kitchen firsts: sonoran enchiladas
Last weekend, we borrowed a copy of The Border Cookbook from Stephen’s mom, and I couldn’t wait to get it home and pour over it. Twenty minutes after opening it, I had scanned the whole thing and you could hardly see the cover but for the sticky notes marking must-try recipes on every other page. It was hard to decide what to make first, but the idea of Sonoran Enchiladas was just too enticing to wait for.
I had never heard of a Sonoran enchilada before, but I learned that it is essentially a thick fried tortilla made from corn flour, cheese, and potato that you smother with red sauce, sprinkle with cheese, bake until cheesy gooey, and garnish with yummy stuff like avocados, shredded lettuce, and green onions. We made them within an hour and they turned out delicious! Kind of like little mexican corn cake pizzas! I’m not sure why they’re allowed to be called enchiladas, as there is no rolling and filling of anything (it seems more like a thick tostada to me), but once we started eating them I didn’t really care what they were called.
The kitchen first here is the making of the tortilla cakes using masa harina or corn flour. As we don’t have a tortilla press, I have never experimented with corn tortillas before (although we have done our own flour tortillas), but the making of these tortilla cakes couldn’t be more of a snap. Mix together some corn flour, grated cooked potato, and cheese with some water, baking powder and salt, and you’re good to go! Squish the soft dough into flat cakes, give them a quick fry, and then give them the tostada treatment in the oven and dinner is ready.
For me, the only hangup with this recipe was the stage where you have to lift up the soft shaped corn cakes and get them into the oil. Out of eight tortillas, I managed to ruin two of them at this stage, which was not a problem as we didn’t mind eating the fragments, but it left me wondering if there might be an easier way to do things. Eventually I came up with a strategy of sliding or flipping the corn cakes onto a large spatula and then sliding them off into the hot oil, which was much more successful than doing it by hand, but I think that when I make these again I will probably make them a bit smaller so that they might be less fragile, and then just serve slightly more mini cakes (maybe make 10-12 littler ones rather than 8 larger ones as was suggested by our cookbook).
Adapted from The Border Cookbook
2 cups masa harina or corn flour
2 oz cheddar cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup grated)
1 small baking potato, cooked (we microwaved it), peeled, and grated (about 1 cup grated)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
about 1.25 cups water
vegetable oil, for frying
To bake: red sauce or salsa of your choice (we used a tomato and roasted garlic salsa), and about 2 cups grated cheese (we used a combination of cheddar and pepperjack)
Toppings of your choice, to serve: sliced green onions, sliced avocado, sliced black olives, sour cream, shredded lettuce dressed with a little oil and vinegar, even some refried beans if you want!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the potato, corn flour, and grated cheese with the baking powder and salt. Add in the water, starting with just a cup, and then add more as needed to make a soft, pliable dough that you can work into a tortilla patty (add enough water that it’s neither crumbly nor sticky). If you accidentally put in too much water, you can work in a couple tablespoons of corn flour as needed to dry it back up.
Shape the dough into 10-12 balls, depending on how many you need to serve (if you’re serving 4 I would make 12 so you can give an even three per person, if you’re just eating casually making 10 would be fine). On a sheet of waxed paper, take the balls one at a time and press flat into 1/2 inch thick tortillas. The original recipe called for rolling them with a pin, but I found this unnecessary– just use your hands to pat them flat. Our photos will show the roughly 4 inch diameter we achieved by making eight tortillas, but yours will be slightly smaller.
Heat about 1 inch vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat, until the oil is rippling. Flip one tortilla at a time onto a large spatula and then slide them in to the oil, frying until lightly golden on each side. They will still be sort of chewy on the inside, but crisp on the outside. Place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
When all the tortillas are finished, arrange them on a baking sheet. Spread with red sauce of your choice, sprinkle with grated cheese, and bake 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven, and garnish with the toppings of your choice. Serve immediately!