Where do you stand on The Great Tortilla Divide? I met my husband when we both worked at a Mexican food restaurant during college, and many times we overheard co-workers and customers discussing which is more authentic, the flour tortilla or the corn tortilla? Those were some riveting discussions, as you can imagine – fueled sometimes by too many margaritas and one’s passion for their own regional specialties.
More to the point for Type 2 Diabetics, which is lower in carbs and higher in fiber? And more to the point for cooking, which has the best texture for a particular dish and has the best flavor?
For my favorite Mexican food dish of all time – enchiladas – the clear answer is corn tortillas. They are thinner and smaller so therefore lower in carbohydrates simply due to their smaller size, and they are WAY more flavorful than flour tortillas. In my opinion, using heavy bread-like flour tortillas for enchiladas throws off the proportions of filling to sauce to tortilla. The smaller, thinner corn tortilla is perfect in proportion to the filling and sauce, and will leave you feeling satisfied, not weighed down with too much doughy flour.
There is an extra step for using corn tortillas, whether you use the soft yellow corn or the soft white corn tortillas, and that is blanching in oil. Before I learned the “secret method” that I explain next, blanching corn tortillas was a messy, time-consuming step, that I was willing to go through to get great tasting enchiladas.
Then I saw Mexican food expert chef Rick Bayless prepare his corn tortillas this MUCH easier and faster way on one of his Youtube cooking videos. The basic technique is very simple. Using a pastry brush, brush vegetable oil lightly on both sides of a corn tortilla, put it on a small microwavable plate, then repeat with the remaining tortillas. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 60 seconds (for 8-12 corn tortillas). THAT’S IT! Now they are blanched and ready to fill and roll for some of the best enchiladas ever!
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13″ pan with release spray. Prep the corn tortillas by blanching in the microwave: Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of each corn tortilla with vegetable oil, then stack them on a microwavable plate. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 1 minute. Keep covered while filling and rolling tortillas.
Note on commercially-prepared enchilada sauces: Enchilada sauces are widely available at grocery stores in the ethnic foods section. You can find red sauces where tomatoes or red chile pepper are the main ingredient, and you can find green sauces where green chiles or tomatillas are the main ingredient. Read labels and watch for sugar, but usually these sauces don’t have very much hidden sugar. My favorite sauces are the Frontera brand sold at Target stores. We like to have some enchiladas with both red and green sauce. One can or package is about 2 c. of sauce, so to make the recipe you will need two cans or packages, and will have about 1 c. left over. You can freeze it and use it in another recipe, such as Chicken Tortilla Soup. (You can also make your own enchilada sauce; it is easy but does take some time.)
In a small bowl, mix together the canned chicken, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder. Put 2/3 c. of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the 9×13″ pan and tilt to cover most of the bottom of the pan.
Begin rolling up the enchiladas by placing one blanched corn tortilla on a small plate or cutting board. Put about 2 TBS. chicken mixture, about 1 TBS of cheese, and about 1 tsp. minced onion in the middle of each tortilla. Shape the filling so that it creates a horizontal bar in the middle of the tortilla.
Roll the bottom of the tortilla up and over the filling; continue to roll up the tortilla completely with the filling inside, then place seam-side down in the 9×13″ pan.
Continue until you have 8 enchiladas.
Carefully pour the remaining sauce over the top of the enchilada, covering every bit of exposed tortilla. Sprinkle the top of the enchiladas with the remaining cheese.
Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes until the enchiladas are heated through. Makes 8 enchiladas.
Optional: Top with an over-easy fried egg, Santa Fe-style, or other toppings of your choice, such as shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, pico de gallo, guacamole or avocado slices, or low-fat sour cream or greek yogurt.