Enchiladas de Mole

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Enchiladas de Mole by Valeria Perez
Story and photos by Ruben Dominguez

There are many authentic Mexican dishes, but for first-year graduate student Valerie Perez, there is one that means much more to her than a good meal.

“It reminds me of family,” Perez says, “I remember eating it often as a kid when I would visit my mother’s family who reside in San Luis, Potosi, Rio Verde.”

This dish, known to many as Enchiladas de Mole, is a popular dish in the Mexican culture. It is often served at weddings and Quinceaneras. The special sauce which originated from Puebla, Mexico, is a traditional ingredient of that particular area. This Oaxacan cuisine can be found used on many other Mexican dishes such as tamales, quesadillas, and chapulines.

“Mole is one of my favorite Mexican entrees to cook and eat because the sauce is different compared to other famous Mexican dishes.” Perez says.

The sauce that Perez enjoys preparing contains chocolate to give it a rich, sweet taste for its consumers. This is interesting aspect to the Mexican food enthusiast who prepares this dish quite often for dinner parties for friends in her hometown of Dallas, Texas.

“The mole sauce has a little bit of chocolate in it but you can’t really taste the chocolate when you try it,” Perez says.

In cooking this dish, Perez feels that she can connect back to her cultural heritage, something she appreciates about St. Mary’s University as well. She was inspired to make this dish after taking a Mexican-American literature course that has sparked her interest in knowing more about her roots. While the task to make them perfect is a challenge, learning to create a dish worth much more than just a great taste is an adequate reward worth the hardship.

If there was any advice on making the dish, the graduate student says to follow the instructions carefully, but not to be afraid to switch things up and put your own twist on things. This is the key to making the dish meaningful.

“Every time I make this dish, I want to make my critics remember it,” Perez says, “and to make all those that made it before me proud.”

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of cooked chicken, already shredded
  • 3 cups of warm mole sauce
  • 12 tortillas
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium size white onion, thinly sliced
  • Lettuce or any salad spring mix of your liking
  • Diced tomatoes, cucumber, freshly cut pineapples
  • Any type of salad dressing
  • Optional: basil, white shredded cheese, avocado
  • Two Frying pans

Directions

First, You will need two frying pans. Place the mole sauce in one of the frying pans and set over medium low heat. Have a plate covered with paper towels ready. Meanwhile, add the vegetable oil in the other frying pan and turn the heat to high. Once the oil is hot, turn down the heat to medium and start frying the tortillas in a fast pace, turning once. The tortilla should turn soft but without any excess oil. Place the tortillas over the paper towel-covered plate to absorb the oil. Keep them warm. After frying all the tortillas, dip them one by one with the help of kitchen tongs (or your hand and a large spatula) into the warm mole sauce, making sure it is completely submerged. This is also a step that’s done quickly, to avoid breaking the tortillas. Place the tortilla onto a plate and add the chicken filling right at the center. Fold the tortilla in the tube form and, with the help of your spatula, place the enchilada on your serving plates. If needed, spoon some more mole sauce over the enchiladas. (I use one plate exclusively to assemble the enchiladas before placing them on the serving dish). Just before serving, garnish with the crumbed cheese and finely sliced onions (and/or) basil. Prepare the salad with lettuce, spring mix. Add the diced tomatoes, diced cucumber and pieces of pineapple onto the salad. Cut the avocado and add it onto the salad or on the side. Makes 3-4 servings.

 

 

White Cheese Enchiladas with Mexican Rice

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White Cheese Enchiladas with Mexican Rice by Daniel Montañez
Story and Photos by Steven Navarro

It’s not too common that a male undergraduate would know how to cook a full-fledged meal, but Daniel Montañez is an expert at making White Cheese Enchiladas so authentic that any abuelita in San Antonio would give the nod of approval.

Montañez, a senior Business Management major at St. Mary’s University, says he enjoys cooking but admits it’s hard to find time to cook a wholesome meal as a full-time student with two jobs. “I’ll usually just pick up Chik-Fil-A from the UC because of my schedule,” Montañez says, “but I would much rather eat a home-cooked meal.”

One of Montañez’s career plans is to attend a seminary upon graduating from St. Mary’s. This desire to learn more about his faith isn’t something he’s postponing until after graduation. Montañez is involved with faith-based activities and groups on campus. “Besides my classes, I love to join in on the things happening here on campus, like Bible studies and other clubs” he says. “I really like St. Mary’s because there is so much to get involved with.”

“A downfall,” he admits, is that this “leaves even less time for making hearty meals.”

Every now and then, when tests and essays are not due, Montañez will have some free time for himself. This is a miracle of sorts for the busy Business Management major, one he always plans to use for grubbing on anything but fast food. “If I have a free evening, I know I’m going to eat good,” Montañez says. “I grew up on my mom’s Mexican food, so that’s what I automatically go for when cooking.” Montañez admits he didn’t begin to learn how to cook until he started college. “I never started learning how to cook because I would always come home and there’d be food on the table. But now, I’ve got to fend for myself most of the time.”

One of Montañez’s go-to dishes is enchiladas with rice. “It’s one of those dishes I grew up on,” he says. “You’ve got to make sure the cheese is good,” Montañez warns, “because if not, it doesn’t matter how anything else tastes.”

Ingredients:

White Cheese Enchiladas

  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 10 oz. Cacique QuesoFresco cheese
  • 8 oz. Mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup of Olive Oil
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 can of Chile con carne

Rice

  • 1 cup of rice
  • 2 T. of oil
  • ¼ of a medium onion
  • ¼ medium bell pepper
  • ¼ cup of tomato sauce
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • salt to taste
  • Ground Pepper to taste

Directions:

Rice

  1. In a medium pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add rice and cook until it turns golden brown.
  2. Add garlic, onions, bell pepper and sauté for about one minute.
  3. Add broth and tomato sauce. Stir and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Do not stir after this or rice will turn mushy.
  4. After 5 minutes, turn the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Yield: Serves 6-8 (can serve with side dish of beans)

Enchiladas

  1. Preparation: Wash ingredients, dice vegetables and prepare measurements.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Crumble the QuesoFresco cheese and shred the mozzarella cheese. Dice the onion and mix all 3 ingredients. Set aside.
  4. In a large frying pan at medium-high heat, add 3 T of olive oil. Place tortilla in the pan. Cook for about 5 seconds on each side. Remove from pan and place the tortillas on a plate (place a paper towel on plate to soak extra oil) and repeat the process.
  5. Take a tortillas and fill it with 2 t of cheese/onion mixture. Roll up the tortillas and place it in a casserole pan. Continue until all tortillas are filled and rolled. Add the can of chile con carne to the top of the tortillas in the casserole pan. Cover all enchiladas with grated cheese.
  6. Put the casserole in the oven for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Yield: Serves 4