Joe Gracey on these enchiladas: "Enchiladas… are a part of all Mexican regional cooking, but each area’s enchiladas are different, with different peppers, sauces, and fillings determined by local custom, climate, and produce. The Texas enchilada (… Texas does have its own unique, valid form of 'Mexican' food… ) is a corn tortilla wrapped around a cheese or meat filling and heated in a red chile sauce. Unfortunately, over the years it has tended to devolve into what I call the 'truck stop enchilada', which usually means corn tortillas stuffed with ground beef and covered in canned beef chili and tons of yellow Cheddar cheese from Wisconsin. I love Wisconsin Cheddar and I also make my own fabulous Texas chili con carne… but to put them into an enchilada dish is to misuse both with unfortunate results, both culinarily and digestively. I remember when in my DJ days in the early '70s Ry Cooder came to Austin to do a concert on the UT campus and I took him out to eat Tex-Mex at one of the '50's style joints in town. He got one of those big ol' giant platefuls of truck stop enchiladas with rice and refried beans and it was all he could do to go onstage that night for the massive stone lump in his stomach."
"A good 'real' Texas enchilada uses a light flavored, decent white Mexican cheese or a Monterey Jack, and not a whole lot of it, and a red pepper chile sauce with no meat in it. Filling, yes, but also digestible."
Good chicken stock will improve this dish. Better yet is Gracey's Mexican-Style Chicken Broth.
- 4 cups Mexican-style chicken broth or other chicken stock
- 4 large ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 1 3/4 cup corn oil, plus more for greasing
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 12 corn tortillas
- 3/4 cup queso blanco or Monterey Jack, grated
Combine the stock and chiles in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then uncover, reduce heat to medium-high, and boil until chiles are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove the chiles from the broth and set them aside, reserving the broth.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft, 3-5 minutes. Set about 2 tablespoons of onions aside. Put the rest into a blender with the chiles, the garlic, and 1 cup of the broth. Purée to a smooth paste and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, to form a medium-brown roux, about 3 minutes. Stir in the puréed chiles, cumin, oregano, and as much of the broth as necessary to make a thick sauce. Continue cooking for about 30 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep sauce warm over lowest possible heat, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly oil a glass or ceramic baking dish just large enough to hold 12 enchiladas with a little of the oil. Heat the remaining oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the tortillas 1 at a time, turning once, for about 2 seconds per side. As each tortilla finishes cooking, dip it into the enchilada sauce to coat well, then transfer it to a large plate.
When tortillas are done, roll each one around about ¼ cup of cheese, and place the enchiladas side by side, seam side down, into the baking dish. Spoon remaining sauce over the enchiladas, then sprinkle with remaining cheese and reserved onions. Bake just until cheese melts, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and serve.