Red Chile Enchiladas

Main Courses

Carrie Fountain’s “New Mexican Heart” Red Chile Enchiladas

Photography by Melanie Grizzel

Serves 4


Red Chile Enchiladas


For 1 Batch(es)


  • 9 ounces dried New Mexico red chile pods
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup(s) flour
  • 4 cups water
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 onion(s), finely chopped
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • Fried eggs, for serving
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Red Chile Enchiladas Directions

  1. Remove the stems and seeds from the chile pods. In a stockpot, cover the pods with water and simmer for a half hour to soften or just soak in warm water for a few hours. Once soft, drain and place the pods along with the garlic in a blender and puree—adding small amounts of fresh water if necessary—until a thick paste is formed.
  2. Pass the paste through a food mill using the smallest grid to separate out the fibrous, bitter skins. This method should yield about 1 cup of bright red, very smooth chile paste.
  3. Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat, slowly add the flour and whisk to make a roux. Add the chile paste to the roux and mix, then slowly add fresh water to create a sauce (for a thick sauce, add about 3 cups of water; for a thinner sauce, add about 4). Let the sauce cook down about 20 minutes.
  4. Soften the tortillas either by steaming them or cooking each briefly in oil. (Don’t fry too long or you’ll have crunchy tortillas.) Serve individual plates of 3 enchiladas by layering each tortilla with sauce, cheese and onions and stacking (as is traditional in New Mexico). Serve with a generous amount of cheese on top.

Recipe notes

I highly recommend wearing food-prep gloves while handling chile pods, no matter how mild—especially if you wear contact lenses or have sensitive skin.

As an alternative (especially when serving a number of guests), Fountain makes a casserole out of the dish by coating the bottom of a lasagna pan with sauce, then lining the pan with sauce-dipped tortillas. She follows with cheese, onions, more sauce and tops with cheese. To make this a very New Mexican meal, she says, add a fried egg to the top of each serving and serve with sour cream, refried beans and Spanish rice.