While songs from the past have the power to evoke strong memories, the same holds true for me with food. A perfectly warm don tart (egg custard) with the flakiest of crusts reminds me of regular trips to San Francisco Chinatown where my mom held on to me with a tight grip as we made our way through the crowds shopping on Stockton Street to our favorite dim sum restaurant. Grilled fish on a stick with a touch of lime and sprinkling of coarse salt evokes the warmth of the Puerto Vallarta sun on my shoulders as I dug into my bag for change to pay for endless meals of fish on a stick with my now-husband during Semana Santa. And then there are enchiladas.
Home made enchiladas conjure up memories signify a new chapter in my life as a new parent. I’ll never forget wandering a grocery store in a sleep deprived daze with my mom and spotting ready made enchiladas while pushing my tiny baby girl, overbundled in a heap of blankets to ward off winter’s chill.
Growing up in California I had plenty of enchiladas from Mexican restaurants but in that moment, that dish of enchiladas was a plate of pure comfort food. Something meaty, cheesy, warm, and nourishing for my nursing self.
“Those are so easy to make,” my mother said to me as we continued down the aisle. “I’ll make them for you.”
During the rest of our trip we gathered flour tortillas, chicken, ingredients for sauce, cheese, and a collection of other ingredients. As baby Emily slept, my mom boiled chicken breasts and waited for them to cool before shredding them. The pulled chicken was mixed with sauce and cheese before being rolled into tortillas, stuffed into my glass baking pan, drenched in more sauce, and covered in a blanket of cheese.
That night those enchiladas were exactly what I wanted them to be on a cold winter’s night- meaty, cheesy, warm, and delicious.
“These are sooo good,” Emily’s best friend, Ava, said this past weekend as we were enjoying enchiladas as part of a sleepover dinner. “You have to give my mom the recipe.”
Recipe? Over the years, my enchilada recipe has evolved and has become one that’s completely in my head. Sometimes I’ll use chicken. Other times I’ll brown ground turkey or beef before stirring in sauce and cheese and adding any combination of corn, black beans, and brown rice in any amount for some flair. We’ve also discovered that we love green enchiladas that use salsa verde (easy to find at Trader Joe’s) as a base for the sauce to switch it up from the usual red. Or on the nights that we have an abundance of corn tortillas, we look up the recipe for Chicken Enchilada Casserole.
The one constant? They’re always baked and served in my beloved 9×13″ glass Pyrex. Since 1915, Pyrex glassware has been an American-made kitchen staple, helping countless families bring comfort and joy through cooking and when I make enchiladas in my Pyrex, they go from oven to table with serve-yourself sour cream, salsa, and guacamole as accompaniments.
For enchilada inspiration, try any of these 3 recipes to start:
- Best Chicken Enchiladas from Gimme Some Oven
- Green Chicken Enchiladas from Las Palmas
- Chicken Enchilada Casserole from Stefania Pomponi
And if you’re looking to pair a beer with your enchiladas, Pacifico or Dos Equis in the green bottle are favorites, especially served with a lemon or lime wedge.
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