Well. In the blink of an eye, it’s been about two weeks since I last wrote something up. Whoops. School makes time go by so much faster than I remember. Or maybe the older I get, the lazier I am. Who knows.
But for this (now) ancient write-up, we’ll get a little taste of home up here in the Bay Area. Some good old Tex-Mex is always welcome around here where I have yet to find a truly Tex-Mex restaurant. I’ll find it one day. Hopefully. Otherwise I might just have to move back to the land of free chips and salsa with your Mexican food.
Cheese enchiladas in a chile con carne sauce is probably one of my personal favorites. It’s definitely one of those Tex-Mex dishes that I get a craving for. That and Chile Relleno. The great thing about this stuff is that it’s so stupidly easy to make. And then you’ve got a whole pan of enchiladas for yourself. Or I guess you can share it.
The base of this sauce is pretty straightforwards. Onions and jalapenos are all you need on the produce side, and then you just need a good spice mix. This one entails a lot of chile powder, some cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and oregano. A lot of Mexican recipes will instruct you to use Mexican oregano (rightfully so) but I don’t have any of that. Although with the amount of mexican food I make, I should probably get something. So I just use good-old regular (probably Italian) oregano. After that, it’s all about the meat.
I sautéed up some ground veal to start this off. Fancy, right? Veal is nice because it does taste a little bit different (not much) and it doesn’t give off as much fat as some ground beefs will. Meaning I don’t have to drain the fat from the pan after I brown it. Now, typically ground veal is much more expensive than ground beef, which is why ground beef is preferable. But in this backwards state, you can actually find it at the same price. Crazy.
After the meat starts to get a little brown, I throw in the spices, onions, and jalapenos to cook those up as well. Once the onions are starting to get translucent, I throw in the corn starch and garlic and let that cook up to get the corn starch flavor out. Most chile con carne recipes on the internet use flour, but if you can’t eat flour, that doesn’t really work out well. Cornstarch does the exact same thing as flour and I find that I typically use less cornstarch than I would if it was flour.
So once the cornstarch has cooked up a little bit, I throw in the liquid ingredients to finish off the sauce. A can of tomato sauce and some vegetable stock (preferably unsalted) is all you need. Pour that into the pan, bring the entire pot to a boil and let it simmer for a good 30 minutes or so. This will let the chile really thicken up into a nice sauce and get all the flavors to marry. And then it’s all about the enchilada assemblage.
Enchiladas are so wicked easy that I’m surprised I don’t make them more often since cheese enchiladas only require that I grate cheese. For chile con carne, I usually use some sharp cheddar cheese because yellow cheeses (in my opinion) go well with red sauces. If I were making a tomatillo sauce, I would definitely use a white cheese like monterey jack or pepper jack, the same if it were a sour cream sauce. But those are just my personal enchilada sauce to cheese pairings.
As for putting it together, just put a nice handful of cheese onto a tortilla and roll it up into it’s enchilada form. Then I place them in a baking dish I’ve covered the bottom of in sauce and just pack them up like that. In traditional enchilada preparation, you’re actually supposed to soak the tortilla in the sauce before you actually put the cheese in and roll it up, but I find that’s a little too messy for my taste.
Once all of the enchiladas are nestled into the baking dish, I top them with the remaining sauce and then pile on a bunch of cheese before throwing it into a 325˚F oven for about 30 minutes. Once the enchiladas come out, I top them with a little white onion and cilantro to finish them off, but that’s a person preference and totally option. But highly recommended.
Chili con Carne Cheese Enchiladas
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
- 2 tbs corn starch
- 1 lb ground veal
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeño, chopped
- 1 14 oz can tomato sauce
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tbs salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 tbs chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp coriander
- 1 lb block sharp cheddar cheese
- Corn tortillas
- Optional: Cilantro and onion
- Preheat oven to 325˚F
- In a pan, cook ground veal until brown breaking it up as it cooks
- Mix together salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and coriander in a separate bowl
- Add onions, jalapenos, and spice mix to pan of veal
- Saute until onion begins to become translucent, ~5 min
- Add garlic and corn starch and cook for another minute
- Deglaze pan with tomato sauce and vegetable stock
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes
- Put a ladle or two of chile con carne sauce into the bottom of the baking dish and spread to cover bottom
- Place a handful of grated cheese in a line in the center of a softened corn tortilla
- Fold and place into the baking dish folded side down
- Repeat with remaining tortillas until dish is filled
- Top with remaining chile con carne sauce and cheese
- Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted
- Optional: top with raw white onions and cilantro