Enchiladas de Jocoque (White Enchiladas)
One of my favorite recipes that my grandmother Lupe made was her enchiladas de jocoque. She rarely made them, probably because of the unavailability of jocoque in Los Angeles in the 1960’s and ‘70’s when she was teaching me to cook. When she did find jocoque, it was because someone brought it to her from their farm. I remember once my Tio Maximo brought her some and with it she made these delicious enchiladas that I never forgot. Later, she taught me how to make them using buttermilk in place of the jocoque. Now, luckily jocoque is readily available in most Los Angeles grocery stores. If you’re in a location that doesn’t have jocoque, use buttermilk instead. If you can’t find crema, use sour cream. It won’t be as smooth or delicate but they’ll be really delicious. My grandmother never measured so you’ll have to judge by the photos. It’s an involved process, but well worth it.
Grandma Lupe’s Enchiladas de Jocoque
About twenty corn tortillas (it depends on just how many you want to make)
Olive oil for frying
Queso fresco (available in most Mexican markets, use Monterey Jack if you can’t find it)
1 onion, quartered
5 cloves of garlic
Spanish olives without the pit or pimento, I usually buy the ones with pimento and then pick them out
Tomatillos milperos or regular tomatillos (for this recipe, I used both)
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
Roasted poblano chiles, seeded, de-veined and sliced into strips
Roast the poblano chiles on a comal or in the oven till they are tender and the skins are evenly roasted. Wrap them in a wet cloth to let the skins steam off and put to the side.
Once the poblanos are cool, quickly skin them and then split them with a knife to remove the seeds and veins. Cut into thin strips.
Husk and wash the tomatillos. Add to a saucepan of boiling water along with the onion and garlic. Let boil till the tomatillos change color and the onion is translucent. Let cool.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop the tomatillos, onion and garlic into a blender or food processor and puree. Add salt to taste. Add in a handful of cilantro and puree again. If you can’t find cilantro, Knorr makes a delightful cilantro bouillon cube which really comes in handy if you’re mid recipe and realize you forgot the cilantro. You get the same taste but miss out on the nice dark flecks of dark green. Turn of the blender when the sauce is smooth and pour it into a bowl. Set aside. If you have lots of this left, you can add chopped green Serrano chiles and it make a great salsa for chips.
Take the olives and remove the pimentos or leave them if you like. Put them in a bowl, drained of their liquid and set them aside as well.
In another bowl, pour the bottle of jocoque and the container of crema and whisk it together. Add a dash of salt and the white pepper. Whisk again. Set aside.
Crumble the queso fresco into small bits. If you are using Monterey Jack cheese, then grate it and set it to the side.
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. I pour in just enough to fully cover a tortilla, say half way up to the top. Heat the oil on medium heat and start frying your tortillas once its heated enough. Barely fry the tortillas on each side, enough to slightly stiffen them but not hard like a tostada. If they’re undercooked, they will fall apart. Place the fried tortillas on a cookie sheet or a flat plate and let cool.
Now you’re ready to assemble.
Take a tortilla and dip it into the jocoque mixture till its fully coated. Set it on a working surface, I like to use a cookie sheet. Place a few strips of the poblano chiles onto the tortilla, then a bit of the crumbled cheese, then two olives. Dribble a little of the green tomatillo sauce over it and roll it. Gently place it into a baking dish. Do this for each tortilla until you’ve filled the baking dish. You can do more than one if you like. Depends on how many you want.
Pour a little of the jocoque over the top of the enchiladas in the baking dish. Sprinkle crumbled cheese over it and dribble on some green sauce. Garnish with a few olives and bake at 350 for about twenty minutes.
Serve hot out of the oven with rice and beans or a simple salad. We usually have them and nothing else. They don’t last long.