Chicken Enchiladas in Red Chile Sauce Recipe | SAVEUR

Oaxacan Red Chile Enchiladas (Enchiladas de Chile Ajo)

These classic Oaxacan-style enchiladas, stuffed with chicken and doused in a sweet chile-and-garlic sauce, come from Iliana de la Vega, chef-owner of El Naranjo in Austin, Texas.

On charring fresh ingredients "The reason we char tomatoes, fresh chiles, onions, and garlic before adding them to a dish like the enchiladas de chile ajo is to concentrate the flavor, especially when they are underripe. It also adds a subtle smoky depth to the overall flavor of the dish. I cook them on a comal or skillet over medium-high heat, or under a broiler, until the skins are blackened and, in the case of tomatoes, the flesh is soft." —Hugo Ortega, chef-owner of Hugo's in Houston, Texas

Oaxacan Red Chile Enchiladas (Enchiladas de Chile Ajo)
These classic Oaxacan-style enchiladas, stuffed with chicken and doused in a sweet chile-and-garlic sauce, come from El Naranjo in Austin, Texas.
serves 6-8


3 oz. dried guajillo chiles
8 cloves garlic, peeled
6 plum tomatoes, cored
2 serrano chiles, stemmed
12 large white onion, cut into 12" slices, plus 1 medium white onion, minced
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. canola oil
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
14 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
14 stale bolillo (see Mexico's Daily Breads) or 1 slice white sandwich bread, toasted and crumbled
14 cup finely chopped piloncillo or packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
18 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 12 cups shredded cooked chicken
34 cup crumbled Cotija, plus more to garnish
Sliced white onion rings and cilantro leaves, to garnish
Kosher salt, to taste


Heat a 12" skillet over high heat, and add chiles. Cook, turning once, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover with 3 cups boiling water; let sit until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid, and remove stems and seeds. Transfer chiles to a blender along with 1 12 cups soaking liquid; purée until smooth, and set chile purée aside.
Return skillet to high heat, and add garlic, tomatoes, chiles, and large onion slices. Cook, turning as needed, until vegetables are lightly charred all over, about 8 minutes for the garlic, 14 minutes for the tomatoes, chiles, and onion slices. Transfer vegetables to a bowl, and let cool. Return skillet to high heat, and add 1 tbsp. oil; add chile purée, and fry, stirring constantly, until thickened to a paste, about 12 minutes. Return paste to blender along with vegetables, stock, oregano, thyme, pepper, and bread; purée until smooth, at least 2 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into skillet, and return skillet to medium-high heat; bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until slightly reduced, about 6 minutes. Stir in sugar and juice, season with salt, and keep enchilada sauce warm in skillet.
Heat remaining oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, grasp tortillas with tongs and fry in oil until pliable, about 1 minute. Transfer tortillas to skillet with enchilada sauce, and toss to coat in sauce, then place on a work surface. Divide chicken, cheese, and minced onion among tortillas, and roll each tortilla around chicken to form tight rolls. To serve, transfer enchiladas to a large serving platter, and sprinkle with more cheese, onion rings, and cilantro.