Enchiladas are a popular part of the Tex-Mex cuisine. Enchiladas in Texas are usually rolled, but New Mexico usually serves stacked enchiladas.
An enchilada is a traditional Mexican dish, typically made with a corn (maiz) tortilla dipped briefly in hot lard or oil to soften then dipped in the chosen enchilada sauce. The tortillas are filled and rolled up, placed in a casserole dish, then layered with sauce and possibly other additions such as cheese and chopped onions or olives.
Enchiladas can be filled with almost anything, depending on the cook’s taste and means. While enchiladas made with meat or cheese fillings are very popular (chicken enchiladas being common), vegetables, seafood, eggs, or bananas may also be used. One popular variant consists of potatoes and white cheese.
Enchilada comes from the verb enchilar (= “to add chile pepper to”). Enchilada literally means “in chile”. The traditional enchilada sauce is just that—dried red chile peppers soaked and ground into a sauce with other seasonings. However, red enchilada sauce may also be tomato-based with red chiles, while green enchilada sauce is usually made of tomatillos and green chiles. Mole may also be used as enchilada sauce.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
[Amer. Sp., fem. of enchilado, pa. pple. of enchilar to season with chili, f. Sp. en in + chile chili.]
A tortilla served with a sauce seasoned with chili.
1887 F. C. GOOCH Face to Face with Mexicans xii. 410 They go to some stand..and eat enchiladas and tamales and drink pulque.
1895 Jrnl. Amer. Folk-Lore Jan.-Apr. 62 Enchiladas are practically corn fritters allowed to simmer for a moment in chile sauce, and then served hot with a sprinkling of grated cheese and onion.
Mexico: Landscape and Popular Sketches
by C. Sartorius
edited by Dr. Gaspey
London: Trubner & Co.
The seats for the ladies were arranged in a circle upon mats, with the provisions in the centre; the men stationed themselves behind the fair sex, and thus in the most cosy manner we began the battle upon chickens, turkies, tortillas, enchiladas (maize-bread with Spanish-pepper, meat and cheese) tamales cakes and such like things.
A Hero in Spite of Himself
(From the French of Luis De Bellemare.)
by Captain Mayne Reid
London: Hurst and Blackett
“Because, Cavallero,” replied she, evidently piqued at the captain’s disregard of her hospitable board, “he is hardly ever here at meal times, and when he does show himself, it is so late that the tortillas enchiladas are quite cold, and scarce fit to eat.”
20 January 1875, The Two Republics (http://www.paperofrecord.com), pg. 3, col. 4 ad:
No. 428, Calle Broadway
BETWEEN MONTGOMERY AND KEARNEY.
En este Restaurant habra
Bunuelos, Enchiladas, Tamales, Ga-
llina en Mole, Etc.
ISABEL G. DE VILLALON.
Jan. 20, 1875
Source: [Estelle Woods Wilcox, comp.]. Centennial Buckeye Cook Book.
Marysville: J. H. Shearer & Son, 1876. 311.
Gov. Safford, Arizona, 1863.
Put four pounds of corn in a vessel with four ounces lime or in a preparation of lye; boil with water till the hull comes off, then wash the corn (usually done by Mexicans on a scalloped stone made for grinding corn as was practices by Rebecca), bake the meal in small cakes called “tortillas,” then fry in lard; take some red pepper ground, called “chili colorad,” mix with it sweet oil and vinegar, and boil together. This makes a sauce into which dip the tortillas, then break in small pieces cheese and onions, and sprinkle on top the tortillas, and you have what is called “enchiladas.” Any one who has ever been in a Spanish speaking country will recognize this as one of the national dishes, as much as the pumpkin pie is a New England speciality.
19 May 1876, Titusville (PA) Morning Herald, “Funny Notes on Texas” (From the Louisville Courier-Journal), pg. 1, col. 2:
A word of San Antonio. I took supper in a Mexican eating house. You never ate enchilada, did you? I hope you never will. You never ate tomallis, did you? Well, don’t. An enchilada looks not unlike an ordinary flannel cake rolled on itself and covered with molasses. The ingredients which go to make it up are pepper, lye, hominy, pepper, onions chopped fine, pepper, grated cheese, and pepper. The hominy is first beaten into a paste or dough and this is flattened to about the thickness of an ordinary batter cake, and then turned several times upon itself, the pepper, onions, pepper, cheese, and pepper being placed between the folds, and over all is poured a sauce or gravy of pepper. In point of looks, the enchilada is, as I have intimated, not uninviting; in point of taste, it is a cross between bicarbonate of soda and capsicum.
27 January 1878, Denison (TX) Daily News, pg. 8:
If Don Santiago will listen to a bit of advice from us, and will have prepared some genuine Mexican dishes, such as chile con carne, tomales, enchiladas, etc., he will secure a good run of customers.
One Hundred & One Mexican Dishes
compiled by May E. Southworth
San Francisco, CA; Paul Elder and Company
ENCHILADAS are made of tortillas sprinkled with cheese, onion, olives, etc. They are adorned with lettuce leaves and radishes, but are always covered with hot chile sauce.
CUT six large red chile peppers in halves, remove the seeds and veins and cook in boiling water fifteen minutes, then press through a colander. The sauce should be thick and smooth. Chop the dark meat of a cold cooked chicken, season with salt and add two tablespoons of the pepper pulp. Beat two eggs without separating, very light, and add a cupful of milk. Mix a half-cupful of corn-meal with a cupful of flour and a little salt; pour the egg and milk in this, making a thin batter. Put a little olive-oil in a frying-pan, and when boiling hot turn in enough batter to make a thin cake about six inches in diameter. Shake the pan until the mixture is set, then put two tablespoonfuls of the chicken mixture on one side of the cake, roll with a knife and remove to the serving-dish. When all are made pour over the reaming chile sauce and sprinkle the whole with grated Parmesan cheese.