I’m from El Paso, Texas. Enchiladas were a weekly staple, and while I like both red and green, I confess to liking green a whole lot more. I like red enchiladas for breakfast, mostly, with a runny egg on top, but I digress.
Up here in NH, getting decent enchilada sauce is damn near impossible. The closest I could get was buying the Old El Paso brand, and that just wasn’t really that good. (Plus, read the label. Who needs all that junk?!) I mean, I could make the meal decent by making really great ingredients in the enchiladas themselves, but it still didn’t really taste like home, so I set out to try to duplicate my favorite comfort food.
We grow a lot of tomatillos. Well, let me restate that. The pigs grow a LOT of tomatillos. We’re not quite sure why there are always so many in the pig paddock, but wherever they were last year is just overrun with tomatillo plants. We must get plenty from the food pantry that we mostly don’t notice and the seeds must pass through the pigs nearly intact, because we end up with bushels of tomatillos, with no effort on our part whatsoever besides harvesting.
Harvesting them is Frank’s job. He routinely walks through the areas with a bucket, collecting squash, tomatoes and tomatillos throughout late summer and through the fall. The tomatillos come in before our chilies are anywhere near ready for me to make my sauce, so he peels the outer papery layer off, washes them, and puts them into ziplock bags and into the freezer to wait until I’m ready for them. Then, when the freezer is overflowing with everything else in there (especially tomatoes), he convinces me it’s time to make my sauce. (He really likes my sauce.)
Here’s what I do:
Into my large crockpot, put:
1/2 pound peeled, roasted hot Hatch chilies
6 leeks, diced, including all the green bits
10 pounds tomatillos
4 medium zucchinis, sliced
1 cup celery
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 medium head garlic, peeled and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
Cook on high for about four hours, with the lid canted to let steam escape. When everything is soft, hit it with your stick blender, then cook on low until nice and thick, two to three more hours.
Pour into hot 1 pint jars. This batch made 9 pints. Water-bath can for 10 minutes.
To use as enchilada sauce, combine with 1/2 pint of stock of your choice and 1/2 cup of sour cream. I like to use the same type of stock as the meat I’m using in the enchiladas. So chicken stock for chicken enchiladas, pork stock, veg stock for cheese enchiladas, etc. This sauce is quite thick and hot, and the addition of stock to thin it out and the sour cream to balance the flavor really works. I’ve added the stock to the sauce before I canned it before, but it separates and looks ugly, so now I just wait to add it when I use it.
This sauce can also be used for wonderful Mexican-style stews, especially with pork, very authentic. I often put a jar of sauce, a couple of country ribs, some onions and potatoes in the crockpot for a lovely, easy dinner. Or, leave out the potatoes and serve over brown rice. I’ve even served it over left-over noodles of various types. It’s one of my favorite, simple meals, and always reminds me of home.