Enchiladas were a family staple growing up, though thankfully this cheese enchilada recipe has much less fat in it these days. My mother, a fifth generation hispanic Arizonian, learned this recipe from my grandmother. Note that there are many kinds of enchiladas – green chile, shrimp, chicken, red chili – to name a few. This recipe is much more “Tex Mex” than Mexican, and is very easy make.
A note about the tortillas. The corn tortillas must be softened before they are rolled and baked in the casserole. Frying them gently in a little oil greatly enhances the flavor of the tortillas.
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Grapeseed oil (or another high smoke-point oil such as peanut or canola oil)
12 corn tortillas
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup of salsa (Mild prepared salsa or make your own using cooked or canned tomatoes, roasted green chiles, onions, cilantro, oil and vinegar. Do not use salsa made with fresh, uncooked tomatoes for this dish.)
3 Tbsp of tomato paste
1 cup water
1 cup of canned crushed tomatoes (preferably fire roasted)
1 lb of jack cheese, mild cheddar or longhorn or any mild yellow cheese, grated
A handful of cilantro
1 cup of sour cream
Half a head of iceberg lettuce
1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2 In a large fry pan at medium-high heat add 3 Tbsp of grapeseed oil. Add a tortilla to the pan. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift up the tortilla with a spatula, add another tortilla underneath. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift again, both tortillas, and add another tortilla underneath. Repeat the process with all the tortillas, adding a little more oil if needed. This way you can brown and soften the tortillas without using a lot of fat. You do this process to develop the flavor of the tortillas. As the tortillas brown a little, remove from the pan one by one to rest on a paper towel, which absorbs any excess fat.
2 Sauté up the chopped onion and garlic, then turn off the heat. Add 1 cup of salsa. Dissolve 3 Tbsp of tomato paste into 1 cup of water, add to pan. Add 1 cup of crushed fire roasted canned tomatoes. Taste. If the sauce tastes too vinegary, add a teaspoon of sugar.
3 Put some olive oil on the bottom of a large casserole pan. Take a tortilla, cover 2/3 of it lightly with the shredded cheese, then roll up the tortilla and place it in the casserole pan. Continue until all tortillas are filled and rolled. Add sauce to the top of the tortillas in the the casserole pan. Make sure all are covered with the sauce. If not, add a little water. Cover the whole thing with the rest of the grated cheese. Put the casserole in the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts.
4 Garnish with cilantro and sour cream. Serve with sliced iceberg lettuce that has been dressed only with vinegar and salt. See Perfect Guacamole for a great guacamole avocado side dish.