Oh how I miss decent Mexican food whether it be New Mexican, Sonoran, Baja style, or Mexico City cuisine… I heart all of it.
I was spoiled living in New Mexico, Arizona and my years of working in California. Mexican food is just not the same any place else… especially in Boston. Even when someone tells me, “you gotta try this one place… it’s very authentic!” It almost always disappoints. I think part of the problem is the first-floor low-heat index of New England. It’s a mild palette. Even when I order my Thai or Indian “very spicy” the dishes come lightly peppered with a modicum of burn.
Also, there seems to be a limited selection of peppers grown in the region. FYI if you need a source for chile powder I recommend Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson, Arizona. They carry Negra Pasilla, Ancho, Hatch, Santa Cruz, Aji Amarillo, Del Arbol and more (they ship).
I was recently in both Southern and Northern California on business and made the most of my limited time in the region cramming in as much Mexican food as possible. One of my favorite places was a hole-in-a-strip-mall called Tacos Ensenada: three fish tacos and one ceviche tostado = $5.50. Amazing.
A co-worker took me to a Mexican restaurant called La Cabañita in Glendale, California. (I love their logo.) I had the mole chicken enchiladas… Oh man. I don’t normally inhale my food and I always try my hardest to savor the moment of outstanding cuisine–unlike my dogs Cosmo and Sophie. (I’ll say something like, “Ok guys, try and savor this snack!,” but they rarely take the time to really enjoy the nuance of peanut butter.)
After a few Cadillac Margaritas, and a slight belt adjustment, I departed La Cabiñata just mildly intoxicated from the lethal combination of mole and tequila. I noticed on the way out that the restaurant sold containers of their homemade salsas. I didn’t even really think about how I was going to get them home before clumsily loading my arms up with mole, salsa… and a container of “Salsa Macha” (a very thick reddish/brown paste with lots of seeds — also known as ‘brave man’s salsa’).
I am happy to say that everything made it home to Boston en tact.
It didn’t take long before I decided to recreate my own mole enchiladas. (Perhaps in a future post I’ll attempt my own mole, for this recipe you will need to source pre-made mole.)
You will need:
- 2-3 chicken breasts
- 12 oz. mole
- 10-12 corn tortillas
- shredded cheese of your preference
I slow-cooked three boneless chicken breasts in the mole at a low temperature in my crockpot for about 2-3 hours. Once tender and cooked I removed the breasts from the mole and shredded the chicken in my food processor.
I steamed small corn tortillas. (Cool tip for doing this here.) I added the shredded chicken to the tortillas and rolled them up placing them into a rectangle baking dish. After filling the dish I covered the rolled tortillas with the left-over mole.
I covered with shredded cheddar and roughly chopped cilantro and then baked at 400°F until the cheese was nice and bubbly.
I served with sautéed cabbage/onion/scallion, avocado, salsa and a dollop of salsa macha.
Here’s to making Mexican food if you can’t find it…