When I say “enchiladas” – what do you imagine? A burrito-like dish covered in spicy red sauce and melted cheese? Well, for El Salvador and some other Central American countries, enchiladas are a different dish entirely. While each person has their preferences, here is my version: A fried tortilla colored with achiote (annatto) forms the foundation, then in layers, mayonnaise, seasoned ground beef, curtido (Salvadoran cabbage salad), sliced hard boiled eggs, a heavy sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a few squirts of ketchup! Pick up your enchilada and eat it with your hands. Here’s the recipe, (and some notes on other variations you can try!)
Ingredients for the ground beef:
1 lb. ground beef
a few generous dashes Salsa Perrins (also known as “Worcestershire sauce”)
1 teaspoon achiote powder
salt to taste
Ingredients for the tortillas:
3 cups corn flour (MASECA is the brand I use)
a little less than 4 cups water
1 tablespoon achiote powder
a pinch of salt
oil for frying (I use Canola)
6 eggs – hard boiled, peeled and sliced
Curtido (recipe here)
Ketchup (Optional! Traditional enchiladas usually use tomato salsa!)
1. In a pan, fry the ground beef seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, achiote powder and salt. (If using lean ground beef, add a little oil to fry.) Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine corn flour with achiote powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients with a fork to combine before adding water. Add water a little at a time, combining with your hands as you go. You will use almost 4 cups of water, but 4 cups is too much, so don’t add it all. You want the masa (dough) to be very moist but not so wet that you can’t shape it with your hands.
3. Heat oil in a large pan. Shape masa into tortillas, (If you don’t know how to do this with your hands, some people cheat by smashing a ball of dough between the bottoms of two plates covered in plastic wrap.)
4. Fry the tortillas a few at a time without crowding them in the pan. Flip to brown on both sides. Remove to paper towels to drain off some of the oil.
5. Time to assemble your enchiladas! Slather mayonnaise on each tortilla. Top with the following in this order: ground beef, curtido, sliced egg, Parmesan, ketchup. This recipe makes approximately 12 enchiladas.
6. Variations: Enchiladas can be made different ways. You can use whatever toppings appeal to you. Some people top their enchiladas with tomato slices, radish slices, and fresh avocado; other people use refried beans instead of mayonnaise, tomato sauce instead of ketchup, and grilled chicken in place of ground beef.