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By Brenda Hyde
Over the years, I have experimented with making my own enchiladas, trying out many recipes and methods. I've made casseroles, individual enchiladas and everything in between. Last year I finally hit on a method to making enchiladas that isn’t time consuming and has become a family favorite.
Below is the basic recipe, which makes ten enchiladas, to get things started, but it's the variations that make this dish worth keeping. If you've ran across other enchilada recipes you'll notice I skip placing the tortilla in hot oil before filling. When using flour tortillas I found this step wasn't necessary, and added extra fat, so I cut it out.
1 1/2 pounds meat *see notes
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 small can enchilada sauce
1 15 ounce can refried beans
8-12 ounces shredded cheese
10 small flour tortillas
Spread a small amount of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
The Meat: This recipe takes about a pound to a pound and a half of ground beef, chicken, pork or beef. The ground beef is quick and doesn't have to be made ahead so I tend to use that most often. The other meat should be cooked ahead to where it can be shredded before using in the recipe. See below for this method.
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and drain off any grease. Add the taco seasoning and finish cooking according to instructions on the packet.
The Tortillas: Any type of small tortilla can be used but I found the flour tortillas tend to hold together better when baked. The best tortillas are the types that aren’t refrigerated but are found on the shelf near the Mexican food in the grocery store. The fresher the tortilla the better for this recipe. If they seem stiff and aren't very flexible, place all ten tortillas on a plate, then cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave the stack of tortillas for about 45 seconds, longer if they aren't warm. Keep the tortillas covered and remove one at a time to fill.
The Filling: Place a spoonful of refried beans on the tortilla, smoothing it out in the middle. Top with a spoonful of meat, and a couple of tablespoons of shredded cheese. Roll up the tortilla without folding in the edges. (See the picture.) Place in the pan, and repeat. You should be able to fit ten enchiladas in a 9x13 pan.
The Topping: Carefully pour the can of enchilada sauce over the top of the rolled up and filled tortillas. Top with shredded cheese.
Cover the pan loosely with foil and place in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the sauce is hot and the cheese is melted. Cool slightly and serve. They are easiest to remove from the pan with a spatula.
Meat: Boneless chicken, pork or beef can be put into a crock pot first thing in the morning, sprinkled with a packet of taco seasoning, and cooked most of the day. The chicken takes less time, and can be cooked on low all day or on high for a few hours. Remove any fat or liquid, except for a 1/2 cup or so. The meat shouldn't be dry, but it also shouldn't be watery. Shred the meat with a fork, or use a potato masher to break it up. Use for the filling as you would ground beef.
Beans: There are many refried bean varieties. We like the black refried beans, or the spicy variety, but any brand or type of refried beans will work.
Cheese: Cheddar, Monterey Jack or a Mexican blend of shredded cheese can be used. There is only so much room for fillings so go easy on the cheese inside the tortilla, but the amount of cheese on top can be increased as desired.
Sauce: I vary sauce types all the time because there are many brands and they come in mild, medium and sometimes hot. The standard enchilada sauce is red, but I've found a couple of green salsa verde types that are wonderful as well. The minimum amount of sauce for one pan is about one cup, but two cups will work well too.
Toppings and fillings: The enchiladas filled with meat, beans and cheese are a favorite of my family, but there are many variations. Below is a list to consider.
-Mexican or Spanish rice, black beans and cheese
-Refried beans and cheese without meat
-Shredded cheese, sour cream and sautéed onions with or without meat
-Meat, rice and cheese
-Rice, refried beans and cheese
-Add olives and salsa before baking on top
-Mix the red sauce with salsa, then pour over the top
-After baking add shredded lettuce, tomatoes and sliced green onion
-After baking add sour cream and salsa
If you are hosting a family gathering or giving a party, consider making several pans of the enchiladas with each one having a different variation. Each pan of enchiladas will serve 4 people, depending on their appetite. This is an example menu:
1 pan basic enchiladas with ground beef, beans, cheese and red sauce
1 pan with shredded chicken, rice, cheese and green sauce
1 pan with beans, rice, cheese and red sauce mixed with salsa
On the side in bowls:
Salsa and hot sauce
Sliced green onion
Refried beans topped with shredded cheese
Ice cream with toppings