Enchiladas Zacatecanas

This chile pepper is often mislabeled ‘Pasilla’, which is a different pepper entirely.It is one of the most popular chiles in Mexico and has won the appreciation of many a chef worldwide because of the superior flavor it has over regular bell peppers.

They have a tough outer skin that usually requires roasting and peeling before use. These very large chile peppers are most popular in chiles rellenos recipes, but cooking with these as a substitute for bell peppers in any recipe will enhance the flavor.

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For the chicken filling:

1 whole frying chicken, giblets and excess fat removed
1/2 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried marjoram
4 sprigs cilantro
1-1/2 tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. tomato sauce
1-1/2 tsp. of salt or to taste

Zacatecana Sauce:

4 poblano chiles
1-1/4 cups grated Monterey Jack
1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus some for frying
2 flour tortillas, torn in quarters
1-1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
10 corn tortillas (white-corn or other good quality)


For the chicken filling:

Put the whole chicken, sliced onion, whole garlic clove and 1 Tbsp. of salt in a pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the chicken is done, about 30 minutes (it will be cooked more later). Remove the chicken from the pot and let it cool. Reserve the broth. Remove the meat from the bones and shred.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add all the remaining ingredients except for the tomato sauce and salt, and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the shredded chicken and saute briefly. Add the tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of reserved broth. Taste before adding the salt.

For the Zacatecana Sauce:

Roast the chiles over an open flame until blackened. Let them cool to the touch, then (wearing rubber gloves) rinse under running water to remove skin. Seed and devein chiles and tear into several pieces. Place in a blender with 1 cup water, 1/4cup cheese, 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, 1 Tbsp. of sour cream and the flour tortillas. Puree until smooth. Add some water if necessary; the sauce should be moderately thick and pourable.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the sauce and salt, reduce the heat to low and simmer, lightly bubbling, for 5 minutes.

To serve:

Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet or saute pan and quickly fry the corn tortillas for 2 seconds on each side. Fill the tortillas with chicken and roll them up. Place the enchiladas on plates, seam side down. Pour the sauce on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Garnish with dollops of the remaining sour cream. Makes 8-10 plump enchiladas.

Recipe from Las Manitas, Austin.