Friday, October 24, 2008

Enchilada Sauce (pressure canned)

Another annual tomato processing project around here is canning a batch of enchilada sauce. I grow and dry my own peppers (and the onions, garlic, and thyme), but if you have some extra tomatoes and a pressure canner/cooker it might be worth your while to shop for the dried chiles. Most of our grocery stores here have a Hispanic foods section, with a pegboard display of herbs, spices, and dried chiles in cellophane packets. I always check there for herbs - prices are a lot better than buying the little jars in the spice aisle (then just transfer them to the recycled glass jars of my spice rack). In my supermarket, more than enough dried chiles for this recipe were less than $3.

The big chiles are usually labeled California or New Mexico chiles. They're the pretty shiny chiles most often hung up as a decoration (if you're using ones from a decorative string, make sure they haven't been varnished or treated with any kind of preservative coating. If you use them from the bottom, you can keep the string looking nice, if just a bit shorter). Chipotle is really a generic term meaning any smoked chile. Jalapeños are the ones most commonly preserved this way, so here chipotle usually means a smoked jalapeño. But the cellophane packets are marketed to Spanish-speakers, so the smoked chiles you want for this recipe will more likely be labeled Morita (or maybe Tipico). They'll look like little wrinkled reddish-brown cigar butts.

Enchilada Sauce (8 pints)

2 onions + 3 bulbs garlic, drizzled with olive oil (no need to peel, just make sure root end is clean). Wrap in foil packet, roast 45 minutes at 375º.

8 dried California + 24 Chipotle chiles. Rinse with cool water, remove stems, cover with boiling water and soak 45 minutes. Drain before proceeding.

4 pounds tomatoes, cored and halved

Add veggies above to 6 quarts water with 8 sprigs thyme (about 3 tablespoons dried) and 4 teaspoons non-iodized salt. Simmer 45 minutes.

Discard half the cooking water (about 3 quarts - I ladle it out, pouring it through a wire sieve into a measuring bowl). Puree the veggies (I just run it all through my blender - I don't have a food mill, but that would probably work too) and press through wire sieve along with remaining cooking water. Discard the dry pulp remaining in the sieve. Fill sterilized pint jars to ½" headspace. Seal, pressure-can 50 minutes at 7-10 pounds pressure (depending on what type of pressure regulator you have). Let canner return to zero pressure on its own before opening.

Making Enchiladas
One pint of the sauce above makes a 9x13" pan of 12 enchiladas. This sauce is hot, a concentrate, and needs to be stretched and mellowed. Traditional recipes use cream (8 ounces sour or whipping), or you can use a can of evaporated milk, but I usually whisk one can of condensed cream of mushroom soup into the pint of sauce. Prepare approximately 2 cups of filling (beef, or shrimp & crab, or pork, or leftover turkey, or sauteed onion & mushroom with tofu, or eggs & potatoes, or whatever else you think might be good. I'm going to experiment with diced eggplant - don't tell Aries) binding it together with a bit of sauce. Soften corn tortillas according to package directions. Divide filling equally, roll up in the tortillas, and place in baking pan seam-side down. Pour sauce mixture over all, smooshing them down with your spatula to completely cover and soak edges of the tortillas. Top with shredded cheddar (optional - and I also sprinkle with chopped black olives). Bake uncovered 400º 20 minutes or until bubbling. Comer, beber, y reir (Eat, drink and laugh)!


Anonymous said...

This sounds so yummy, I'll have to try it!

Anonymous said...

I think I will make this - it sounds good. I will let you know how I do. I picked most of my tomatoes yesterday because we are supposed to have a freeze tonight. I put them on a table in the basement under sheets of newspapers like you suggested. When I have enough that are ripe I will search for the chiles - when we lived in San Antonio I wouldn't have had to search!


atasteofcreole said...

I only have access to canned tomatoes how many cans would I use?

Sadge said...

Now I'm just guesstimating here (roughly trying to translate weight to liquid): 16 oz in a pound, x 4 = 64 oz, which would be 8 cups, 4 pints, 2 quarts, or a half-gallon of canned tomatoes. Try that, and see if you end up with roughly 8 pints of sauce.

Sadge said...

Oops, continued: Draining the tomatoes, using the juice + water to make up the 6 quarts liquid.