I feel like this recipe needs to come with a bright red warning, Spicy! Beware!! When my boyfriend had my enchiladas for the first time his cheeks began to sweat and I found that I am becoming more like my father in that I like my food very spicy. I have provided suggested substitutions to keep the flavor but loose some of the heat or you could add a nice dollop of sour cream to mellow out the flavors (even better with a squirt of fresh lime juice!). Chipotle chilies are hard to find here in Australia and I have yet to discover a local source. I do know that this store based in Melbourne has them in stock and will ship them to those of you in Sydney. I am lucky my friends and family can easily buy cans of them at the grocery store in the States so I am able to stock up when I have visitors. The smoky flavor of the chipotle chili is what really makes this dish one of my absolute favorites!

Diego Rivera, Woman Grinding Maize, 1924
encaustic on canvas, 106.7 x 121.9 cm, Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City

Diego Rivera is the world famous Mexican muralist who was an active Communist and was married to Frida Kahlo. His giant frescoes often tell a story which is similar in tradition to the Mayan steles. The subjects revolve around Mexican society with many references to the 1910 revolution. Characteristic to his style were simple figures composed of bold colours with Aztec influences (1). Growing up in Michigan I was very familiar with Rivera’s work due to the Detroit Industry frescoes found on the walls of the inner courtyard of the Detroit Institute of Arts (view here). The series of 27 panels was considered by Rivera to be his most successful work and dealt with themes of labour, Marxism and technology (2). During the 1950’s a sign was placed in the centre of the room explaining the fresco’s artistic merit while denouncing its subject matter due to Rivera’s political beliefs.

An enchilada is a tortilla (typically corn) rolled around a filling and covered with a chili sauce. In Spanish, the word enchilada is the past participial of the verb enchilar meaning “to add chili pepper to.” Enchiladas have a very long history and are thought to have originated in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico where they were documented by Spanish conquistador. The first printed recipe is from a Mexican cookbook dating back to 1831. There are many variations including enmolada (with mole sauce), entomatada (with tomato sauce), enfrijolada (with refried beans), and enchilada montada (topped with an egg) (3). Be creative with the filling, this is a very forgiving recipe!

{Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas}

This spicy dish is perfect with an icy cold, frozen watermelon margarita. The leftovers are just as tasty when reheated and the dish will keep 2 to 3 days when stored in the refrigerator.

Yield: 4 servings

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 cup frozen corn
5 jalapeno chilies (pickled)
4 chipotle chilies
1 can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican chili spice
1/2 rotisserie chicken, shredded
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce (recipe below)
10 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
cilantro/lime/sour cream to serve

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pan add oil and saute onion and garlic over medium high heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Once soft, add corn and chilies and cook for an additional minute. Stir well and add the canned tomatoes and spices. Shred the rotisserie chicken and add to the saute pan. Dust with flour to help thicken and set, cook for 2 to 3 minutes until all of the ingredients are heated through.

Coat the bottom of the baking pan with 1/5 of the enchilada sauce. Pour 1/2 of the remaining sauce onto a large plate and dip each tortilla in the sauce coating both sides. Fill each tortilla with the 1/2 cup of the chicken and vegetables mixture. Roll the tortilla around the filling and place in the baking pan seam side down. Repeat with the remaining 9 tortillas until the baking pan is full.

Pour the reserved enchilada sauce as well as the remaining sauce from the plate over the rolled tortillas. Top with the shredded cheese and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the entire dish is heated through and the cheese is toasted.

Serve with cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and sour cream.

{Enchilada Sauce}

2 tablespoons hot chili powder
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cups water
1 can crushed tomatoes

Add all of the ingredients to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk to remove any lumps and cook until it has reduced by 1/3, about 5 to 10 minutes. This is a very spicy sauce, substitute with mild chili powder to reduce the heat while maintaining the flavor.