Enchiladas are part of my five basic food groups since I am a Texan. They fall right in line behind BBQ, Tacos and sweet tea. The enchiladas that are available in my neck of the woods now with their thin orange bland sauce are nothing compared to the earthy rich sauce I grew up eating. Enchilada sauce should be the forefront of each bite, not the after thought behind the lack of filling. Yes, you can go to the store and buy sauce in a can off of the shelf but it doesn't come close to having the depth of flavor that this sauce will give you. Homemade sauce is worth the few extra minutes that it takes to pour the ingredients into the pan. For some reason when I make enchiladas I always prefer a white cream sauce with chicken or veggies and an intense Salsa Roja or red gravy with beef. If you have read my post called, "The Last Supper" then you know how passionate I am about my sour cream chicken enchiladas....but these are right up there on my list.
I love to make beef enchiladas with slow simmered beef brisket but when in a pinch I will use ground beef. I beg you to try the entire recipe, especially the homemade sauce next time you are in a Mexican food mood and tell me if you can't taste the difference. You will never, I repeat, NEVER go back to the canned watered down gross stuff again! And, you can easily double the amount of sauce and freeze it for later use.
Tejas Beef Enchiladas with Salsa Roja - Makes 12 enchiladas
Salsa Roja (Red Gravy)
2 Tb butter
2 Tb oil
3 Tbsp flour
1 6oz tomato paste
3 cups chicken stock
1 garlic cube (I buy these in the frozen food section but they equal one large garlic clove minced)
3 1/2 Tbsp chili
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
½ T onion power
1 Tbsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp salt
In a heavy saucepan on medium heat, gently melt the butter and oil. Once they have melted, stir in the 3 Tbsp of flour. This is called a roux which basically the thickening agent for any gravy base. For this sauce you want to allow it to cook for about 5-6 minutes until it becomes the color of brown sugar. This will intensify the flavor of the gravy prior to adding in all of the other spices.
Once you have reached a nice light brown color, add in the can of tomato paste and stir it around.
Whisk in the the chicken stock, garlic and remaining ingredients. Allow this to simmer on low for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
1 Lb. ground beef (I typically buy ground sirloin)
1 small onion finely diced
1/2 tsp salt and garlic powder
1 tsp cumin, coriander, chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 dash cinnamon
1 Block sharp yellow cheddar grated, or 3 cups pre-shredded (but we all know how I feel about that!)* Be sure to reserve 1 cup for the top
12 flour tortillas (you can use corn but I prefer flour)
In a heavy bottom pan on medium high heat, cook the beef and onions and add in the spices. Use your wooden spoon to break apart the meat into fine crumbles. If it seems a bit dry then add in 2 tsp of olive oil to get it warmed up. Once the meat is cooked through turn off the heat and get ready to get your hands dirty!
In a 9x13 pan, pour in 1 cup of the Salsa Roja and spread it around to evenly coat the bottom.
Take the tortilla in one hand and fill it with a 1/4 cup of meat and a heavy pinch of cheese (about 3 Tbsp) Roll it up and place it seam side down in the pan. Repeat until you have used up all of the tortillas and meat. Once they are all lined up in the pan, gently spoon out the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas and be sure that there is not white peaking through. Next, smother the top of the enchiladas with the remaining cheese.
Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until golden.