Please enjoy my cheese enchilada recipe! Seriously. PLEASE do. You won’t be sorry!
This was one of my favorite meals growing up. Corn tortillas filled with cheddar cheese and diced white onion, covered in red sauce, and heated just long enough for the cheese to melt, leaving the onions still crisp. My little brother hated onions when he was a kid, but my dad always insisted on putting onions in ALL the enchiladas. I mean, it would have been real easy to leave the onions out of one or two of them. He just didn’t want to. I’m not sure what his reasoning was, but I guess it worked because little brother is cool with onions now.
Of course, back then it was made with a can of enchilada sauce. While I still adore canned enchilada sauce, what with its supernaturally smooth texture and powerful single-note-seasoning of cumin, I also like to make my own. It’s been a several-year-long process, but I’ve got my recipe down now. I use guajillo chilies which are the dried form of mirasol chilies (not that I’ve ever seen fresh mirasol peppers for sale). They are mild and floral, with a very smooth brick-red exterior, around 4-6″ long and narrowly tapered. If you can’t find guajillos, you could use 2 ancho chilies instead for a different-but-still-good enhilada sauce.
- For the red chili sauce:
- 5 Guajillo chilies
- ½ cup water
- 2 Roma tomatoes (1/2 pound)
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup diced onion
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- For the enchiladas:
- 1½ cups of enchilada sauce (recipe above, or canned if you insist)
- 12 corn tortillas (better have a couple extras in case of breakage)
- 8 ounces cheese, grated (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Colby- Jack)
- 1 cup diced onion
- Rinse and break the stems off the chilies and shake the seeds out. Tear them up in to strips and boil with the ½ cup water until the water is gone — about 10 minutes.
- Quarter the tomatoes and toss into a blender with the cooked chilies, onion, garlic, salt , and vinegar. Whizz thoroughly.
- Heat the oil in a shallow pan until very warm.
- Add the sauce carefully (watch for splattering) and stir with a spoon or whisk to combine the sauce with the oil.
- Now the sauce is ready to use!
- To make the enchiladas:
- If you haven’t done so already, heat the sauce in a skillet until warm. Keep it over a low heat while you roll the tortillas.
- Dip a tortilla into the sauce, flipping it to coat both sides, and letting it soak just a few seconds to soften it.
- Carefully lift out with tongs and put on a plate.
- Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of cheese and a few onion bits along the center of the tortilla.
- Roll up and place in a 9×13″ baking pan. Don’t worry too much if they crack a little while rolling, just let them get a little softer next time. If they are tearing when you try to pick them up, then you are letting them get too soft. You’ll get the hang of it after the second or third one. We’re going to cover them with more sauce and cheese though, so all mistakes will be hidden.
- Roll up all 12 tortillas and place in the pan. You will probably have to line up the first 8 in the long direction of the pan and then squeeze the last 4 in along the side. You’ll work it out.
- Spread the remaining sauce and cheese over the top.
- Bake at 350 for just about 10 minutes to melt all the cheese (or just stick it in the microwave for a couple minutes)
- Top with remaining diced onion.
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