Enfrijoladas de Pollo

At their most simple, enfrijoladas are bean-dipped corn tortillas filled with cheese, topped with more cheese, and baked. They’re a light, vegetarian staple of Mexican cooking, particularly in the Oaxaca region. Our enfrijoladas, however, are a copy of a breakfast dish served at Carboncitos in Playa del Carmen. Their version starts the same way, with tortillas wrapped around cheese and dipped in a bean puree, instead of a traditional enchilada sauce. But Carboncitos doesn’t stop there: they add shredded chicken to their enfrijolada filling, before covering the finished product in more bean sauce, some Mexican crema, and some crumbled crispy chorizo. What’s that? The idea of eating chicken and chorizo for breakfast doesn’t exactly spell “beach day” to you? This is one-meal-a-day eating, designed to carry you not just through a day of laying in the hot sun, but to also expertly handle the onslaught of cheap tequila that is to come, later in the day.

Of course, we have a few regional notes, for preparing this dish here in Portland, Maine. First, real Mexican chorizo is almost impossible to find. Hannaford isn’t carrying it. Whole Foods only has Spanish-style dried, cured chorizo. The Wal-Mart in Scarborough used to have the bright red, uncooked Mexican-style chorizo, but no more. La Bodega Latina has an uncooked refrigerated Honduran chorizo that comes close, but is a little too coarse in texture. You want your chorizo to turn into a fine, crunchy dust, under the heat of a frying pan. Our solution was to put the Honduran stuff through a food processor for a minute or two, until almost a smooth paste, before frying. We’ll be posting our recipe for homemade Mexican chorizo soon, but for now, this seems like your best bet.

Use any leftover chicken you have; we used some of last week’s leftover fried chicken breasts. Shred the meat with two forks.

You can use junky store-bought corn tortillas for this dish, or make your own, but don’t skip the par-frying step. If you don’t take a minute to pass your tortillas through some hot oil before wrapping them into enchiladas, they’ll fall apart and you’ll have a mess. This is a critical step.

Finally, finish the dish with any pepper you’d like. We used jalapenos, roasted in the same pan as the enfrijoladas during the baking stage. Russell from Carboncitos tells us that they use serrano peppers that they roast over an open fire until blackened but still crispy, to maintain the character of the pepper. If you can’t take the heat, use jalapenos, and strip the ribs and seeds before roasting. It’s okay to leave the blackened skins on.

Enfrijoladas de Pollo
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 16-ounce cans pinto beans, drained
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • Pinch of ground cloves (about 1/16 teaspoon)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 5 oz. Mexican chorizo, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup Mexican crema, or sour cream thinned with milk
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, cut lengthwise into eighths

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a glass baking dish. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are golden. Add beans, milk, water, and spices; simmer until onions are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Pour about two cups of the puree into a shallow plate or pan for dipping, and set aside.
  2. In a separate frying pan, heat 1/4 cup of oil. Using tongs, add corn tortillas one at a time, for about 20 seconds each, or until tortillas just begin to cook and puff up. Remove to plate. After all tortillas have been par-fried, coat one at a time on both sides in bean mixture. Place in glass baking dish, and fill each tortilla with 1 tablespoon of chicken and one tablespoon of cheese. Fold each tortilla in half, or roll them up. Sprinkle finished enfrijoladas with any remaining cheese. Line any remaining space in the pan with the sliced up peppers; we’ll garnish the finished dish with these, after they are roasted while the enfrijoladas cook.
  3. While the enfrijoladas bake, crumble the chorizo into a frying an and fry until very crispy over medium-high heat, breaking up any large pieces with a spoon, about 10 minutes.
  4. To serve: Remove enfrijoladas from oven. Place two or three of the rolled tortillas onto a plate, and top with more of the bean mixture, the Mexican crema or sour cream, the crispy chorizo, and the roasted peppers. Serve immediately.

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the junk food blog "Spork & Barrel," and "Brocavore," a blog about food trucks and street food culture. His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, Eat Rockland, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

20 Comments

  1. Sometime would you post a photo of real Mexican chorizo? I used to get it in Pittsburg, CA but haven’t seen it since leaving the state (and country!). It’s very hard to describe to someone who has never come across it. They always think I mean the Spanish or Portugese cured kind. I remember it as soft and feeling like warm flesh inside the casing, very red and with a hint of cinnamon. And outside the casing that wonderful crusty texture you speak of.

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    1. I sure will, Stephanie. The Honduran stuff I used in this dish was much closer to what you are describing, after I spun it through a few pulses on the food processor. Otherwise, we may just have to wait until we make Mexican-style chorizo, ourselves.

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  2. Hmmm…why yes, I will have to make this. And I really want your recipe for fresh chorizo, because I’m not super-confident we’ll be able to get it in CT (although Fairway just may come through for us).

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  3. Hey Malcolm, your enfrijoladas look mouthwateringly delicious. At Carboncitos, we use ranchero style chorizo. This is what I’d recommend searching for when you start googling recipes.
    Thanks for the shout outs and keep up the great work.
    Russell

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    1. Thanks for the tip, Russell. I’ve never seen “ranchero style” chorizo (though I am happy to report that I am finding Mexican chorizo again at the local Wal-Mart). What is it? Cowboy-style?

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    2. Any chance anybody out there has a recipe for ranchero style chorizo? I’m usually pretty good at finding things online, but can’t find this anywhere.

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        1. Yeah, I make my own chorizo already. Was just curious because Russell stated that they use “ranchero style chorizo” at Carboncitos. I’ve never heard of ranchero style chorize, so was curious if anybody else knew the difference between it and a regular chorizo. Thanks!

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  4. I’m making these tonight but decided to switch them a bit. Instead of Chicken cause I didnt have any on hand so I’m using Hamburger and Chorizo inside with cheese. But all the rest of it the same.. Can’t wait to taste the results. Next time I will do the Chicken… This is being made fora family dinner for my Moms one year passing. With love Janice

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  5. I am mexican and cook tradicional almost everyday this is a recipe of genuine Mexican comfort food. I was thinkibg about making tthis today and searched for pics on pinterest and any new ideas and found this. I have some leftovers. This should be great! Thanks.

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