Weekend Cooking: Stacked Enchiladas

Weekend Cooking: Stacked EnchiladasOne of my favorite meals to make ahead on a Sunday evening is enchiladas. Whether they are rolled, stacked, or in a casserole, the combination of corn tortillas, cheese, chicken or beef and a zesty sauce makes a hearty weekday meal delicious to please a hungry crowd.

ROLLED VERSUS STACKED
The first time I experienced a stacked enchilada, was at Avila’s Restaurant in El Paso, Texas. Known for its Tex-Mex flair, their stack of enchiladas was served stuffed with ground beef, roasted corn, and black beans in between layers of flour tortillas; all foreign to someone who had been eating rolled enchiladas her entire life. I loved the look of the stack and the addition of ground beef but I just couldn’t get over not using corn tortillas.

Read Related: Frugal Foodie: Enfrijoladas

Throughout the years, I made several variations of stacked enchiladas. After many tries, my favorite version here combines the best of what I love from rolled enchiladas and the Tex-Mex version I first experienced years ago.

Stacked enchiladas are simple to make and freeze well for a quick mid-week dinner. Save time by making large quantities of the red salsa and storing in your freezer for later use. The canned variety works just as great. Don’t limit your enchiladas to red sauce. Use green sauce, mole sauce, or blended beans for a simple but flavorful variation to this Southwest favorite.

PICADILLO-STUFFED STACKED ENCHILADAS
Serves: 4

Ingredients
1½ lb lean ground beef (sirloin)
1 tomato, chopped, reserve 2 TBSP for garnish
¼ onion, chopped, reserve 1 TBSP for garnish
1 jalapeño, chopped, reserve 1 TSP for garnish
15 cilantro sprigs, chopped, reserve 2 sprigs for garnish
6 corn tortillas
1½ cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1/3 cup plus 2 TBSP canola oil for frying
½ TSP salt
1/3 cup table cream
2 cups red enchilada sauce (recipe follows)*

Instructions
In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over low-medium heat. Place ground beef and cook, breaking it up with wooden spoon until meat begins to brown. Add onion, tomato, jalapeño, cilantro and salt. Cook uncovered until onion is tender and all ingredients have combined. Set aside.

To Assemble

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1/3 cup of canola oil over medium heat.
  3. Soak a corn tortilla in red sauce and fry for approximately one minute on each side.
  4. Place tortilla in a glass oven-safe dish. Top tortilla with 2 tablespoons of ground beef and 1-2 tablespoons of shredded cheese.
  5. Repeat, soaking each tortilla in red sauce and frying, layering with ground meat and cheese. Top the last tortilla with any remaining cheese.
  6. Place in oven for 3-5 minutes or until cheese melts.
  7. To serve, garnish with fresh cilantro and reserved tomato, onion, jalapeño. Drizzle with cream and slice in quarters.

*RED ENCHILADA SAUCE

Ingredients
4 dried New Mexico chile peppers, seeded and stemmed
2 tomatoes, boiled (or 1 can of diced tomatoes, drained)
1 cup hot water
2 garlic cloves
½  TBSP white vinegar
¼ TSP salt

Instructions

  1. Soak dried chiles in 1 cup hot water for at least one hour. Do not discard water.
  2. In a blender, add soaked chiles with water, tomatoes, garlic cloves, ½ tablespoon vinegar and salt.  Blend until smooth. Pass sauce through a fine sieve or strainer. Discard any chile skins or seeds left on the strainer. Set sauce aside.

Ericka Sanchez

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