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I grew up on the Mexican border, and so for me enchiladas are a certain thing: They consist of three or more tortillas dipped in red chile (enchilada sauce), laid flat on a plate, with cheese and onion sprinkled between each layer and on top. Enchiladas are not a casserole. Only gringos eat them with meat in them.

So I was never a big fan of the “green chile chicken enchilada” which I feel came from somewhere NOT along the border (outer space, perhaps?). Then I had lunch at My Brother’s Place, a crazy good Mexican food restaurant in Las Cruces. I went to school with one of the brothers’ kids. She always said he was a good cook. She was right!

His green enchiladas were just what I had always wanted, and my version is worth going out and buying the kinds of chile I need to make it work.

Ingredients:

  • Four poblano peppers
  • Eight large green chiles (here’s where you can make it hotter or milder to your taste)
  • Salt and fresh garlic to taste
  • A dozen corn tortillas
  • Small onion, diced
  • Two cups grated cheese, more if necessary
  • Lettuce and tomato to garnish

If you prep the cheese, onion, tomato and lettuce and set it next to the stove on a cutting board, you’ll be ready to construct the enchiladas when the rest of the ingredients are ready.

1. Coat the chiles and peppers with olive oil. Place them on a greased baking sheet and roast under medium heat on your broiler. When the skin begins to blister and turn black, turn them until all sides are equally roasted.

2. Allow the chiles and peppers to cool, then remove the skins and seeds. Place the “meat” in a blender with salt and fresh garlic to taste. Blend until very smooth, adding a little bit of water as necessary.

3. Pour the sauce into a saucepan and simmer until warm. If necessary, you can thicken it with a little bit of corn starch in water (for those of you not used to using a thickener, blend a small amount of cornstarch or flour with water, then slowly stir into the simmering sauce. Add as needed until it’s the desired thickness, then cook for 2-3 more minutes to eliminate the flavor).

4. While the sauce is simmering, lightly fry the corn tortillas in extra virgin olive oil, just until they are soft and flexible. Drain them on paper towels or paper bags.

5. Remove the sauce from the heat. Dip a tortilla in the sauce and place it on a plate. Spoon a little extra sauce over the top, then sprinkle cheese and onion lightly over the tortilla. Repeat with two more tortillas. Place the plate in the oven on low for the cheese to melt.

6. When the plates are ready, garnish each with lettuce and tomato and serve.

This recipe will make four enchilada plates. Leftover enchilada sauce can be stored in the fridge for a few days, and can even be frozen.

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