Smothered in sauce

When we were up in Pennsylvania last week, Sister-in-Law Kate made us an enchilada feast. Three giant pans of ‘ladas equals a feast any time, any place, anywhere, don’t you agree?

Actually, I’ve never really been an enchilada fan. Sure, I liked them, but I didn’t need them. I preferred to serve my beans straight up, tortillas on the side for scooping. The wrapping, saucing, baking, and cheesing required for enchilada-ing just seemed like extra steps I didn’t want in my life.

That’s all changed, now that Kate fed me her enchiladas. It’s not like her enchiladas were fancy or anything—just ground beef and beans wrapped up in tortillas and smothered in a sauce—but the sauce! Oh my word! I couldn’t get enough of the sauce—sweet, spicy, rich, creamy. Deeply and profoundly comforting, that sauce was.

So yesterday, after a volley of emails with Kate, I made the enchiladas for my houseful of hooligans, I mean kids.

Or maybe I do mean hooligans. Just look at them.

The night before yesterday afternoon (when I made the enchiladas I’m telling you about), all the kids were outside running around when it suddenly got really quiet. Mr. Handsome peered out the window to see what was up and reported that all the kids were ON THE ROOF OF THE BARN picking mulberries. Out he went to order them down to the ground, and a little later they appeared in my back yard waving foam swords and looking like messes on legs.

(Which reminds me of a nugget I gleaned from pinterest: the definition of boy: “Boy, n. 1. noise with dirt on it.”)

So anyway, I fed these stinky, tired (’cause they were up till midnight, picking-sour cherries-to-help-them-stay-awake, the sillies), mulberry stained boys (plus my younger kids, too) these enchiladas for lunch. They were mighty happy about their lunch. And so was I. I had thirds.

This is not a complicated recipe. Unlike other recipes I’ve tried, there is no frying of tortillas and then dipping them in the sauce prior to rolling, thank goodness. Simply put a layer of sauce in the pan, top with the filled tortillas, and then smother them in another layer of sauce.

And just a word about this incredible sauce: I’m pretty sure it’s the butter that makes it sing. Or maybe it’s the beef broth? Perhaps the chili powder? Really, I’m not sure what it is, but the combination of a rich roux thinned with broth and flavored with tomato sauce and chili powder is enough to leave such a taste sensation that enchiladas will be your new favorite comfort food for years to come, hallelujah.

Kate’s Enchiladas
Adapted from my sister-in-law’s recipe

Make these with store-bought ingredients or all from scratch—you can’t go wrong either way. (Though I am partial to the toothsomeness that comes from homemade flour tortillas.)

Also, this recipe, aside from the sauce which yields enough sauce for one 9 x 13 pan of enchiladas, has no real measurements.

For the sauce:
5 tablespoons butter
½ cup flour
1 ½ cups beef broth
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tablespoons chili powder
½ teaspoon salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Whisking steadily, add the broth. When the mixture is thick and bubbly (keep whisking!), add the remaining ingredients and heat through.

For the enchiladas:
*some ground beef that’s been fried up with some chopped onion and green pepper and a sprinkle of salt
*a couple cups of cooked, drained beans, black, red, or pinto—add these to the meat mixture
*a stack of flour tortillas (I made a double batch and had some left over)
*3-4 cups grated, good melting cheese (Monterey Jack, cheddar, provolone, Colby, whatever)
*optional garnishes: fresh cilantro, sour cream, green onions, chives, fresh tomatillo salsa, black olives, etc.

Spread half the sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.

Fill the tortillas with some meat-and-bean mixture and some of the cheese. Roll them up and place seam-side-down in the pan on top of the sauce. Repeat until the pan is full. Spread the remaining sauce over the enchiladas.

Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the enchiladas are heated through. Remove the foil and sprinkle with the remaining cup or two of cheese. Bake, uncovered, for another 10 minutes.

Serve with the optional garnishes.

Note: these can be assembled ahead of time and frozen. Simply thaw at room temperature and then bake. Leftovers keep well, too.

This same time, years previous: my boy children, old-fashioned vanilla ice cream


  • Kate

    Glad you enjoyed. I feel famous (in a vague sort of way) seeing my name in print here. Still popping in to see if the cranberry orange scones make the blog. If you're not inspired to write about them you can e-mail the recipe.

  • Marie M.

    I love, love enchiladas. I usually make Enchiladas Verde with chicken. Time to get out of my rut. I try to include Guacamole and sometimes Pico de Gallo for garnishes. I clicked on your link for fresh tomatillo salsa. I've never seen this salsa. I love Salsa Verde (lower case?) but the kind I use is always blitzed in a blender until it's pretty much soup. Some people cook it as well. Have to try it — soon. Oh dear, it's 9:30 am and I want Mexican food — for breakfast. And a raisin tart — I'm watching From Martha's
    Kitchen — guess what was dessert?

  • Megan@SortaCrunchy

    Enchiladas = my heart's desire.

    I could eat enchiladas every single week and never tire of them. I make them A LOT but have never fried the tortillas and dipped them first. Hmmmm.

    Anyway, this sauce looks killer in all the best ways. TOTALLY MAKING THESE.

  • Kate

    Weird! I made chicken enchiladas for tonight's supper. It's in the fridge ready to bake. One of my favorite meals. Can't wait. (These look good too)

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