I am currently jealous of any person currently living in an area where the daily high temperatures are not rising above 70º. Here in southern California…we’re still in the thick of the heat. Today we had a major dip and the high was only 84º! Last week, husband and I were enjoying a late summer vacation around the Teton region in Wyoming and Idaho and although it was certainly cooler…it was still ridiculously hot for this late in September. Wild fires still abound and our days were filled with smoky haze. However the brisk early mornings and waning light left me hungry for fall weather. Casserole weather.
I love enchiladas as they tend to include cheese (love), corn tortillas (love) and they beg to be topped with the quintessential Tex-Mex garnish of sliced canned black olives.
No, these hybrid enchiladas will not get you more miles to the gallon…but they are a mixture of enchilada preparation styles from both my family and my husband’s family.
Woody likes his enchiladas on the spicy-side and I prefer it a bit milder so I tried to maximize the flavor of the sauce while not creating a volcanic sauce that would ruin the fun of my dinner. Truly…I winged it.
In its most basic form, enchilada sauce is tomato sauce that has been flavored with chilies, onions and spices. There are plenty of recipes out there to use as a starting point. You’ll also notice from the above photo, that I used a portion of prepared enchilada sauce in making my sauce. I tend to not love the sauces straight from the can, but they can enhance the depth of your sauce and make things a bit more complex.
Enchiladas can be made with flour or corn tortillas. I like both, but they are very different, with corn being more authentic. To use corn tortillas and make them malleable, you need to soften each one in a bit of hot vegetable or canola oil first. Heat a shallow fry pan that is at least the size of your tortillas with ¼” of oil in the bottom. You are not trying to make crispy tortillas…rather they should soak up a bit of oil which will make them easy to roll without tearing and ripping. Using tongs, slip each tortilla into the warm oil for no more than 5-15 seconds per side and stack warm on a plate. It’s best to do more than you think you will need so you don’t have to go back and repeat this step. When the oil gets low, just add a bit more and let it heat back up. If the oil is spitting, it is probably too hot.
I filled these enchiladas with jack cheese and Ortega green chiles. Cut the cheese into ¼ to 1/3 inch logs and slice the canned whole green chiles into lengthwise slices. Place one of each onto a tortilla and roll tightly and place the seam side down into a baking dish. Continue until you have filled the pan and squished in as many as possible.
While I was building the enchiladas, my sauce was bubbling away on the stove. When the pan is filled, it is time to lade the sauce over the enchiladas.
I started the sauce with sautéing a thinly sliced onion which is why it looks a bit chunky and stringy.
Smooth sauce over the top, letting it settle into the nooks and crannies. Tope with shredded cheese and (of course) sliced black olives.
Now it’s time to bake this delicious pan of cheesy goodness. You can also wrap it with foil and freeze it at this point – I had enough to feed an army…so I froze a whole second pan for sometime in November! Bake at 350º for 20-30 minutes (from frozen it will probably need more like 45-60 minutes – and you can put it directly in a cold oven, and that way you can avoid the risk of your dish breaking from temperature shock as it will heat up with the oven). If it is browning too quickly, cover with a piece of foil.
Let it stand for a few minutes once you remove it from the oven and then serve it up with your favorite sides. We went with beans and a little garnish of fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream (which didn’t make it into the photo).
Side note: I out-spiced myself with this particular dish. In my attempt to satisfy my husband’s need for some heat…I went a bit far with the chiles, cayenne and chile powder. Oops! At least one of us loved it! The sour cream helped me cool down the dish for my pathetic pallet.
What are you cooking now that the weather has turned (in most places)?