Author Notes: Growing up, enchiladas were a side dish tradition at our Italian Thanksgiving table. Hold the phone! How does this connect?
Hmmm, well it all started with my dad’s side, the Spanish side and my wonderful California aunts who we would visit once a year, every summer. My Italian mother learned to make enchiladas their style and later, back in Washington State, a few times a year we would indulge an enchilada feast. My uncle (mom’s brother) loved them so much he asked for them to be a side dish at Thanksgiving. The rest is history and they actually they made a good side, a spicy, corn taste!
This enchilada recipe is an updated version in more ways than one; back then, unless you made your own tortillas the only ones to be found, in our little town, came in a can and the only cheese we could get was some funny American cheese stuff. Seriously! My mom’s written enchilada version is in an old spiral bound fund raising Catholic Church cook book…instructing to buy a can of tortillas and American cheese stuff. By the late ‘60’s we could finally buy packaged tortillas although there was only one brand on the shelves, and finally choose from a larger variety of cheese.
Needless to say (but I will) my recipe has been tweaked a few times since those days. This recipe is my standard version. NOTE: These are great served with Apple Jalapeño Slaw, also posted on Food52.
Makes 5-8 large enchiladas in an 11×8 inch baking dish (depends on tortilla size), recipe easily doubles
- 1 – 10oz pkg. Queso Fresco Cheese, crumbled
- 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup sliced black olive
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion – for topping
- 5-8 large corn tortilla – or homemade
- 1 recipe enchilada sauce (see below)
- In a large bowl; crumble the Queso Fresco Add the cheddar & olive to the Queso Fresco; gently mix, set aside until needed.
- Preheat oven 325˚.
- Coat the bottom of a baking dish with cooking spray and some enchilada sauce.
- Coat each tortilla with sauce. Depending on the texture of the tortilla you may need to slightly heat them to be able to roll easier, I heat in the microwave, 4 at a time, sprayed with a little cooking spray and placed between two paper towels.
- Place 1/3 cup cheese/olive mixture onto each tortilla, roll up. (Reserve remaining cheese mixture for topping the dish, may not need to use it all). Place rolled up tortillas in the sauced baking dish seam side down.
- Generously spoon sauce over each rolled tortilla; make sure the sauce goes between each roll. Top the enchiladas with chopped onion. Top the onion with the remaining cheese mixture.
- Spoon another line of sauce over each roll. Cook @ 325˚ until it starts to bubble throughout (about 1 hour). Let sit for 20 minutes minimum. I let it sit covered in the oven on warm and hold for up to 2 hours.
ENCHILADA SAUCE – note, my mom would use store bought canned enchilada sauce and each can was combined with an equal size can of tomato sauce. This recipe makes about 16 ounces which is more than enough for one recipe above
- 4 tablespoons ground chili powder – Penzeys (I like the ground Ancho)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano – crushed between fingers
- 1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch of ground clove
- 1/2 cup sweet onion, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil – extra virgin
- 1-1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
- Tap water on hand for when needed.
- 1 -15oz. can crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- Combine chili powder, sea salt, oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper and ground clove – set aside. Sauté the onion with olive oil and vinegar, cook the onion mushy – add a tablespoon or two of water when/if needed to keep it mushy.
- Stir in the dry mixture; add water one tablespoon at a time to create a medium thick chili paste – takes 4-6 tablespoons.
- Add the tomatoes or puree, honey, garlic and 1/2 cup water to the paste, stir and simmer 1 hour. Taste test for salt and pepper to your palate.
- Cool to a temperature that is easy to handle and roll the enchiladas.