It’s been a bit of a painful withdrawal from eating out at Alma, a restaurant which dealt no gimmicks except for meticulous flavors, as apparent in their exuberant new Mexican chile sauce.
I figured my odds at making enchiladas that didn’t satisfy were next to none. Hearty, smothery, warm and cheesy, the key to this recipe was using dried red chiles to try to create a smoky, rich flavor. In this case I picked up a bag of dried Chile Guajilla, which are much larger red chiles than the common long, skinny ones, and also much milder. Relative to how much kick you’re looking for, size seems to matter.
A great plus about cooking Mexican is that buying authentic Mexican ingredients is incredibly inexpensive. I find them fairly common in grocery stores and bodegas throughout the city. My local grocery store in Brooklyn had 7 or 8 different varieties of Mexican dried chiles that I couldn’t discern from one another except by their appearance, and several spices such as Mexican oregano. The corn tortillas are also a bang for your buck, at a towering stack of them for 99 cents. They really are a must for enchiladas.
Black Bean Enchiladas with Red Chile
Serves 2-3, good for leftovers
6 authentic Mexican small corn tortillas
8 ounces Monterey Jack or Queso Blanco, shredded
4-8 dried Mexican dried chiles – 8 if using smaller chiles
1 cup diced onion – half a medium onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can black beans
Dash chile powder
Dash basil or parsley (optional)
Cilantro for garnish (optional)
Remove stems and seeds from dried chiles and break into pieces in a bowl. Fill with 2 cups of boiling water and let soak for about 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and sauté half of the diced onions on medium low heat for 3-4 minutes. Add half the garlic. Add pinches of oregano, basil, and fresh cilantro or parlsey. Add chiles with the water they’ve been soaked in and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and pour into food processor – put a bowl underneath the food processor to catch any spills. Blend mixture for 30 seconds or so. Add olive oil if you want to stretch the sauce, and blend again.
Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan, and sauté the rest of the onions. Add the rest of the garlic and the black beans (undrained), and stir on medium heat. Add a few dashes of cumin, chile powder, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and mash beans lightly with spatula 3-5 minutes, adding a bit of water if mixture becomes too dry. Remove from heat at a thick but still moist consistency. In a small casserole or pie pan, roll the corn tortillas half filled with shredded cheese and the bean mixture, and line them against each other in the pan. Pour 3/4 of the sauce over the enchiladas, and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from heat, and serve enchiladas on separate plates with some of the reserved sauce drizzled on top and fresh cilantro.