Cooking Like A Mexican

Enchiladas potosinas
BY: ALE BORBOLLA

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I have just been to San Luis Potosi, a city located in North-Central Mexico. It is bordered by no less than eight other Mexican states, making it the state with the most borders with other neighboring states. While I was there, I knew I had to eat enchiladas Potosinas from a local place, preferably a traditional Mexican market. I have had them before, but usually the frozen kind that friends and family had brought for me from their travels.

I have always been amazed at how many enchilada recipes there are, and pretty much every city, region or state has their own. Some are similar, some are extremely unique. These that I had are more of the unique kind in flavor, but look quite regular.

The story of this dish goes back to the 1900’s with a lady called Cristina Jalomo who was born in Soledad, a small town in the outskirts of San Luis Potosi. Mrs Jalomo went to her regular tortilla joint, to get her masa since she liked “slapping” her own tortillas (slapping means making them by hand or in a tortilla press and “slapping” them on to the comal). The masa she got was a little orange because the mill had just ground some chiles. Cristina took it home anyway, not realizing she would be the author of one of the most popular dishes in Mexican cuisine.

When Mrs. Jalomo made the first tortillas with her accidentally orange masa, her family was fascinated: the tortillas tasted like Soledad’s cascabel chiles, a clear, strong taste and not too spicy. From then on, she always asked her masa to be ground with some of cascabel peppers. Cristina started experimenting with her bomb tortillas, making quesadillas, but not the ones you’re probably thinking: the kind of quesadillas that are made of masa, sealed with cheese in them and fried, topped with sour cream and crumbled queso fresco.

The enchiladas were so successful, Cristina Jalomo started selling them first from her home and eventually from a little cart on the main plaza in Soledad on Sundays and festive days. Nowadays, the third generation of her family is in charge of production, and they have found the way to make them, package them, and freeze them so people could take them home and prepare them themselves. These are not tacos, made with orange masa nor art they quesadillas, they’re a special in-between that conquers every person who tries them. Do these right, and they’re very special.

Ingredients for the masa:

7 oz of ancho chiles, lightly toasted and deveined and deseeded.

3 cloves of garlic, whole.

3 pounds of fresh masa. (can be store bought or made from maseca, but I recommend the one from a tortilleria).

Salt to taste

For the enchilada stuffing:

Half a cup of finely chopped onion.

33 oz of water

10 green tomatoes, peeled.

Serrano peppers to taste.

2 cups of añejo cheese. (aged queso fresco)

½ cup of finely chopped cilantro.

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

DO NOT ADD SALT, unless you have tasted it and feel it needs more flavor, as queso añejo is very salty.

For the enchiladas:

2 cups of pork lard (can be substituted by vegetable oil)

Sour cream.

Crumbled queso fresco.

Avocado.

Preparation for the masa:

Soak the chiles for twenty minutes and save the water after draining them.

In a blender, puree the chiles with the garlic, salt and a little bit of the chile water. The consistency should be of a paste but not runny. 

Knead the masa with the chile paste, until uniform.

Make golf ball sized balls and let rest covered by a plastic, while you make the stuffing.

Preparation for the stuffing:

Boil the water and add the green tomatoes, garlic, serrano peppers and onion, cook for 25 minutes.

Drain the water and keep aside.

In a blender, puree the tomatoes, garlic, peppers and onions that you cooked, until a thick salsa is formed.

In a saucepan, lightly fry the salsa, until it reaches the boiling point and becomes a little thicker.

Add the crumbled cheese and remove from heat.

Mix until uniform.

To make the enchiladas

The masa balls that were resting are flattened into tortillas, about 2 or 3 mm thick so they don’t break.

The tortillas are cooked in a comal only for a few seconds, and then a spoonful of studding is placed in the middle, pinching the edges so it doesn’t come out.

In a sauce pan, place the lard or oil and bring to enough temperature for frying. Test by dropping a small ball of masa. It should bubble instantly.

Fry the enchiladas keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Drain and serve.

Decorate with sour cream, crumbled cheese and avocado slices.

These can be served with refried beans.