Sunday, September 23, 2012

Snacking State-by-State: Texas IV - Paciendo Estado-por-Estado: Coahuila I - ¡Qué enchiladas tan sabrosas tienen!

In my previous Texas post, I noted the difference between New Mexican and Tex-Mex food.  So what distinguishes Tex-Mex from Mex-Mex?

Official Name: State of Texas
State Nickname: The Lone Star State, The Republic of Texas
Admission to the US: December 29, 1845 (#28)
Capital: Austin (4th largest)
Other Important Cities: Houston (largest), San Antonio (2nd largest), Dallas (3rd largest), El Paso (6th largest),
Region: South, Southwest; West South Central (US Census)
RAFT NationsCornbread & BBQChile PepperGumboBison
Bordered by: Oklahoma (north), Arkansas (northeast), Louisiana (east), Gulf of Mexico (southeast), Tamaulipas, Nuevo León & Coahuila (Mexico) and the Río Grande (south), Chihuahua (Mexico) (southwest), New Mexico (west)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: cast iron dutch oven (cooking implement - not edible, of course, but used for cooking), chili (dish), chiltepín (native pepper), Guadalupe bass (fish), jalapeño (pepper), longhorn (large mammal), pan de campo (bread), pecan (tree and health nut), prickly pear cactus (plant - for the pads and the fruit), sopaipilla and strudel (pastries), sweet onion (vegetable), Texas purple sage (native shrub), Texas red grapefruit (fruit). tortilla chips and salsa (snack)
Some Famous and Typical Foods: Where to begin?  Texas-style barbecue (specifically beef and beef brisket), Texas chili, chicken fried steak, Mexican (specifically Northern Mexican) foods, Tex-Mex foods (including migas, chile con carne and sopaipilla)Perhaps it is more instructive to say that "Mexican" is more similar to "New Mexican" cuisine (with a predominance of New Mexico chiles) than it is to "Tex-Mex" cuisine: fewer creamy sauces, fewer starches, less meat, little cumin.  But note also that Mexico has its own regional and state cuisines, so to define "Mexican" cuisine is almost as much a folly as defining "American" food (which I've been trying to do over the last year and a half, but still).  

To bring this discussion full circle, much of the cuisine of northern Mexico - the northeastern states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Tamaulipas and Nuevo León, which all border Texas, plus Sonora (bordering Arizona) and Baja California (bordering California) has more meat (carne asadabarbacoa) and cheese (chile con queso, crema de queso) than cuisines farther into central and southern Mexico.  So maybe "Tex-Mex" and "northern Mex" have some similarities after all (more info from the notoriously unreliable Wikipedia's "Mexican cuisine" and "New Mexican cuisine" pages).

Like the other states that border Texas to the south, Coahuila is known for its barbecue, carne asada and various things it does with beef and goat.  But one very common dish that you find all over Texas and the Southwest is the humble enchilada.  The Spanish-language Guía de Tacos website [date unknown] has a recipe for Coahuila-style enchiladas.  I can only take their word for it that this is how enchiladas - Spanish for "covered in chiles" - are done in Coahuila:
Este tipo de enchiladas se preparan todas juntas en un recipiente o refractario bañadas de una deliciosa salsa tradicional de Coahuila. Son uno de los platillos más populares entre la comunidad estatal y se disfrutan calientes y ligeramente picosas. [Guía de Tacos date unknown]
(Translation: This type of enchilada is prepared [all put] together in a container or  oven-proof dish bathed in a delicious traditional sauce from Coahuila.  They are one of the most popular dishes among the state population and is enjoyed hot and lightly spicy. [translation mine])
I use this recipe from the Guía de Tacos website for my enchiladas al estilo Coahuila, below.

The Recipe: Enchiladas Norteñas (al estilo de Coahuila)

For these Coahuila-style enchiladas you will need: 

* corn tortillas (had them from the previous recipe)
* Mexican cheese (in this case, queso fresco, about $6 at H-Mart, the Korean supermarket with a very well-stocked Latin American selection.  Note that the original recipe calls for a quarter kilogram - 1/2 a pound - of shredded cheese.  I just crumbled up the queso fresco instead)
ancho chiles (Productos Mirasol brand dried chiles, for about $1.50)
* garlic (had it)
* corn oil (had it too)
* onion (just needed half of one)
* salt (had it)

Seed the chiles and remove the stems.  You will dehydrate them in a minute...

But I wanted to toast them just a little first.

Soak the chiles for half an hour.  This will make them easier to pulse into a sauce.  Set aside the water you soak them in; you will use some of it later.

I found my typically useless blender was more useful than my food processor in pulsing the chiles (with a little chile water - I eyeballed it) into a sauce.  I still didn't get a terribly smooth sauce, but it worked well enough for me.

Boil down the chile sauce until thickened slightly.  Set aside.

Fry your tortillas in a skillet with some of the chile sauce.  The recipe actually wants you to boil down your homemade enchilada sauce in the skillet, set it aside, and heat up those tortillas.  I didn't do that, so i poured a little of the sauce into the skillet.

Toast each tortilla briefly on either side.

Now for your enchiladas: Take each tortilla, fill it with some cheese, and roll it up.  The recipe says "[Envuélven] las tortillas [como] si fueran tacos" (wrap the tortillas up as if they were tacos - they didn't spell the Spanish words too well) [Guía de Tacos date unknown].  I don't usually wrap tortillas up this way.  Maybe I'll try it sometime.

When you have enough of these tortillas wrapped up and lined up in a baking dish, cover with more cheese and onion pieces.

Cover the tortillas in the enchilada sauce.  Now they are "en-chile'd", enchiladas!

This is quite a filling dish, and it was satisfying to make my own enchilada sauce instead of using a bottled variety.  These taste even better heated up the next day, with the cheese and the sauce all warm.

Sources:  "Simple Vegan Migas…Brownsville Style"., posted January 19, 2009.  Copyright 2010  All rights reserved.

Dr. Dan (blogger).  "Spicy 3 Chilies Texas Chili a la Crock Pot".  101 Cooking for Two, posted February 25, 2012.

Fain, Lisa.  "My Oven-Baked Brisket".  Homesick Texan, posted December 16, 2008.  Copyright Homesick Texan.  All rights reserved. 

Goldwyn, Craig "Meathead".  "Barbecue Beef Brisket Texas Style".  Amazing Ribs updated March 2, 2012.  Copyright Amazing Ribs.  All rights reserved.

Guía de Tacos (  "Enchiladas norteñas".  Date unknown.

Johnson Miller, Ruthie.  "Banh mi, oh my! The top five Vietnamese sandwich shops in Houston".  Culture Map Houston, posted February 26, 2011.  Copyright 2009-2012 Culture Map, LLC.  All rights reserved.

Nguyen, Andrea.  "Daikon and Carrot Pickle Recipe (Do Chua)".  Viet World Kitchen, posted May 17, 2009.  Copyright 2002-2012 Andrea Nguyen.  All rights reserved.

Nguyen, Andrea.  "Master Banh Mi Sandwich Recipe".  Viet World Kitchen, posted June 17, 2009.  Copyright 2002-2012 Andrea Nguyen.  All rights reserved.

Shuttlesworth, Patrise.  "Tex-Mex vs. New Mex: Not Just About Jalapeños or Green Chiles".  On the Road, a Houston Press Blog, posted March 26, 2012.  Copyright Houston Press.  All rights reserved.

Sliter Satterwhite, Shannon. "Make a Batch of Texas Chili".  Southern Living Magazine, October 2005.

von der Mehden, Fred R. "Vietnamese".  Handbook of Texas Online.  Date unknown.  Published by the Texas State Historical Association.  Copyright 2012 Texas State Historical Association, published by the Texas State Historical Association, and distributed in partnership with the University of North Texas Sponsors.  All rights reserved.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "Texas" page and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "Texas".