Thursday, July 15, 2021

House of Tiles?... and What do the Swiss have to do with Enchiladas?

Casa de los Azulejos or "House of Tiles" is an 18th century palace located in the heart of Mexico City. The palace was built by the Count del Valle de Orizaba in honor of his marriage to Graciana Suarez Peredo. A later renovation added the distinctive Puebla tile to the facade, giving the palace it's name. The palace passed hands a few times, used as a private residence, a jockey club, a women's clothing store, and was occupied by the army during the Mexican Revolution. In 1917, brothers, Frank and Walter Sanborn, purchased the property to expand their drugstore and to open it's flagship restaurant, "Sanborns." In 1931, the palace was declared a national monument. Click here for an awesome look inside! (The music's fun, too!)

Sanborns is a fabulous place to visit and grab a bite to eat. In fact, this is the birthplace of their signature dish, "Enchiladas Suizas." Enchiladas Suizas literally translates to "Swiss Enchiladas." Why? Well, in 1922, Mexican President Alvaro Obregon invited fleeing Mennonites, mainly from Swiss and German roots, to settle in the northern regions of the country. In addition to cheap land and freedom from taxation for 100 years, the Mennonites agreed to supply cheese and dairy products to the region. Later that year, a whopping 20,000 Mennonites arrived and began making their cheese, known as queso menonita, which is now known as Chihuahua cheese! The current population is estimated to be about 80,000, and makes 80% of the region's cheese and 70% of its dairy products!

Enchiladas Suizas are ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! These chicken enchiladas, smothered in a green chile cream sauce and topped with melty cheese, are my absolute favorite! The name is a tribute to the Swiss cheesemakers who made it all possible!

Enchiladas Suizas

Serves 6


For the sauce
1 pound (6-8) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 medium white onion, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 serrano chiles or 2 jalapenos, stemmed
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Mexican crema, creme fraiche, or heavy cream
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

For the enchiladas
4 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheese, Chihuahua or Monterey Jack, halved
12 corn tortillas
1/2 cup canola oil
Sliced white onion, for garnish
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish


For the sauce
Roast the tomatillos, sliced onion, peeled garlic, and chiles on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet, 4-inches below a hot broiler until the tomatillos are soft and blotchy black on one side, 4-5 minutes. Turn everything over and roast the other side.

Scrape the tomatillo mixture into a blender or food processor.

Process to a smooth puree. Heat the 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a medium-large (4-5 quart) pot over medium high. When the oil is hot enough to make a drop of puree sizzle, add the puree all at once. Stir nearly constantly for several minutes until darker and thicker. Add the broth and the crema, reduce the heat to medium low, partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

When done, if the sauce has thickened beyond the consistency of a light cream soup, stir in a little more broth (or water). Taste and season with the salt. Set aside.

For the enchiladas
In a large bowl, mix the chicken, onion, and 1 cup of the cheese. Season with the salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1/2 cup canola oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Using tongs, cook 1 tortilla until pliable, about 20 seconds per side. (Don't fry them!) Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Spread 1/2 cup sauce in a 13x9x2" baking dish. Making one at a time, spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla. Roll up tortilla and arrange seam side down in baking dish.

When all the enchiladas are nestled in neatly, cover with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake the enchiladas until heated through and the cheese is melted, about 30 minutes. Garnish with the sliced onion and cilantro. Serve immediately. You're going to LOVE it!