Authentic Tex-Mex enchiladas, an aromatic dish in a savory sauce of garlic, cumin, oregano, chili powder and spices. This is the only recipe you’ll ever need and there won’t be any leftovers.
Tex-Mex enchiladas were a staple growing up in Texas and the sauce that covers enchiladas in Texas is chili con-carne – chili with meat. Growing up, I assumed all enchiladas were prepared with chili con carne. Little did I know that chili con carne is regional, mostly a Texas thing.
Family rumor and speculation tells a plausible tale of scarcity, a time when, if you had meat at all you didn’t have much and as such, what you had was shaved into spiced aromatic gravy and shared by the entire family. That way, everyone got a little taste.
So supposedly, hard times lead to the birth of chili con carne. If you know better please let me know but either way it’s a cool story and, more often than not, there was no meat.
Our recipe for meatless chili con carne is a contradiction in name and something my wife Stella (so not her real name) was familiar with, calling it chili gravy because it contained no meat.
Since being introduced to the distinction between chili con carne and chili gravy, I’ve come to realize the meatless gravy is the enchilada sauce of my earliest memories living in Texas and the taste I associate with authentic Tex-Mex enchiladas.
As life, the universe and everything continued its lemming (1) march to the sea, I forgot all about the enchiladas of my youth until one night Stella and I found ourselves craving a fresh bowl of spicy Norte style salsa and chips. We were living in New England at the time and the kind of salsa we love was hard to find. Then the conversation turned to enchiladas and that’s all we could think about. We had to have some, the kind we remembered from our youth.
Stella said, “I know what you’re talking about! I remember eating it and I remember the recipe.” Long story short you don’t have time for, she did remember the recipe and with practice and time the spice mixture revealed itself to us and is in the recipe below.
These enchiladas are a quick, easy, savory tasting aromatic dish that falls into the comfort food category. They are made with chili gravy and can qualify as vegetarian if you use vegetable stock (we use chicken stock). Feel free to add some lean shaved beef or ground beef if you must, a quarter pound should do nicely but honestly you won’t miss it. Enjoy!
Serves 4 or 2 with leftovers (you’ll wish you had leftovers)
What You Need
Cleaver or knife
8” x 12” baking dish or there about
Corn tortillas (you need 10, but buy extra, they tear when dry)
Half pound of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Half pound of Boar’s Head American cheese, white, grated
1 bunch or scallions, diced
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup spelt flour
3½ T spice mixture
½ t black pepper
½ t salt
1 ½ t garlic powder
2 t cumin
½ t oregano
2 T chili powder
Combine the oil and flour in the skillet to make a wet roux and cook until light brown.
When it just begins to smell a little like roasting nuts, add the remaining spices and stir for one minute.
Add the broth and simmer until the sauce thickens. If your sauce looks too thick, add some broth or water.
To assemble, coat the bottom of your baking dish with a light layer of the chili gravy.
Sprinkle generous amount of both grated chesses and add green onions onto soft tortilla and roll into enchiladas and place into your casserole pan.
Pour the remainder of the chili gravy over top and spread evenly over the enchiladas.
Top with cheese and sprinkle with more green onions.
Bake in a 350 oven until the cheese is melted, about 25 to 30 minutes. Enjoy!
(1) I used the term, lemming march to the sea, as a metaphor for time’s continuing effort to age us all right out of existence. It wasn’t until later while proof reading this did I realized the inclusion of the lemming phrase actually perpetuates a lie.
For the record, lemmings do not commit mass suicide as depicted in the Disney’s film, White Wilderness. The entire lemming “migration” sequence was faked with editing, tight camera shots and yes; rodent techs threw a pile of the little buggers off the cliff for the money shot. The movie was shot in Alberta, Canada, which for the geographically challenged foodie is a land locked province nowhere near the open ocean. (1)http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wildlifenews.view_article&articles_id=56