In the March issue, James Beard Award-winning writer Robb Walsh waxes poetic about old-school, Tex-Mex enchiladas. We thought you might want to make some at home, so here’s a recipe adapted from the Texas Highways Cookbook (UT Press). Enjoy!
Pre-prep enchilada tips
When making enchiladas, you’ll need to soften the tortillas with oil, which makes them pliable enough to roll without cracking and prevents them from becoming soggy. The traditional way to do this is to heat about a half-inch of oil in a skillet over medium heat, then place the tortilla in the oil for about 15-20 seconds. Then you remove it from the oil, drain on paper towels, and proceed with the recipe.
An easier and healthier way to do this is to spray both sides of the tortilla with cooking spray (like Pam). Prepare a dozen or so this way, wrap in a tea towel, then microwave for 30-60 seconds until they are pliable.
Tex-Mex Enchiladas (4 servings)
Using about ¾ of the cheese, place a small amount just off-center in each tortilla, sprinkle on some of the onion, and roll up. Place enchiladas in a shallow baking pan. Ladle sauce over enchiladas, sprinkle with remaining cheese (and additional onion, if you’d like), and back at 350 degrees until cheese melts and the sauce bubbles.
Ancho Chile Sauce
Using kitchen tongs to turn them, toast chiles on a griddle or skillet over medium heat until just fragrant (20 to 30 seconds each side). Rinse chiles under cold water, remove stems and most of the seeds and veins, chop coarsely, and place in blender. Fill blender with very hot water and soak chiles for 20 minutes.
Discard soaking water. Add 1 cup of fresh water to chiles and blend mixture until smooth. Add another 3 cups water and blend again. Pour mixture through a strainer into a bowl, pressing lightly. Set aside.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add ground beef, and cook until browned, stirring constantly. Add flour and continue cooking and stirring for about 2 minutes. Add cumin, then stir in about ½ cup of the pureed chiles, allowing to thicken, then add the rest of the puree. Add tomato sauce, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer.
While the sauce is simmering, grind garlic and oregano to a paste in a spice grinder or molcajete. Add the paste to the sauce, stir in salt, and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and use in a recipe.
From the February 2013 issue.