“Fa-heeeee-taaa”, as I am often known to say when thinking about Mexican food! Mexico is situated between the U.S. and Central America and is widely known for its Pacific and Gulf of Mexico beaches and its diverse landscape of mountains, deserts and jungles. With a population of over 122 million, it is the eleventh most populous country and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. Mexico is located in the “Ring of Fire”. This area is one of the world’s most violent earthquake and volcano zones. The Ring of Fire, contains more than 450 volcanoes and has approximately 75% of the world’s active volcanoes. Popocatépetl is considered to be the most dangerous volcano in Mexico, located only 70 km southeast of Mexico City.
Mexico was home to several advanced Amerindian civilizations – including the Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec. Their presence is still felt at the famous sites of
Calakmul (possibly the largest city during Mayan times), Tulum ruins, Monte Albán (Ancient Zapotec capital), Teotihuacán archaeological zone and of course, Chichén Itzá.
I think its safe to say that one wouldn’t get bored on a trip to Mexico. When you’re done with the ancient sites, you can take a road trip down Baja’s endless coast, hike to the peak of Pico de Orizaba, party your heart out in Mexico city and enjoy a well earned laze on the beaches of Puerto Escondido. Mexico has the 23rd highest income from tourism in the world.
Mexico has given the world hot chocolate (sacred drink of the Aztecs), the Habanero Chilli Pepper (packing a punch at 350,000 scovilles) and the Chihuahua, the world’s smallest dog breed. Mexico produces the most automobiles of any North American nation with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler having been in operation there since the 1930s.
Mexican food is know the world over with it’s staple ingredients of corn, beans, avocados, tomatoes, chilli peppers and rice. Mexican street food is one of the most varied parts of the cuisine, which includes tacos, quesadillas, pambazos (white bread), tamales (seasoned meat and maize flour steamed or baked in maize husks), huaraches (fried dough base with a variety of toppings) and alambres (grilled beef topped with chopped bacon, bell peppers, onions, cheese, salsa and avocado). I decided to make Chicken enchiladas, which may not sound overly adventurous given the plethora of options available, but sometimes the simplest dishes are the tastiest, which was certainly the case here!
Serves: 2 hungry people
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
For the enchiladas:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 onion, peeled and diced
2 skinless chicken breasts, diced into small 1/2-inch pieces
salt and pepper
2 green chillis, diced
1/2 tin black beans (rinsed & drained) or 100g dried black beans, cooked according to the packet
4 large flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and red leicester as I couldn’t get hold of monterey jack cheese)
1 batch of homemade red enchilada sauce (see below)
For the homemade red enchilada sauce:
1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 tbsp all-purpose or gluten-free flour
2 tbsp ancho chilli pepper powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
For the homemade enchilada sauce:
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add flour and stir together over the heat for one minute.
Stir in all the seasonings.
Then gradually add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps.
Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thick.
Use immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.
For the enchiladas:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
Add onion and fry for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add diced chicken and green chillis, and season with salt and pepper.
Saute for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove from heat and set aside.
To assemble the enchiladas, set up an assembly line with the tortillas, enchilada sauce, beans, chicken mixture, and cheese.
Lay out a tortilla, and spread 1 tablespoon of sauce over the surface of the tortilla.
Add beans in a line down the middle of the tortilla, then add in a spoonful of the chicken mixture, then sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese.
Roll up tortilla and place in a greased baking dish.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Then spread the remaining enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas, and sprinkle on the remaining shredded cheese.
Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve immediately