David’s Enchiladas Placeras

David's Enchiladas

This type of enchilada is common in my family’s home state of Michoacán, Mexico. Once prepped, it can feed a bunch of people in a short amount of time, making them a favorite for street vendors to sell in busy plazas, hence the name “enchiladas placeras.” A great meal for sharing with friends and family, enchiladas placeras can be customized any way you and your family like, making them a fun afternoon in the kitchen and a special moment at the dinner table.

Watch David prepare Enchiladas Placeras and cook along!

David's Enchiladas Placeras Recipe

Serves 5-6


  • 8 dried chiles (any combination of rojas, negros, pasillas, or guajillos)
    • A note on chiles: a good place to begin is a 50/50 blend of negros and rojas or pasillas for those who want to start off easy on the spice. Add more spice with guajillo peppers, though you will need to strain your sauce later due to their tough, leathery skins.
  • 6-7 cloves of garlic
  • 4-5 medium potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 bunches of rainbow carrots cut into ½-inch coins
  • 1 pound of queso fresco
    • Traditionally, queso seco is often used for enchiladas, but if you’re not a fan of “stinky cheese” then queso fresco makes for a tasty substitute!
  • ½ white onion, minced
  • 2-3 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning to taste
  • 5 tablespoons of lard or frying oil, divided
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 20-30 corn tortillas
  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce, leaves separated but left whole


  1. Prepare your chiles! Remove their seeds and stems and soak your chiles in a small pot or bowl. If you have time to let them soak all day, you can use cold water. Use hot water if you have less than an hour before you need to make your salsa (step 5).
  2. Preheat your oven to 400° and roast 4 of the garlic cloves, uncovered, until edges blacken. Set aside for sauce.
  3. Set two small pots of water to boil. Boil the potatoes and carrots separately to get just the right texture for each veggie, since they have slightly different cooking times. Be sure not to boil the potatoes for too long, about 9-10 minutes. Each veggie should be soft enough to slide a fork into but not so soft that they fall apart. Drain and let cool.
  4. While your veggies boil, crumble the queso fresco into a bowl, setting aside 1½ cups to be used as a garnish. Combine the minced white onion with the crumbled queso fresco. This will become your enchilada filling.
  5. Make your enchilada sauce. Remove dried chiles from the water and place them in a blender with the roasted garlic cloves and 2 tablespoons of salt. Add chicken broth until only the tips of the chiles are poking out of the liquid, about 1½ to 2 cups. Blend on low until only small chile flakes are visible. The consistency should be thicker than water but thinner than pasta sauce. The goal is to have a sauce that will stick to your tortilla! Season your sauce to taste: if it’s too spicy, water down the sauce with unsalted chicken broth or water. Add salt or more chiles if the flavor is too mild. If needed, you can do a “quick soak” of additional chiles by soaking them in hot water and then adding them to the blended mix. Once you have the desired consistency and flavor, set your sauce aside in a bowl big enough to dip your tortillas in.
  6. Bring a large skillet to medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of oil once warm. Mince the 3 remaining garlic cloves add them to skillet with the diced yellow onion. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add carrots and potatoes to skillet and stir frequently for 5 minutes. Add ¾ cup of sauce to veggie mix and stir for another 5 minutes. Season with salt, paprika, coriander, and other spices of your choice, to taste. Keep the veggie mix warm while you assemble your enchiladas.
  7. Warm up your tortillas individually on a comal (flat cast iron griddle) or as a stack in the microwave for about 1 minute. Tortillas should be warm and malleable to prevent them from breaking while you roll them up.
  8. It’s time to set up your enchilada station! You will need a large, non-stick skillet, a spatula, a butter knife, a fork, a spoon, and an open tray for your finished enchiladas. Place all your ingredients within arm’s reach: lard or cooking oil, queso fresco/onion filling, enchilada sauce, and tortillas. Assembling enchiladas can be a deliciously messy process, so be sure to have an apron and some kitchen rags nearby. My abuela likes to cover the stove with tin foil to reduce the cleanup.
  9. Heat your large, non-stick pan to medium-high heat or high heat, depending on your stovetop. We’re going for a quick “fry,” so it should be hot! Add about 1 tablespoon of lard or oil once the pan is hot. Make sure lard/oil is evenly dispersed throughout the pan.
  10. Dip a tortilla fully into the enchilada sauce and give it a slight shake before placing it onto the pan. Loud sizzling and some wisps of smoke are a good sign! After just a few seconds, flip the tortilla and add queso fresco/onion filling to the middle of the tortilla, no wider than 1½ inches of filling. Too much filling makes the folding part tricky! Using a spatula and fork, carefully fold the two sides together and flip so the seam side is face down. Let sit on the pan for a few more seconds, then remove and place in an open tray. Each enchilada should be on the pan for less than 60 seconds for the entire process. Continue the process until you run out of sauce or filling, adding lard/oil as needed.
  11. Once you have a big stack of enchiladas, it’s time to plate. Each enchilada should be carefully placed on its own romaine lettuce leaf and topped with about ⅓ cup of veggie mix. Add queso fresco and leftover sauce as a garnish. Enchiladas placeras are often served with a side of fried chicken but can be thoroughly enjoyed on their own. ¡Buen provecho!