Re-Entry Cure: Enchiladas

This is what the sky looked like every day when we were in Utah visiting friends last week. EVERY DAY. The photo above was taken at the top of Brighton, but we hit a few other mountains in the area — Canyons and Solitude — and no matter where we went, that sky followed us. Like it knew something. Like it saw the New-Yorkers-Who-Always-Question-New-York coming and decided to launch an all-out campaign to convince us to just move out West already. I mean, really guys, that sky said, is it even a contest?

New York, true to form, was two degrees when we landed on Thursday at midnight. And though I really try my hardest to keep this space free of bad-weather-whining (that seems to be what my Facebook feed is for) I can’t take it anymore. The permanent slate-gray sky; the pile of salt-crusted boots choking up the front entrance; the girls’ stir-craziness that results from not having access to the backyard; the screen times rules that have completely broken down because of the backyard situation; the instagram-envy I feel every time I see the sun shining in someone else’s picture; the cry-for-help texts from Andy that are becoming more and more frequent (“I’m not strong enough” and, just minutes ago, presumably on his walk through Midtown: “Not sure I can do this today.”)

I realize I’m being ridiculous. And ungrateful. We are lucky to have friends who live in beautiful places so we can visit them and then…maybe…contemplate…staying…forever. And we are lucky that it’s almost March, which is the first month of spring (in name, at least) and that the sun is setting later and later, which means that I can take my dinner pictures in natural light instead of under flat countertop bulbs. (What? You hadn’t considered this perk?) And we are SO INCREDIBLY LUCKY that we were down to our last teaspoon of chili powder on Saturday night — mood-lifting enchiladas were on the menu — forcing us to dig deep in our pantry to uncover a jar of red mole paste that had been sent to me from Guelaguetza, an LA-based Oaxacan restaurant. I swear I do not know the owner and I am not being paid, but I will say that the resulting dinner was one of those meals, which, mid-first-bite, I was thinking: When can we make this again? Who can we make it for? Will the mole freeze? Will I be able to get more? Andy has made enchiladas before and they have always been good, but the paste added an entirely new rich — dare I say, authentic — dimension to them. I am no Rick Bayless, but something tells me this has to do with the 50+ ingredients listed on the jar’s label — not additive-type ingredients. Ingredient-type ingredients: chocolate, bread, walnuts, sesame seeds, raisins, cinnamon, salt, garlic, cilantro seeds, pine nuts, ginger, avocado leaves, cumin, peanuts, and dozens of chiles in every possible form. We smothered those enchiladas with mole and grated cheddar, finished with red onion and cilantro, and had ourselves a feast. If ever there was a cure for New York Winter Vacation Re-Entry — and I’m not saying there is one — I’m pretty sure this would be it.

So the light on this photo doesn’t exactly make for the most appetizing looking enchilada, but don’t let that fool you. It might just be the tastiest dinner we’ve had all year.


Here’s a shot of the Mole Rojo. It looks a little different on the website because they just redesigned the label. The Mole paste keeps in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. After that point, you can freeze it for up to six more months.


Re-Entry Enchiladas

3 boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin
few plugs of olive oil
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
juice from 1/2 lime
1 14-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder (we used a teaspoon because it was all we had, but a little more would be good)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup Mole Rojo paste (we used Guelaguetza brand, but you can find mole paste in Mexican groceries or better supermarkets)
1/2 cup chicken broth
6 tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup queso fresco (or cotija) plus more for serving

Preheat oven to 375°F. Marinate chicken in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and lime juice. Set aside. In a saucepan, heat tomato sauce, 1/2 cup water, oregano, chili powder, bay leaf, garlic and onion powder. Simmer for about 15 minutes, then add mole paste and chicken broth and stir until dissolved. Simmer another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill chicken over medium-high heat (outside or on a cast-iron grill pan), about 10 minutes. (The chicken doesn’t have to be totally cooked through.) Lay out tortillas on a cutting board or countertop. Cut the chicken into strips. and place into the center of each tortilla, roll from both sides, and set into baking dish, seam-side down (as shown below). Smother with mole sauce (to taste) and shower with cheddar and 1/2 cup queso fresco. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbly.


Top with red onion (or scallions) and cilantro and more cotija cheese if desired. Serve.

Other Utah food highlights: Eggs in the City (Salt Lake City) for breakfast; a mid-day Yard Sale Winter Lager at Brighton; Copper Onion for dinner (SLC)

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110 Comments

Ivy

Wait until you try them with corn tortillas. I mean, not that baked smothered burritos aren’t lovely…

Can you get fresh roasted, real Hatch green chilies in New York? I wouldn’t want to live anywhere where you couldn’t.

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A Life From Scratch

I love this! We visit Big Sky, MT and the sky gets me EVERY. TIME. The kids and I are having a rough time this winter in Chicago, it’s just so……..painful. And gross. It’s been 6 days since my boys can even go outside to play i.e. my house is destroyed.

Something about these enchiladas though – they might make up for that?

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Nicole

Hi Jenny! These sound delish! Any suggested substitutions for the mole? I know it’s a key ingredient but we have a nut allergy in the house.
Thanks,
Nicole

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Courtney

Recently the enchilada recipes I’ve made with flour tortillas have been turning out really mushy. I thought that the trick was to use corn tortillas, but it looks like your recipe uses flour. Do you have any suggestions about how to keep the enchiladas from getting that mushy consistency even with flour tortillas?

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Phaedra

The enchiladas look amazing …even for those of us that live on the west coast and are enjoying that blue sky consistently this winter.

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hydeeann

i think every location has those times of year when we question the sanity of our abode! like, we live in the desert where there is nothing green naturally, are no traditional four seasons, and it’s summer times ten half of the year or more. all that “dry heat” aside, it’s miserable because the kids can’t go outside and screen time limitations, etc. i totally get your angst and whining. it’s valid. on the upside, my oldest daughter was asking for enchiladas this week and i’m betting this will hit the spot! we do have lots of mexican ingredients available in our desert. and this time of year, those amazing skies and fresh citrus just outside the back door in our own yard. just saying.

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Rebbie

As a life-long New Mexican, I can appreciate that sky. I can probably count on one hand the number of days that we don’t see the sun in a year. Come visit anytime. I’ll introduce you to the REAL enchilada. No tomato sauce or paprika to be found in ours.

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Kelli

#newsletter I LOVE mole! I recently did a search for the best mole in Denver and found the best hole in the wall restaurant!

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Melissa

Anyone else think of the Austin Powers scene when he’s just repeating, “Mole-y, mole-y, mole-y!” when they read about mole sauce??? Just me??? would love to try this mole, though! #newsletter

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Kathy

I cracked up over this entry! We feel your pain in Michigan. Enchiladas may be just what my family needs to get over this freezing cold slump in Michigan…#newsletter

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Awads

I feel ya! Not getting any warmer in DC either. We are coping with lots of home cooking and books! Reading “Opposite of Spoiled” right now and taking notes in the margins! I need some mole in my life. #newsletter

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Maggie

This recipe sounds delicious. And using mole would be an awesome change-up from my enchiladas verdes or enchiladas with tomato salsa! #newsletter

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Marthalynn

That mole looks so good! And the recipe is exactly what I’m looking for tonight – comforting, savory, filling. Glad to know I can freeze the mole if I don’t finish it in 6 months. I have so many ingredients I’ve purchased for a recipe that are filling up the doors of my fridge! #newsletter

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Erin Anderson

Mole is one of my favorites. This sounds delicious, and much easier than making it completely from scratch. I used to live out west, and I think I miss the sun and blue skies almost as much as the mountains. The sun in winter here in the Midwest usually means it is too cold to spend time outside.#newsletter

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Debra Griffin

#newsletter
Those enchiladas look so tasty!! If only it were possible to taste yours before I make some. 🙂

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Elizabeth

The mole looks amazing and would go great with some roasted chicken and veggies I love to make. Thanks so much for your blog. #newsletter

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Julia Hart

Your pitch sold me. I just got online and ordered a 3 pack sampler today! I cannot wait for it to arrive. Even more would be fabulous! #newsletter

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Jessica

This is brilliant! Enchiladas are a go-to at my house, but I’ve never used mole. Thanks for the great idea. #newsletter

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Lori

#newsletter

Love enchiladas! Vacation is all about eating when I dont do the cooking, and coming home is fun to get back n the kitchen again. It’s all about food, either way.

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Ashley

#newsletter No joke, I could eat mole with a spoon. It’s one of my very favorite things! 🙂

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Emily

Enchiladas rule at our house, b/c I can fill up our three teenagers with 2 13X9 pans of them and we’re all happy. That doesn’t happen with too many other meals. I want to try this mole paste!
#newsletter

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Christopher Sorel

Love enchiladas and making them at home would be great. Hard to find a good mole Rojo sauce though #newsletter

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Sarah

These look fabulous! I just ventured into uncharted territory and did chile verde carnitas enchiladas for a dinner party, and have since been jonesing to try even more. #newsletter

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merie

A couple times a year I think about making mole, and then I remember how long it takes form scratch…but, man, those look delicious! #newsletter

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Michelle

Adding enchilada ingredients to my grocery list. Thanks for the easy recipe! #newsletter

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Meaghan A

We have never tried cooking with Mole sauce, but this makes me want to try! #newsletter

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Dawn S

Mole’s such a great idea – I’ll have to think of that next time we make enchiladas!

#newsletter

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Feisty Harriet

I am so glad you went to both Eggs in the City AND Copper Onion, two of my faves!! I also am glad that Salt Lake pulled out the blue sky stops for you instead of our February standard which is smoggy muck bordering on (or well in to) the toxic range. 😉

But, you know, if you moved here I’m sure the smog would dissipate.

xox

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Libby

It’s SO COLD in Maine! I would love a taste of mole to remind me that warmth exists in the world… somewhere… #newsletter

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Melissa M

Can I just make a suggestion to take your enchiladas to the next level? My mom’s are, of course, my favorite. She makes them the way her mother-in-law, taught her too and they are incredible. But a lot of work. What she does is fries corn tortillas until they have the slightest crisp and are maliable, dips the tortilla in the sauce which is still warm in the pan, which she then puts them on the dinner plate and fills them with the meat of choice and a little monterey jack cheese. Then she simply folds the tortilla over instead of rolling it. She’ll spoon a little more sauce on top and tops them with grated cotija and a little shredded iceberg and serves them immediately. No baking time required. She has to do that for every plate so it’s not ideal for a dinner party but made this way, they are hands down, THE BEST enchiladas.

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Lisa Hathaway

Reading this post made me want to go hunt down a local store that carries mole and try it out. Looks delicious – I’d love to try some! #newsletter

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Sandy

I love mole but it is a daunting task to make it from scratch….the enchiladas look great and pretty painless to make.

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Tracy Miller

My kids (and husband) aren’t fans of anything too spicy. Do you think this mole is spicy/hot? The website calls it the “spicier sister” of their black mole sauce. I’m thinking of trying it with the black mole. Thoughts?

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Tracy Miller

My kids (and husband) aren’t fans of anything too spicy. Do you think this mole is spicy/hot? The website calls it the “spicier sister” of their black mole sauce. I’m thinking of trying it with the black mole. Thoughts?

#newsletter

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Tenely

#newsletter Enchiladas are a family favorite for us. Will love to try this version. Looks like you use flour tortillas? (I usually use corn for Enchiladas).

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Cay

Aw man! We’ve been socked in here in Brooklyn too, with a week of break and no skiing, even east coast grey sky ice skiing. That picture kills me. But those enchiladas might just bring me back to life! #newsletter

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Nora

Traditional enchiladas are never made with flour tortillas, not in Mexico or in Tex-Mex restaurants. A flour tortilla stuffed and smothered in sauce is a burrito, and if it’s fried it’s a chimichanga, but neither one of those are traditional Mexican dishes.

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Melissa M

While I agree they aren’t traditional, I also don’t see anywhere that she’s touting these as such, I think its just a yummy recipe she wanted to share with her readers that her family enjoyed. 🙂

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emily

I’ve made mole – once – and it really does have that many ingredients. It is time intensive, but oh so worth it. These enchiladas sound delicious!

#newsletter

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A

Is this new redesign not optimized for the iPad? It flashes between black and white backgrounds, text scrunches…it doesn’t seem to settle. What is up???

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Danielle

This looks delicious! Is there a Mole recipe or substitute you can suggest for someone who’s allergic to nuts?

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Kate

I hear you. Is it me, or has this been the most depressing winter ever?!! I am seriously contemplating buying one of those lights that is supposed to make you feel like a normal person in the winter. Or maybe I should just make these enchiladas, they look like they could boost my spirits just as easily.

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Amy

Soooo good! My husband and I made these for dinner last night and loved every bite!
We live in WI and were so excited to have them that we didn’t take the time to order the Guelaguetza mole….but maybe I will for next time! We ended up going with a less-exciting mole option that we found at a local Mexican grocer, but it made a delicious sauce all the same! Such a yummy winter meal!

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Becca

This is where I ski! I’m a longtime reader who’s been a little shy to post (possibly because I’m a little sheepish to be a 24 year old single gal reading a family cooking blog) but I couldn’t help it this time.

My current plan for dinner involves over-roasting a head of broccoli, a trick that I (like you!) learned by mistake :D.

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LeeAnn

The enchiladas look very good. How spicy is the Red Mole sauce? Wanted to know as my daughter doesn’t care for spicy food.

Thank you.

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