Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 27, 2011: Red Chile Beef Enchiladas Recipe

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Being from New Mexico, I was introduced to hot red chile at a young age. I’ll never forget the first time I ordered red chile enchiladas at a little café in downtown Silver City; one of those places that looks like a hole in the wall from the outside but serves the most fantastic food. I was 11 years old and the only way I could make it through that meal was to drink about a gallon of water! My ears teared and my nose ran but by the time I was done eating, I was hooked by the intense, wonderful flavor of the red chile sauce.

To this day, my all-time favorite meal is red chile enchiladas, New Mexico style, which means the tortillas (my fave is blue corn) are stacked flat on the plate instead of rolled up. The best topping? A fried egg (sometimes referred to as "ranchero style"). Yum, yum, yum!

This recipe for red chile beef enchiladas is casserole style, which is much easier to make, particularly if you are serving a few people (I often make enchiladas for myself for lunch on a whim - cheese only - and those are New Mexico style). It also uses powdered red chile, which is easier to work with, but the sauce could certainly be made with red chile pods soaked in hot water and pureed in a blender, as is traditional.

Red Chile Beef Enchiladas

Red Chile Sauce:
3 T. grease (lard is traditional; bacon grease adds a lot of flavor; olive oil is healthier)
3 T. flour
1 t. salt (or to taste; red chile sauce really needs a lot of salt)
1 t. garlic salt
½ t. ground black pepper
¼ cup red chile powder
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup water
1 dozen corn tortillas
Cooking spray
4 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, grated or Mexican cheese, such as cotija

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the grease over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly for one to two minutes. Add the salts, pepper, and chile powder, stirring just to mix. Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring constantly. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer until it comes to a gentle boil. Stir occasionally. If the sauce is too thick, add water. It should be the consistency of tomato sauce.

1 lb. ground beef
½ yellow or white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. flour
½ t. cumin
½ t. garlic salt
1 t. red chile powder

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the veggies are softened. Drain most of the grease, leaving about one tablespoon in the pan. Add the flour and seasonings and mix well.

To prepare the tortillas:
Use a small, microwavable plate. Spray both sides of the first tortilla with cooking spray and put on the plate. Spray the top only of the next tortilla and place it, spray side up, on top of the first tortilla. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 1 – 2 minutes.

Note: Traditionally the tortillas are fried in oil, but this is a much healthier and less greasy alternative. If you’re a purist, go ahead and fry the tortillas in hot oil for a few seconds on each side until just softened; drain on paper towels.

To Assemble:
Use a 13 x 9” pan (I prefer glass but if you are using a metal pan, coat it with cooking spray first). Take about ¼ cup of the red chile sauce and spread it across the bottom of the pan.

Take one softened tortilla and place about 1 tablespoon of the ground beef mixture along one edge. Roll it up and place it, seam side down, in the pan. Continue until all tortillas are filled and rolled. Pour the remaining red chile sauce over the tortillas, then top with grated cheese.

Cover the pan with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes more, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
The red chile beef enchiladas served on a plate with homemade refried beans, tortilla chips, and a simple salad of sliced tomatoes and avocados.


  1. Oh this looks so good. I would use lentils in place of the beef (that's just the way my family rolls) but other than that I would make this just as written and I'm sure I would enjoy it.

  2. Mama Kelly - lentils would be much more healthy! Do you have a recipe for using them as a substitute for beef - anything special you do to prepare them? I'd love to see it.

  3. Going to make this on Friday for my boyfriend...I hope they sell red chile sauce at HEB.