¿Quién adora enchiladas? ¡Hago!

shrimp enchiladas

It’s been said previously, and on more than one occasion, that I’m from the South. I look forward to our visits back ‘home’ for a whole bunch of reasons. Sure, seeing friends and family are top on that list. I also like it because my accent gets more Southern-like after a couple of days (maybe even a couple of minutes if I’m around my mom or Kris).

Hitting up all of our favorite food joints ranks pretty high as well. And we’re not just talking Southern classics, people. Don’t get me wrong, I am most excited about Aunt Faye’s Sunday Dinners (chicken pastry included, of course), and I do love a Bojangles biscuit and dirty rice. CookOut milkshake? Yes, please. Sammy’s chicken wings w/ Sammy’s Sauce? Come to mama. And then there’s Mexican food. Oh si chicos y chicas! Sea todavía mi corazón!

tomatillo wrapper

So yes, it’s safe to say, “Yo adoro” Mexican food. Oh yeah. And in NC, there really isn’t a bad Mexican restaurant. And believe you me, there are thousands of ’em – Mexican restaurants in NC are like liquor stores in the projects, or Starbucks in downtown Chicago. You get the point, right? I had my go-to when I lived in Raleigh, El Rodeo (and they had a few locations). My all-time favorite in Durham near our old apartment, Bandidos. There was one near my work too that had the best specials and addicting salsa. And let’s not forget my first “date” with Chris: Baja Burrito (we’re so classy…).


But, it’s just not quite the same here in the Big City. Yes, there are still thousands, and I’ve found some gems, that’s for sure:

Pricey but Tasty: Que Rico!, 2814 N Southport in Lakeview. Great margaritas.
Bar Scene: Bar Celona & Grill, 3473 N Clark in Wrigleyville. Spanish/Mexican. In grad school, this was a great happy hour spot. $3 sangria can’t be beat. Blocks from the Cubbies.
Bar Scene w/ Outdoor Seating: Angels & Mariachis, 1721 W Division. Great new find for sure. I think Jennifer & Jon go here like every week. Or, a lot. They have great margaritas too.
I Can’t Remember the Name of the one with the coconut margaritas, Belmont, West of the Belmont red line stop by 3 blocks. Super duper enchilada suizas.
Supa Dupa Cheap: Flash Taco, 1570 N Damen Avenue. Right off the Blue Line Damen!! This is Chris’ favorite midnight spot, just like everyone else in our neighborhood.
Quick & Cheap: La Pasadita 1132, 1140, 1142 N Ashland. Yes, three locations. They’re busy!

salsa ingredients

In addition to satisfying my occasional (if occasional also means often…) Mexican (food) craving by dining out, I also gravitate towards the Mexican recipes in the thousand foodie magazines I read. I have a stack of tamale dishes that I’ve yet to make, and now that I mention it, I’m not at all sure why I haven’t. And this one sat in the stack for a while too. I suppose I’ve been busy, with things like the quarter from hell in culinary school, for one.

But I finally did get around to it, and I am glad I did. I had to change a few things, but that’s fine. But if you like enchiladas and if you like shrimp, I’d say to give it a go. Plus, anything roasted always tastes better, and roasted salsa verde is top notch for flavor.

roasted tomatillos and poblanos

The cheese used here is also a nice alternative to your typical Mexican cheeses. Queso fresco will always be my favorite in that group, but Cotija is also mighty fine. It’s most similar to the Greek feta cheese, and you could even use feta instead for a similar flavor and texture – the hardness of the cheese is really what you’re going for.

cotija cheese

Now, this is not your speedy Gonzalez enchilada dish. No way Jose. The roasting and making of the salsa is time-consuming, let alone sauteing the rest of the ingredients, assembling the enchiladas, and baking them. But I tell you, it’s worth it and please, don’t buy the crap in the bottle and think you’re being slick. You’re not, and I will catch you. Plus, you should have some salsa leftover for some chips n’ salsa while you wait. And by all means, please make extra! It lasts for days and would make for a great taco salad. Or whatever else you fancy 🙂

Poll to the People: What are your favorite Mexican restaurants and recipes? What have I left out in Chi-town? I’m sure there are many others!

cooked shrimp

Shrimp & Cotija Enchiladas w/ Roasted Salsa Verde
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2009; Serves 4

printable recipe

4 T olive oil, divided
2 1/2 lbs tomatillos, husked & rinsed
4 large poblano chiles, halved lengthwise, cored, seeded; divided
1 jalapeno, halved and seeded (leave some if you want heat)
4 unpeeled garlic cloves
2 cups (packed) coarsely chopped cilantro (plus some for garnish)
1 cup (packed) chopped green onions
3/4 cup chopped red onion (plus some thinly sliced for garnish)
2 chopped roma tomatoes
1 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled & deveined (~32)
2 T fresh oregano
1 t gr. cumin
8 small corn tortillas
8 oz crumbled Cotija or feta cheese
avocado slices


  1. Preheat broiler. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil; brush lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange tomatillos, poblano chiles, cut side down, and garlic cloves on prepared baking sheet. Broil until tomatillos and chiles begin to soften and blacken in several spots, watching closely to prevent burning, about 10 minutes (do not turn). Remove from oven. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer tomatillos to processor. Peel garlic and add to processor. Peel charred parts of chiles; coarsely chop chiles. Add generous 1/3 cup chopped chiles to processor (reserve remaining chiles for enchilada filling). Add jalapeno. Add 2 cups cilantro and 1 cup green onions to processor; pulse until coarse puree forms. Season salsa verde to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer 1 1/2 cups salsa verde to shallow bowl. (Note: Can be made in advance and kept in fridge)
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped red onion and sauté until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper. Add shrimp, oregano, cumin, tomatoes, and remaining chopped chiles to skillet; sauté just until shrimp are almost opaque but not completely cooked through, tossing often, ~3 minutes. Remove shrimp mixture from heat.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush 15×10 inch glass baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread 1/2 cup salsa verde from processor in bottom of dish. Stack tortillas; wrap in damp paper towels and place on plate. Microwave tortillas on high just until soft and pliable, 1 to 11/2 minutes. Place 4 shrimp and some onion-chile mixture down center of tortilla, then sprinkle rounded tablespoonful cheese over. Roll up tortilla, enclosing shrimp and onion-chile filling. Place seam side down in dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, shrimp, onion-chile mixture, and cheese. (Note: you may have leftover mixture). Spread 2 cups salsa verde from processor over enchiladas.
  5. Bake enchiladas just until heated through and cheese melts, about 20 minutes. Using spatula, transfer 2 enchiladas to each of 6 plates. Spoon any remaining salsa verde over; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Garnish with red onion slices, avocado, and additional chopped cilantro, if desired.

5 thoughts on “¿Quién adora enchiladas? ¡Hago!

  1. Chow and Chatter says:

    good post I live in NC but havn;t found them all that authentic but maybe the triangle is better then winston salem

  2. Heather says:

    Ha ha! I should have covered that point: the mexican food in NC isn't really authentic at all and is definitely more authentic here in chicago. You will occasionally find a more authentic spot in NC but that's hard!BUT – the TASTE is better 🙂 and much cheaper!

  3. Emily says:

    Me adoro enchilladas! Great recipe….lots of steps. I'm not a huge fan of shrimp in tacos/enchiladas but I think chicken would be a great swap out here. I need to get on some of my BA recipes…..the magazines are stacking up.

  4. Scrumpy says:

    Thanks for the recs! I'm starting to think no one in Chicago knows how to make good guacamole.I actually like Flaco's Tacos in Printer's Row for a casual little spot at a good price.

  5. the twins says:

    those look great! i love enchiladas. we have so many great taquerias in san francisco, but its hard to find good mexican food at school in new york. thanks for the recipe!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s