Thursday, April 28, 2011

Beef enchiladas with chipotle-pasilla chili gravy



For Lent, I gave up beef. Now, I wouldn’t say that I necessarily have a beef-eating problem, but there was a period right before Ash Wednesday when I found myself eating beef at least twice a day. My body urged me to take a break, and so I did.

Actually, after a while I didn’t miss it that much—there are plenty of other satisfying foods to eat in the world. That said, a reader over on my Facebook page asked for a beef enchilada recipe. Her request took root and grew throughout my abstention, and as soon as Easter arrived I decided to make beef enchiladas my first order of business.

I have to admit that I seldom order beef enchiladas when I eat Tex-Mex. Nope, I’m more a cheese enchilada or sour-cream enchilada gal. I was trying to remember the last time I even ate beef enchiladas, and the best I could deduce was that it was several years ago when a couple was added to a combination platter.



In my recollection, however, it was a fine specimen of the enchilada genre. The tortillas were drowning in a soulful and smooth chili gravy, while the ground beef filling was peppery and bright. I mixed each bite with some beans and rice, and the iceberg lettuce garnish added a cooling contrast to the richness of the beef. Yep, it was an excellent Tex-Mex meal.

My aim was to try and recreate this experience in my own kitchen. While ancho chiles are normally the base of Tex-Mex sauces, I decided to use pasilla chiles, which are similar in flavor but with more of a bittersweet tone. I also added chipotle chiles, for their smoky heat.

For the filling, I opted to go with ground beef. Now, there are some who prefer shredded beef as a filling, but when I was young I suffered through a plate of enchiladas with shreds so tough they made my mouth sore. I’ve avoided this type of enchilada ever since. I kept my filling simple by flavoring the ground beef with only onion, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. A spoonful of the chili gravy stirred into the meat made it complete.



The enchiladas came together in no time, and were extremely satisfying. And yes, these beef enchiladas were not only a welcome return to eating beef, but I’m certain they’ll be a welcome part of my Tex-Mex cooking rotation, as well. They made me smile and hopefully they'll make you smile, too.

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As an addendum, I am thrilled that Homesick Texan is a finalist in the Best Regional Cuisine category for the second annual Saveur Best Food Blog Awards, as I see it as recognition that Texan cuisine is indeed worthy of respect and praise. If you care to vote, please visit Saveur. Thank you!

Beef enchiladas with chipotle-pasilla chili gravy

For the pasilla-chipotle chili gravy:
1 or 2 dried chipotle chiles (depending on how hot you want it), seeds and stems removed
4 dried pasilla chiles, seeds and stems removed
1/4 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Pinch of ground allspice
3 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the enchiladas:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced and divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of lard or vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)


Method:
In a dry skillet heated on high, toast the pasilla and chipotle chiles on each side for about 10 seconds or just until they start to puff. Fill the skillet with enough water to cover chiles. Leave the heat on until water begins to boil and then turn off the heat and let the chiles soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Once hydrated, discard the soaking water and rinse the chiles. Place in a blender.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, in heat up the vegetable oil and while occasionally stirring cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Place cooked onion and garlic into the blender, along with the cumin, oregano, allspice and the broth. Blend until smooth.

In a pot, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil on low heat, whisking in the flour until well incorporated. Pour in the sauce and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and black pepper to taste and adjust other seasonings as needed. 


Meanwhile, in a skillet on medium heat (I use the same one that I used for the onions and garlic) add the ground beef, half of the diced onions and garlic. While stirring occasionally, cook the meat until browned, about 10 minutes. (If you like, you can drain the extra fat once the meet is browned.) Stir in the cumin and cook for 2 more minutes. Taste and add salt and black pepper to taste and adjust seasonings. Stir into the meat 1/4 cup of the chili gravy.

To make the enchiladas, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a large baking dish. In a skillet, heat up the lard or oil on medium-low heat. One at a time, heat up the tortillas in the hot oil until soft and pliant. Lay each tortilla on a plate or clean cooking surface and add about 2 tablespoons of beef and some of the cheese. Roll the tortilla and place in greased baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining grated cheese and diced onions. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbling.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

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52 comments:

Michelle Stiles said...

Ground beef seems like a wonderful enchilada filler. Sometimes I get a good beef craving and I could imagine these enchiladas smothered in warm gravy to satisfy even the deepest hungers.

-Bethany- said...

When we make enchiladas, my dad insists that we dip the tortillas in simmering broth to soften them up enough for rolling. He always says if it doesn't hurt, the broth isn't hot enough. It's nice to see a recipe that looks relatively painless, literally.

Romancisor said...

I love beef enchiladas. While cheese enchiladas certainly have their place-- their glorious place -- I like to eat something a bit more sustaining sometimes. I recently made some beef enchiladas in almost exactly this manner, but with premade chile powder (I know, I know). I thought they came out great, but they were missing something. A more complex chili sauce might just have been that something. Thank you again, Ms. Fain, for your culinary inspiration.

Rashda said...

Love your pictures! My favorites are chicken enchiladas in the plain red sauce. No cheese. Yeah, I'm picky. :)

Russell at Chasing Delicious said...

Gorgeous shots! This recipe looks fantastic. Those pasilla chiles look perfect.

I always found my body liking when I gave up beef. I try not to eat it too often. I will definitely have to try this recipe though.

Bill said...

That chili gravy looks great and would be perfect on cheese enchiladas, too.

Anonymous said...

The recipe doesn't mention oregano or allspice but the method does.

Looks and sounds delicious.

maewestern said...

I can't wait to try this recipe ... just reading it makes my mouth water! My mother makes my very favorite beef enchiladas, but I've found that the beef enchiladas at Alicia's in Alpine are the next-best thing.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Michelle--They do indeed satisfy!

Bethany--That's a good trick!

Romancisor--There's nothing wrong with chili powder, I do that too sometimes. I just prefer using fresh chiles.

Rashda--It's okay to be picky!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Russell--You do feel better, that's for sure.

Bill--It would be wonderful on cheese enchiladas.

Anon--Fixed. Thanks for letting me know!

Muffin Tin said...

I'm wondering what you think about *not* dipping the tortillas in oil before filling. (I occasionally stray into thoughts about fat and calories.) Is the dip in warm oil to add flavor or to make the enchilada more flexible for rolling? I sometimes make an enchilada casserole by layering (cold) tortillas with filling.

An excellent post as always.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Maewesern--I'll have to order them next time I'm in Alpine. I'm a big fan of their Frito pie!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Muffin Tin--The oil both softens the tortillas and keeps them from getting too soggy under the sauce. But I often just wrap them in foil and bake them for 15 minutes or until they're soft (you can do this in a microwave, too, but with paper towels and in less time, obviously). No fat that way!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

These look absolutely wonderful! I have some shredded beef from a brisket I did last week and I'm thinking enchiladas are on the menu!

Anonymous said...

Had an interesting variation of beef enchiladas last week in downtown Houston...Hacienda Guadalajara I think...the beef enchiladas were covered in a creamy jalapeno sauce. I'd never seen that before and they were easily some of the best beef enchiladas I've ever had.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Rocky Mountain Woman--They'd be terrific with shredded brisket!

Anon--Now that sounds amazing! I love creamy jalapeño sauces!

Janus said...

How hot are chipotle peppers, Lisa? I've never done anything with them.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Janus--Heat is subjective. Try one and then you'll know.

Brenda said...

Lisa, this is very much like the beef enchilada recipe that I use. It is one of the few things I cook that makes everybody happy. That and buttermilk pie and buttermilk pound cake.

Bahabob said...

I have about 10 - 12 different dried chilies in my cupboard, but I've not seen any dried chipotle chilies in my market. Can you substitute a couple of canned chipotles in Adobo sauce?

Sarah said...

That is plate of pure heaven!

randian said...

Chipotle peppers are smoked and dried jalepeño peppers.

I'd say they weren't hot, but that's just me.

Elizabeth said...

This looks fantastic - I have a bunch of dried chiles in my cupboard that have been looking for a recipe. And you really can't beat an enchilada.

Maris (In Good Taste) said...

Funny I just had thei the other night out and yours looks so much better. I may actually try to make them from your recipe myself!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Brenda--Those three things definitely make me happy!

Bahabob--Absolutely!

Sarah--Thanks!

Randian--See, sometimes I don't think they're all that hot, then I bite into one that sears my mouth. Chipotles can be tricky!

Elizabeth--I could eat enchiladas every day.

Maris--You should try--it's not difficult!

Deb-ct said...

I made these tonight--my first time with home made sauce and they were absolutely delicious----my husband pronounced them authentic restaurant quality--thanks!

Amy said...

I made these tonight for dinner, delicious and super quick. Thanks for the great recipe

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Deb--That's high praise! I'm so pleased that y'all enjoyed them!

Amy--Thank you--glad y'all like the enchiladas!

Shannon said...

Looks delicious! I add a step which "I" feel is necessary, but obviously YMMV - I heat the tortillas in oil as you do, stacking them as I go. Then I dip each into the enchilada sauce before filling and rolling. IMO it keeps the tortillas from drying out and adds extra flavor through the whole dish. It also makes for a complete "up to your wrists" mess - but that's part of the fun.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Shannon--That's a great step, and I often do it, as well.

Nancy said...

Awesome recipe! This is by far the best Chili Gravy recipe I've ever found. I subbed this chili gravy for the one in your cheese enchiladas. It made restaurant quality cheese enchiladas! I couldn't find dried pasilla peppers, so I used 2 chipotle peppers and 4 ancho peppers. Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

My husband just made these the other night and they were the best I've ever eaten! We are native texans and found your blog through the top 50 list on timesonline.

Anonymous said...

As a native houstonian who now lives in the midwest, I can vouch that these are delicioso! Thanks for helping me bring some authentic mexican up to these parts of the country.

Rachel said...

Made these today with a slight variation because of what I had on hand: -Used fresh pasilla peppers, fresh oregano and canned chipotles -Used tapioca flour rather than regular flour (because I was out) -Made my own tortillas (because I only had 5 tortillas on hand so I had to make the rest) -Ground my own chuck roast because I didn't have preground beef already. These turned out fabulous! For somebody who doesn't like beef much, these were great!

javed vardi said...

What a dish, chili is awesome.My brother loves it very much. in other words he is mad for it.i will surely prepare i for him.

zestybeandog said...

It does look great!

Carolyne said...

Your enchiladas look amazing! Do you bake them on the plates? I love the way they look so natural on the plate, like they weren't disturbed at all going from the casserole to the plate. So authentic.

Do you add the beans and rice after the enchiladas have baked or do you bake the entire dish all together?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Carolyne--Thanks! I add them to the plate after.

Kelsy said...

These look delicious, I really want to make them for my in-laws (who are French) who dont yet know tex-mex, but I don't have a blender. Is it still possible to make and use the gravy without running it through the blender ?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kelsy--You'll need a blender or a food processor to puree the chiles for the salsa.

Tammy said...

We are Texans and love Tex Mex. I live out in the country far away from any restaurants, so I needed to learn how to cook Tex Mex myself. these were DELICIOUS. My husband said they were the best enchiladas he ever tasted!

Anonymous said...

I'm a long way from Texas. England to be exact. I was missing the food I had there and tried this recipe. Much better than the store bought 'kits' here ;)

Many thanks!

Barbara said...

I have lived in Tex-Mex heaven ever since I first discovered your blog and the original chili gravy recipe. I am never without some in the fridge! I will certainly add this recipe to my growing collection, because I love chipotle anything.

For we die-hard fans of chili gravy, I have to know: can it be canned safely? I know most canners say not to can anything with oil in it, but I have asked this question on a canner's website and never gotten an answer, although she mentioned that some people ARE canning chili gravy. She made no further mention of it, and she hasn't canned any. I am just too afraid to try it without an expert's opinion. I'd love to be able to can this in appropriate sized jars for Hubs and me, and to sometimes, uh, occasionally, er, rarely....give one away. :-)

pennzer said...

Lisa, I have a blend of chili powder that I prepared myself from dried roasted chilis. How much should I use as a substitution for the fresh chilis? Thanks--I really want to try this.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Pennzer--I'd use about 1/4 cup and then add more to taste.

pennzer said...

Lisa, thanks for the prompt answer!

Slice of Southern said...

This chipotle-pasilla chili gravy looks awesome! This takes it from typical to WOW! Thanks for a super recipe.

Ted said...

Being a native Texan, Cheese enchiladas (lots of raw onion in the filling) slathered with chili gravy are a true comfort food. I altered your dish slightly, adding a 1/2 pound of browned ground beef to the gravy and substituting the beef filling with cheese and onions. It was wonderful! Thanks.

Unknown said...

Is the sauce something you can make the night before and reheat?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Unknown--Yes, it can keep in the refrigerator for a week.

Unknown said...

Just made the gravy and it is wonderful! I am happily keeping it until tomorrow to make the rest of the enchiladas.
Thanks for the fabulous recipe!
Emily

Karina Kelley said...

This sauce is amazing! First time making chili sauce, or enchiladas for that matter. A friend of mine, born and raised in Texas, insisted I use this recipe. I am a wuss when it comes to hot spice and I found this dish perfect and such perfect flavor! Thank you, and the proportions were perfect, though I only made 8 enchiladas, as I bought a 10-pack of tortillas and in learning how to soak/roll for the first time, I broke two :) Got the hang of it eventually - a learning experience for those of us who don't use corn tortillas often!

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