Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Step-by-Step Beef Enchiladas
I LOVE Mexican food. I make a number of Mexican dishes, but enchiladas are one of my absolute favorites. Now, I am currently very fond of these Black Bean and Rice Enchiladas that I make that are delicious and vegetarian and are actually surprisingly healthy and full of fiber. My kids like them, too; still, when my older son comes downstairs to dinner and sees a big pan of beef enchiladas sitting on the table, he'll say "Yay! We're having REGULAR enchiladas!" Yes, at 16, he's already a "man" in that sense -- gotta have that meat. So, I'm going to save the yummy vegetarian enchilada recipe for another day, and today I'm going to share my recipe and method for "regular" beef enchiladas. And, hang with me til the end, because there's a surprise later!
Ok, here is the basic ingredient list:
1 package (12) corn tortillas
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can vegetarian refried beans
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1-1/2 cups shredded colby-jack or cheddar cheese
1 can red OR green enchilada sauce
1 cup salsa (any kind)
To make the enchilada filling, saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes in a little vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, breaking the meat up with a spatula, and continue cooking until the beef has browned. Drain any fat from the skillet, then, with the skillet over medium low heat, stir in the cumin, coriander, black pepper, and the can of refried beans. Heat mixture through, and set the filling aside.
Now, the first step to actually making the enchiladas is to soften the corn tortillas so that they can be filled and rolled. This is done by frying the tortillas for just a few seconds in hot oil. I put just a little canola oil in a small skillet and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, slip a tortilla in and let it sit in the oil until the top of the tortilla starts to bubble and puff a bit. Seriously, this will only take a couple of SECONDS.
Carefully remove the tortilla from the oil using tongs or the side of fork. The tortilla will be really soft so be careful not to rip it with whatever utensil you're using. I place my softened tortillas on a plate with a couple of sheets of paper towel on it. Continue frying/softening the tortillas until you have 3 or 4 on your plate. Let the tortillas cool for just a minute, otherwise you will seriously burn your fingers trying to roll the dang things up.
Place a large-ish spoonful of the filling mixture down the center of one of the tortillas. Top the filling with a little cheese, then roll the tortilla up into a slim cylinder. Be careful not to use too much filling, or you won't be able to roll the tortilla up. Remember, these are enchiladas, not burritos! To gauge the "right" amount to use, half of the filling mixture in the skillet should fill 10-12 tortillas.
This is what your rolled tortilla should look like. Place the rolled tortilla, seam side down, in a 9x12 baking pan that has been greased or sprayed with cooking spray. Continue filling the tortillas, and softening and filling additional tortillas, until the pan is full.
With a bit of gentle squeezing, you should be able to fit 10 to 12 enchiladas in a 9x13 pan. Now, once the pan is filled, if you haven't overstuffed your tortillas, you've probably only used about HALF of the filling mixture. Set the remaining filling mixture aside for right now.
Pour the can of enchilada sauce evenly over the tortillas in the pan. Red enchilada sauce is generally spicier than green, and will have a chili-like, robust taste. The green sauce has a milder, more subtle flavor. But both make great tasting enchiladas! Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top of the enchilada sauce, then spoon the salsa over everything. Cover the pan with foil and pop it into a 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes, until everything is hot and bubbling. Note: if you leave the pan uncovered while it is in the oven, the enchiladas will become crispy on the edges. Some people like this, but it does make them harder to cut and serve. My kids like them not crispy.
I serve these enchiladas with finely shredded Romaine lettuce, chopped Roma tomatoes, and chopped fresh cilantro. I love the contrast of the cold and crunchy lettuce with the soft, hot enchiladas. Yum. You could also put out bowls of sour cream, guacamole, or additional salsa as accompaniments.
Here is what the pan of enchiladas will look like when you take it from the oven. It looks like a lot, right? Well, be forewarned that guys can eat A LOT of these enchiladas. Okay, okay, in the right frame of mind, so can I. But seriously, 12 enchiladas sounds like a lot, but it is amazingly easy to eat three of these babies, so you may not get more than 4 servings out of one pan.
Here are the enchiladas, as served. Don't they look great? Ok, now for that SURPRISE I promised you. Remember that half of the filling that you didn't use? Scoop it out of the skillet into a bowl or other suitable container, and pop it in the fridge. You can then use the filling to make another pan of enchiladas a few nights from now -- just soften the tortillas, fill, roll up, and bake as before. With the filling already made and waiting, I can whip up a pan of enchiladas even on a busy school night. Love that! But, here's another option. If you don't want to make more enchiladas, you can use the leftover filling to make nachos for the football game on Sunday! Just spread a little of the filling over round tortilla chips laid out on a baking sheet, then top each chip with a little cheese. Pop in the oven at 400 degrees just until the filling is hot and the cheese has melted, about 7 or 8 minutes. Serve with salsa and pickled jalapenos, and you'll have a football snack to cheer about.