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West Texas/New Mexico-Style Enchiladas

Preparing the Red Chili Sauce takes some time, but the results are worth it!

12 oz. grated, mild cheddar cheese (or combination of cheddar and mozzarella)

12 corn tortillas, softened See Cook’s Notes

Red Chili Sauce (prepare ahead; see recipe below)

Using about three-fourths of the cheese, place a small amount just off center in each tortilla, and roll up. Place enchiladas in a shallow baking pan, or place 3 of them on each of 4 ovenproof serving plates. Ladle sauce generously over enchiladas, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake in a 350º oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese melts and sauce bubbles. Yield: 12 enchiladas, or 4 servings.

Red Chili Sauce

8 dried New Mexico red chilies 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1 tsp. dried whole oregano 3 T. plus 1 tsp. oil 2 bay leaves 1 tsp. white vinegar 3/4 tsp. salt 2 T. flour

Using kitchen tongs, toast chilies on a griddle or skillet over medium heat until just fragrant (15-20 seconds on each side), but do not scorch. Rinse chilies under cold, running water, remove stems and most of the seeds and veins, chop coarsely, and place in a blender. Fill blender with very hot water, and soak chilies for 20 minutes.

Discard soaking water. Add garlic, oregano, and 1 c. fresh water to chilies, and blend mixture for 2-3 minutes. Pour mixture through a strainer, pressing lightly but not forcing skins through, into a large measuring cup. (A food mill works well for this step.) Stir in enough additional water to bring mixture to a total of 31/2 c.; set aside.

Heat 2 T. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and stir in strained chili mixture, bay leaves, vinegar, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, decrease heat, and simmer, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes (mixture will become slightly thicker).

While the sauce simmers, make a roux by heating remaining oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, adding flour, and stirring u

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