Friday, March 8, 2013

Ode to Our Neighbors

It's very obvious that I'm from Texas.  I do talk about it all the time.  But this time I wanted to pay homage to our neighbors from the state of New Mexico.  They are enchilada eaters just like we are.  Except they do it different.

Now, I need to preface this discussion with the fact that I'm usually set in my ways when it comes to things that I've eaten all my life.  I want it the way I remember, the way that comforts me, that way that I usually think is right.  But this time, I was wrong.  This time I have tried a new way and...I liked it.  My husband and kids said it tasted like restaurant enchiladas.  They were right.

What the heck am I talking about?  Enchilada sauce.  You see, in Texas, the only way we do it is Tex-Mex.  It's usually a sauce that's called chile gravy.  It consists of flour and chicken stock and seasonings and spices. However, sometimes it's good to go out on a limb and cross over the boundaries and try something new.  And this is it.  Red Chile Enchilada Sauce.  If you're not from Texas, you've probably had a lot of different sauces on enchiladas.  I truly never thought I would like anything other than chile gravy.

But, when I said I was going to do a shredded beef enchilada, my husband asked for something different.  Okay, let's do this.  I thought about the regions of the South and the states that border Mexico.  Since we live in West Texas, our closest neighbor is New Mexico.  Rich in Native American and Hispanic tradition, they are known for making enchilada sauce with their native red chilies.  So I thought I'd give it a whirl.  And I can say that I'm a changed woman.  I still love our Tex-Mex chile gravy, but I'm so sold on the red chile enchilada sauce that I will do it again and again.  And shredded beef, my oh my, so tender and tasty.  I hope you love it too.

Grab some chiles and a sombrero.  Chow time!

4 dried guajillo chiles
4 New Mexico chiles
1/4 C vegetable oil
1 T garlic powder
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1 teaspoon beef bouillon
4 C boiling water

1/4 C vegetable oil
1/4 C flour
2 C cooking liquid from the roast
1 C liquid from soaking the peppers

Olive oil
One 3-4 lb chuck roast
1 onion
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 T cumin
1 T garlic powder
1 T chili powder
1 T beef bouillon
2 teaspoons lime
Salt & pepper

Corn tortillas
Shredded cheese of your choice (I used cheddar)

Sour cream

8 hours before making the enchiladas, drizzle some olive oil in a crockpot. Put all the meat ingredients in the crockpot.  Cover with water and season with salt and pepper.  Cook on low until fall-apart tender.  Reserve  4 C of the liquid including some of the onions and garlic.  Shred the meat and remove any fat.

For the chile sauce, remove the stems and seeds of the chiles.  Place the chiles in a bowl.  Pour the 4 C boiling water over the chiles.  Soak the chiles about 20 minutes or until tender.  Remove from the liquid, reserving a cup of the liquid.  Roughly chop the chiles.

Put the chiles and the oil, cooking liquid from the meat, reserved liquid from the chiles, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and beef bouillon in a blender.  Pulse and blend until smooth.  In a skillet over medium high heat, whisk the oil and flour in the skillet.  Pour in the blended chile mixture and cook until thickened and bubbly.  Remove from heat and taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix 1 C of the chile sauce with the shredded meat.  Microwave the tortillas in a damp towel until they are soft and pliable.  Ladle about 1 C of the sauce into a 9 x 13 pan.  Put about 2 T of the meat filling into a tortilla and roll up.  When all of the tortillas are rolled and in the pan, pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas.  Top with shredded cheese.  Cook about 15-20 minutes or until the tortillas are soft and the cheese is browned.  Garnish with desired toppings.


  1. i've tried enchiladas so many times. i can't keep the corn tortillas from splitting. any ideas? i've tried soaking them in sauce, heating them with a moist towel....

    1. That's a great question. I've dealt with that issue too. I use a wet towel and microwave them until they're really soft and pliable. I take about 10 at a time and microwave them about a minute. Then I turn the middle tortillas to the outside and microwave again about a minute. It usually works. If this doesn't work for you, I know that restaurants fry them in a little oil for about 15 seconds on each side to soften them up. I have tried that and it works, but I find that the result is a greasier enchilada. Hope this helps!