A Harmony of Flavors

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Guatemalan Enchiladas, a Healthier Alternative

Okay, I do admit, these things take some time to make properly. There are probably shortcuts, but they taste so good made the long way that I hesitate to take those shortcuts for fear they will not taste the same. And they taste so very, very good.

A Guatemalan Enchilada

Guatemalan Enchiladas do start off with a fried corn tortilla, but everything else that goes on top is made from scratch. From a tomato sauce, to separately cooked pickled vegetables and a roast that is chopped into bitty pieces, it is a time consuming recipe, but easily made in stages over a couple or more days, as desired. 

Another difference from what is commonly known as an "enchilada" here in the US, is that the Guatemalan variety is picked up and eaten with the hands. It is as messy as it can get, but it is nearly impossible to use a fork to eat them. Regular pressed corn tortillas found in stores all over the US these days are far too thin to really support all the things that go on top of these enchiladas. In Guatemala, when the corn tortillas are made by hand, patted out lovingly and shaped into far thicker tortillas, they are fried only partially for the enchilada. If they were fried to complete crispness, the thickness alone would prohibit biting into them without breaking a tooth. I found that "La Tortilla Factory" corn tortillas, though they do have some flour added in, are just the perfect size and thickness to use for this recipe. 

There is an order to the layering of the ingredients on these enchiladas. Onto the fried tortilla goes the homemade tomato sauce. It is made from Roma tomatoes, onion, garlic and celery, with some salt and pepper for flavor. It is a delicious sauce, equally at home over fried eggs. This sauce is topped by a leaf of lettuce. Next comes the vegetables.

The main vegetable that is always present is beets. They can be used alone, or in a mixture with any or all of cabbage, green beans and carrots. Each vegetable is cooked separately in water and salted. A mixture of vinegar and water is poured over each separate, shredded or finely cut vegetable. Once a few hours or days have passed, the vegetable(s) are drained and only then combined. A pile of the mixed vegetables goes on top of the lettuce. Following the vegetable layer is a layer of a cooked meat that has been chopped finely and then fried with onion. My personal preference for sheer flavor is brisket. It also lends itself to easy slicing across the grain, eliminating a lot of chopping. It literally falls into little bits on its own. The meat is piled onto the vegetables. A slice of hard boiled egg goes on next, followed by a slice of raw onion, a good sprinkle of Cotija cheese and then a sprinkling of chopped parsley. And this marvelous combination of flavors is just almost too good to be true. I hope that despite all these steps, someone enterprising might give these a try.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.