I remember watching my mother's enchilada-making process so often as I was growing up: dipping tortillas in sauce, filling each one with meat and cheese, rolling and squishing into a saucy baking dish, sprinkling all with a generous handful of cheese to melt and bubble in the oven. It's only now that I appreciate how hard it must have been for her to continue making this Californian favourite after moving to the American Midwest in the late 1970s, at a time when tortillas were almost unknown there. We love enchiladas still, though I usually opt for the bean veggie filling nowadays, and prefer it! This recipe makes four servings, so double or quadruple as needed for a crowd.
Warm 8 corn tortillas, either singly in hot oil, or in a foil-wrapped stack in the oven, gas mark 4 (350F or 180C), for 10-20 minutes.
Dip each tortilla in sauce mixture until completely covered. Put a spoonful of meat or bean mixture and a spoonful of grated cheese (I use a mild cheddar) in the centre of the tortilla. Fold each end up, and roll tortilla up on either side.
In a baking dish, place a few spoonfuls of sauce, spread to cover the bottom of the dish. Place each finished enchilada in the dish. When all eight tortillas have been filled, spread more sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Sprinkle extra grated cheese on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until heated through and cheese is bubbling on top.
Serve with sour cream or creme fraiche, extra sauce, and a salad made of fresh tomatoes, avocados, spring onions, and coriander [cilantro].
(best made 24 hours in advance if possible—freezes well)
- 690g tomato passata (pureed tomatoes) [or 16 oz crushed tomatoes]
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper 1 TBS paprika
- 1 TBS cumin
- 2 TBS dried oregano
Heat the oil and garlic with a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan. Stir until onion is softened; add all spices and herbs. Finally, add passata. Stir well and cover; leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, cool five minutes or so and blend to a puree. Add about 6 oz water and stir well. The sauce should not be watery, but neither should it be as thick as passata; something between the two is ideal. Salt well and stir. Use warm or cold. All the spice amounts can be adjusted to your personal tastes; I throw a lot in and these measurements are not exact!
- 400 - 425 g minced lean beef steak OR chicken OR 2 tins kidney/pinto/black or mixed beans, drained of liquid
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
Place meat in a pan; add an inch or so of cold water. Cook over high heat. When browning well, add garlic and onions and turn down to medium heat and continue to cook. If using beans instead, heat and mash a bit as they warm.
Add these spices to meat or bean filling:
- black pepper to taste
- 2-4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp paprika
Simmer for at least 20 minutes or so, until mixture is thick and no longer watery. Stir in a few spoonfuls of enchilada sauce before using to fill tortillas.