. 
  • Prep
  • Soak the shredded cabbage in water with a squeeze of lime juice to keep fresh and add tanginess. Drain the amount needed and use. 
  • Finish chicken
  • Coat cooked chicken with 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce. Melt 3 TBSP of lard in a large pan over medium-high heat; briefly brown both sides of the chicken, then remove from the heat and keep covered.
  • Enchiladas
  • Melt lard in a large non-stick pan or comal to coat the bottom. Dip tortilla in sauce, drain excess, and cook on hot lard for about 30 seconds or until pliable. Flip, add your desired amount of onion and cheese to half, fold, and crisp the edges. Repeat on the other side. Remove when hot, soft, and slightly crispy. Repeat with remaining tortillas. 
  • Serve immediately, topping with cabbage, crema, queso fresco, salsa, pickled jalapeños, and the potato/carrot mixture with a piece of chicken. 
  • Optional: pour some hot left over chicken broth over the top. 

Recipe Video

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