Cheese Enchiladas

Cheese enchiladas are a Tex-Mex mainstay. A plate of enchiladas, refried beans and Mexican Red Rice is one of the meals that expatriate Texans long for. And although Mexican restaurants are found nationwide these days, take it from a Texan, it's not the same. For our recipe photo, we made charro beans.

For the Enchiladas

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup olive or canola oil
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 4 cups grated Longhorn cheese
  • Chili Gravy (recipe follows)

For the Chili Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons shortening or lard
  • 2 tablespoons masa harina or, if you can't get it, all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (see below)
  • 3 cups warm water
  • salt to taste
  1. For the Chili Gravy, make a light roux by melting the shortening or lard in a skillet and stirring in the masa harina or flour. Stir and cook a few minutes until the flour has browned a little. Add the chili powder, water and salt, and continue to stir and cook until mixture has thickened. Set aside and keep warm.
  2. For the Enchiladas, lightly grease a 9x13-inch Pyrex dish, and preheat your oven to 400°F degrees.
  3. Chop the onions, grate the cheese, and set aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a second skillet. Have the corn tortillas ready.
  5. Putting the enchiladas together is just a series of steps. And if you're the kind of cook that freaks out when the kitchen gets a little messy, you might want to consider finding a good Tex-Mex restaurant instead.
  1. Pick up a tortilla with tongs and place it into the hot oil for about 15 seconds. This first step is to soften the tortilla.
  2. Remove the tortilla from the oil, letting the excess oil drip back into the skillet.
  3. Dip the tortilla into the chili gravy, coating both sides.
  4. Place the now-coated tortilla in the 9x13-inch pan, put a handful of grated cheese and onion on one edge of the tortilla, and roll it up.
  5. Place the rolled tortilla flat-side-down in one end of the pan.
  6. Repeat ths process with the remaining 11 tortillas. The pan should be full.
  7. Pour the remaining Chili Gravy on top of the enchiladas.
  8. Sprinkle the enchiladas generously with the remaining grated cheese.

Bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. Serve at once.

Makes four servings of three enchiladas each.

Garnish with Crema or sour cream. On the side, serve Mexican Red Rice and Refried Beans. See, also, our slighty more complex, but incredibly good, recipe for chili gravy. Not so quick, but in a class by itself.

A word about chili powder: The most-recommended chili powder in Texas is Gebhardt's, and for good reason. Also, if you make your own chili powder and can get your hands on some dried chiles pasillas, make some pure ground pasillas, and you'll have an extraordinary powder for Tex-Mex enchiladas.

However, if neither is accessible, you can still make perfectly acceptable and delicious Tex-Mex enchiladas with McCormick's or Durkee's chili powder, or whatever it is that your store carries. If you know nothing whatsoever of chili powder or chiles, then my instructions to you are very simple: Buy a product called "chili powder" -- not cayenne, not crushed red pepper, not ground red pepper.

Total time: 50 Min

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