For those of you who don’t know, I will be in Mexico for the next three weeks with fellow teacher and food blogger, Daniela Cho of The Spiced Kitchen, studying Mexico’s gastronomic traditions. We received a Fund for Teachers Fellowship to study the intersection between Mexican food, culture, history and community, and we will be bringing our experiences back to the classroom in the fall to share with our students. This means that we will be taking cooking classes, visiting markets, talking to locals, and traveling throughout Mexico for the next few weeks. I am going to do my very best to give you an update each day, and I hope that the pictures can do a lot of the talking.
Today, our journey began in Mexico City at la Escuela de Gastronomía Mexicana or ESGAMEX. Ever since I began watching Yuri de Gortari’s (the school’s founder) show on YouTube, I have wanted to come here. The school is an absolute dream! There is talavera tile covering the walls, lush green plants flowing over railings, clay pots hanging everywhere, and big glass windows that open to the fresh air. The school was everything I had hoped it would be and more.
Daniela and I signed up to take an enchiladas course. We arrived at 10 am and the class began at 11 am and lasted about 5+ hours. We learned how to make six different types of enchiladas from various regions of Mexico — enchiladas veracruzanas, enchiladas verdes con acuyo, enjitomatadas de requesón, enfrijoladas oaxaqueñas, enchiladas queretanas, and enchiladas potosinas. There were about fifteen people registered to take the class, and we worked in three teams to prepare the salsas and other necessary ingredients for each dish. It was exhausting and amazing all at the same time, and the end result was simply spectacular.
Our first dish was called enchiladas vercruzanas. The sauce was made with black beans, chipotle chile in adobo, fresh epazote, and chicken broth. The enchiladas were stuffed with egg that was scrambled with white onion, and the whole dish was garnished with fresh green chile de árbol, cilantro, cream, quesillo (sometimes called queso Oaxaca), and chorizo.
I learned that in order to make delicious frijoles de olla (beans from the pot), you must cook some onion (with the root attached so it doesn’t fall apart) and a whole clove of garlic in some lard to flavor it. Then, you add the already cooked beans and simmer them until the foam on top disappears. The beans had such a velvety texture and were super flavorful.
Our second dish was called enchiladas verdes con acuyo (hoja santa). The salsa was made with tomatillos, chile serrano, onion, garlic, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper, chicken broth, and a fresh leaf called acuyo or hoja santa. They were filled with mashed potatoes, zucchini blossoms, cooked onion, and epazote all mixed together in a puree. Finally, they were beautifully garnished with cream, queso cotija, red onion rings, avocado slices, and a cooked zucchini blossom.
I absolutely loved these ones. I normally prefer salsas rojas over salsas verdes, but the flavors of this dish worked so well together.
Our third type of enchiladas were called enjitomatadas de requesón. The sauce was made using Roma tomatoes, onion, garlic, chicken broth, allspice, bay leaves, and oregano. They were filled with requesón (a thick ricotta-like cheese) that was cooked with white onion and fresh epazote. Finally, we garnished them with cream, white onions, and shredded queso panela or quesillo.
They almost tasted liked a version of Italy meets Mexico because of the pairing of creamy requesón with the red salsa. I learned that a good red salsa should always be cooked until it is orange in color. You can definitely see that beautiful color in this picture.
Next on the menu were these enfrijoladas oaxaqueñas. The sauce was made with black beans, fresh avocado leaves that were briefly passed through a flame, chile pasilla oaxqueño, and chicken broth. The tortillas were folded into quarters without any filling and then they were garnished with white onion slices, cilantro leaves, quesillo, and a salty, tender meat called tasajo.
I was once again floored by how creamy and delicious the beans were. Hopefully, I can reproduce these once I get home.
Our fifth type of enchiladas were these enchiladas queretanas that are also called by other names throughout the country. The process of making them is interesting. First, you prepare a red salsa with chile guajillo, onion, garlic, cumin, allspice, clove, oregano, apple cider vinegar, and lard. Once the salsa is prepared and cooked, you pass each tortilla through the salsa and then fry it in lard on both sides. The enchiladas are filled with queso fresco and fresh white onion, and topped with cooked potatoes and carrots, chopped lettuce, and pickled jalapeño chiles.
I loved that there were so many flavors and textures. Our instructor explained to us that sometimes certain dishes are very humble and focus more on flavor than appearance, but if you ask me these enchiladas are stunning.
Although our last dish looks more like an empanada, these were called enchiladas potosinas. These are also made using an interesting method. First you make a paste with chile guajillo and chile ancho. The paste is passed through a strainer and added to fresh corn masa. It is mixed together to rehydrate the masa and then lard is added to soften the dough. The dough is flattened into circles and briefly cooked on one side on the comal. They are filled with queso fresco and queso cotija that has been mixed with a salsa made from tomatoes, onion, chile cascabel, and chile serrano. These enchiladas were served with a guacamole that consisted of cubed avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, oregano, lime, and olive oil.
Of course we got to sample each of the enchilada dishes, and honestly it was difficult to pick a favorite. By the middle of the class, all I could think about was wanting to open up a restaurant in Pittsburgh that just served enchiladas. I could just eat enchiladas for days. These were so amazing!
I hope that I am able to take another ESGAMEX course in the future. If you are in Mexico City, I would highly recommend taking a class with them. It will be an unforgettable experience.
Tomorrow’s adventures include a market tour and a round of cooking antojitos or Mexican appetizers.
For more pictures from today, click here.