People around the world have fallen in love with vibrant Mexican food. Spain especially shares an affinity for it – after all, we helped influence the way it was cooked. Complex spice mixes, zingy salsas, sharp cheeses and rich meat all come together to make dishes which are more than just the sum of their parts.
And enchiladas are extra special – the humble corn tortilla turns into something exquisite just by being filled, rolled and baked. If you've got an enchilada craving, nothing will satisfy it quite like Panchito.
Take a few earthy yellow corn tortillas. Stuff them full of succulent pork that's been slowly simmered in a complex and subtle mixture of herbs and spices until it's falling apart. Roll them into tubes, and ladle over a good dollop of spicy sauce made from chili peppers. Top it with fresh Mexican cheese, and grill it until the cheese is melted and bubbling. This dish has become a popular Tex-Mex invention – it's practically iconic.
One reason it's so popular is that it's incredibly versatile. Swiss-style enchiladas have a béchamel sauce on top and are named after the Swiss immigrants to Mexico, who founded dairies. Enchiladas poblanas are full of chicken and poblana peppers, while you can also swap out the red chilli sauce for mole, green sauce, or refried beans.
People in Mexico have been eating tortillas for centuries. Some scholars think they date back to the Mayan civilisation, and a Spanish conquistador named Bernal Diaz del Castillo recorded them in the early 15th century. Five hundred years later, we still love wrapping corn tortillas around spicy fillings.
The first proper reference to enchiladas arrived in 1831 – they were mentioned in Mexico's first-ever cookbook. Their name comes from the Nahuatl language, chīllapītzalli, which is a combination of the words for 'chilli' and 'flute'. Lucky for us, these chili flutes have stuck around.
If you're craving a comforting enchilada, that's where Panchito come in. They are a local institution, with four restaurants across Barcelona and Sant Cugat – and they serve a mean enchilada. The traditional version is made with corn tortillas rolled around chicken in a spicy tomato sauce, covered in cheese. But there's more creative versions up for grabs, too.
The Swiss enchilada is creamy and mild, made with a green sauce that's more aromatic than fiery. But the michoacana enchiladas are the star of the show – stuffed full of marinated, crunchy achicalada (a mix of everything left at the bottom of the pot), sauce, and topped with a crisp cheesy gratin.