Even if you’ve never been to Mexico, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with enchiladas, which are one of the most versatile meals available in Mexican cuisine. If you’re okay with corn tortillas, there’s a way to create an enchilada that fits with your personal tastes.

Who Created Enchiladas?

Enchiladas date back to the Mayan civilization, which used to wrap some kind of protein, usually seafood, in a corn tortilla and some kind of sauce. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico, they noticed the foods of the Mayans and took many of them for themselves. That’s likely where the name enchilada comes from, as it translates to “in chiles” in Spanish.

What Makes an Enchilada?

The most important part of any enchilada is the tortilla. This is the one part of the dish that is absolutely not negotiable: an authentic enchilada is always made with corn tortillas, never flour. Home cooks will often use flour for their enchiladas because it’s more easily available than corn tortillas outside of Mexico, but if you’re going for authenticity, a corn tortilla is a must.

You’ll also want to make sure you’ve got some kind of chile sauce for your enchiladas. The kind of chiles you use will depend on the flavors you want to create, but in general, most enchilada sauces will use either red or green chiles. In Puebla, you might get a sauce that uses poblano chiles while Oaxaca will opt for more of mole sauce, featuring pasilla chiles.

What Goes In an Enchilada?

Like most Mexican foods, the answer is almost completely open to the chef’s interpretation. Anything that works well with Mexican flavors can go in an enchilada. For most people, chickenis the most common choice, because chicken is a staple of the Mexican diet. Contrary to what people might expect, beef isn’t as commonly eaten in Mexico, but is still a good choice for enchiladas. If you’re living in a coastal region, you’ll likely be filling your enchilada with shrimp, crab or fish, similar to how the Mayans did it centuries ago.

If you’re looking for a vegetarian version of an enchilada, cheese is an ideal choice, as are mushrooms. You can even go for a bean enchilada if you’d like to go vegan. You can even create a dessert enchilada by pouring pie filling into a tortilla and baking it. The possibilities with enchiladas are truly endless.

How Do You Make Enchiladas?

To make proper enchiladas, you’ll need to start with quality corn tortillas, as well as whatever filling you’re using in them. If you’re going to be using a meat-based protein, you’ll need to season and cook it first, and that’s an excellent chance to add some Mexican flavors and make your meat taste the way you like.

Once your protein is ready, it’s time to wrap it in your tortilla. Be careful with wrapping and don’t overfill; it’s very easy to tear a corn tortilla. After wrapping up your proteins, place your enchiladas in a baking pan and cover with your sauce, which can either be store-bought or homemade. All you have to do after that is bake until the enchiladas are bubbling and you’ll be done. To make it a true Mexican meal, serve it with lettuce, tomato, sour cream and guacamole, which all pair well with enchiladas.

With so few rules around them, it’s little wonder that enchiladas have become such a popular way for people around the world to enjoy the tastes of Mexican cuisine. If you’re looking for a homemade meal to please the entire family, enchiladas are a great choice.

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