Enchiladas are one of the many breakout hits of popular Mexican cuisine. Maybe it’s because they were in all your grandmother’s Betty Crocker cookbooks, or because it’s a dish constantly touted by celebrity chefs on TV, or just because tortillas covered in sauce is awesome. And what’s not to love? It’s like a reverse taco: you have a lightly fried tortilla where the filling plays second fiddle to the sauce on top, whether it’s a refined mole or a just a simple salsa. Yes, I said reverse taco, and I’m standing by that.
In L.A., most of us are familiar with Mexican-American style baked enchiladas, which likely have their origin in enchiladas suizas, or Swiss enchiladas. But all styles will be on display enchiladas at July’s Enchilada Festival, where chefs Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu are celebrating reverse taco awareness at La Casita Mexicana and Mexicano. So let’s dig in to their enchilada suiza.
The suiza dates back to the French occupation of Mexico, where the emperor’s Mexican personal chef married Mexican and European flavors. Chefs Jaime and Ramiro stay true to the Mexico City classic with a pair of lightly fried corn tortillas filled with chicken. The sauce is tangy salsa verde made with cooked tomatillos and a touch of flavorful heat from mix of jalapeños and serranos, blended with Mexican cream before it’s poured on the rolled tortillas.
Yes, they sprinkle some cheese on top and pop it in the oven—70’s Tupperware party-style—and bake until there’s a light browning on top. Start with the suizas and from there you can work your way through the whole enchilada. It’s a taste of old Mexico and a familiar style of enchilada that’s all-American cheese on top, fire on the bottom.
The Enchilada Festival takes place all the month of July at La Casita and Mexicano.
La Casita Mexicana, 4030 Gage Ave, Bell, (323) 773-1898, casitamex.com
Mexicano, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 3650 W Martin Luther King Jr. Bl.,Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw, (323) 296-0798, mexicanola.com