No quiero Taco Bell

I live in Houston, also known as Tex-Mex country. You can’t drive 2 blocks without spotting some sort of Mexican restaurant. I’ll admit I may be exaggerating A BIT, but I promise you, not much.

I will also admit I’m not Mexican, though I did play one for a while. See, my ex was born in Mexico and his family moved to Houston when he was 3 or 4 years old. His mother was an excellent cook and would throw down with some off the hook, authentic Mexican fo-shizzle. I was spoiled. By her, but that’s a different and boring story.

I was lucky enough to be able to spend some time with her in the kitchen as she put meals together. To this day I’ve not been able to find any Mexican tamales that can even hold the husk, not to mention a candle to hers, but I’ll keep trying them. I learned to cook Mexican food the way she did it, so even though I wasn’t Mexican at birth, I got a pretty good education in their cuisine for about 11 years.

That said, I’m going to share with you  one of the dishes she made. These are chicken enchiladas with a red sauce, sometimes called ‘salsa ranchera’. I’m sharing the easier version here–meaning you won’t need to steep the chipotle peppers and all that goes with that. We’re going to use the canned stuff, believe me, it works. The other shortcut we’ll take is using a roast chicken or any leftover chicken meat you may have. Pay attention, this is gonna go pretty fast.

Enchiladas de Pollo a la Ranchera

For the Ranchera Sauce:
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cp cilantro, chopped
1 can chipotle peppers
Vegetable oil
Salt & black pepper

For the enchiladas:
12-15 corn tortillas
2-3 cps chicken meat, cooked and shredded
3/4 cp cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cp queso quesadilla, Oaxaca or Jack, shredded
2 cps ranchera sauce, approx
Vegetable oil

Preparing the sauce: In a medium pan heat 1-2 tbsp of oil. Add the onions and cook them over medium high heat until they have soften. Add the garlic, tomatoes, cilantro and about 1 cp of water. Allow this to cook for about 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes begin to soften and disintegrate and the liquid has reduced. Allow this to cool for a few minutes before running it through the blender with the can of chipotle peppers. Puree until smooth, set aside while you roll the enchiladas.


Preparing the enchiladas: Preheat oven to 375°. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add about 1/3 cp of oil. Once the oil is hot, cook the tortillas one at a time.

The goal here is to soften the tortillas enough to be able to roll them without breaking. As they hit the oil, they will bubble up a bit; cook them for about 1 minute on either side before removing them to paper towels to drain. Continue this process until you have softened all the tortillas. Set aside.

Prepare your assembly line: Lay out the shredded chicken, the cheeses and the tortillas. Spread enough of the sauce on the bottom of an oven-safe pan. For this I used a pie Pyrex pan and spread about 3/4 cp of sauce. Just enough to serve as a bed for the enchiladas.

Place a bit of chicken and a bit of cheese on one end of a tortilla and carefully roll the tortilla so you end up with a fat cigar. Don’t put too much filling or you’ll have a hard time managing these babies. Once rolled, place the enchilada seam-side down in the sauced baking pan. Repeat until you’ve used all the tortillas and/or chicken.

If you happen to have some chicken left, sprinkle it over the top of the enchiladas just before topping them with more of the sauce. About 1 more cup. Then top with cheese and put them in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

They will be bubbly and the cheese will be completely melted. If you want to brown the cheese, switch the oven to broil and brown for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Slap them on a plate with some good refried beans and have a margarita to wash it down and you’re golden!

Cookingly yours,

12 thoughts on “No quiero Taco Bell

  1. jay-lo says:

    Lookin good!!! Do you have any healthy flavorful recipes you can share? I need to lose a few pounds but WILL NOT sacrifice good food on weight loss…lol!

    • The best advice I can give you for dieting, is not to. Control your portions, eliminate unnecessary sugars, eat more fruits and veggies and exercise… Indoors! You do live in hell’s waiting room, aka Houston.

      Also, if you do search on my blog, you’ll find posts for lighter stuff. You can also use the tags and/or categories to help you along.

  2. I would not want Taco Bell either. Tell me when you are going to do the tamales. I love tamales and I need a good recipe….Por favor…Que viva Mexico.

  3. lifeinarecipe says:

    OMG! I thought I was going to faint with hunger at the pictures of your enchiladas! The food looks so amazing that I just have to try this recipe! Do you have any suggestion for replacing the chipotle peppers? I do have dried ground chipotle pepper seasoning which would give me the flavor, but would you suggest I add more tomatoes or perhaps some green peppers to the vegetables?
    Thanks for sharing what looks to be another fantastic recipe…boy do I wish we were neighbors! 😉
    Have a good one!

    • OK, I’ve been thinking about this one, Cindy. If you can’t get your hands on the canned or fresh chipotles, I would say:
      a) See if you can find canned red enchilada sauce, then sub that for the chipotle, revving it up with the sofrito (tomato, onion, garlic mix). OR
      b) and for this one I have no point of reference, use more tomatoes-say 4-5 Romas and when you blend the sofrito add some of the chipotle powder you have. How much will depend on how spicy/hot that stuff is and how much of that heat you can take. I’ve never used the chipotle powder and don’t have any at home, all I have is chile arbol powder and that gets spicy pretty quick. However, the sauce using the canned chipotles isn’t spicy, there’s a bit of a bite, but it is not hot.

      I hope this helps and let me know how you solve it.

  4. where were you when i was making crappy enchiladas the other night?? girl, you might not be mexicano, pero, you play the part bueno. muy bueno.

  5. lifeinarecipe says:

    I made these and they were fantastic! They are the story of my blog post today. I can’t wait to try more of your recipes! 😉

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