Who hasn't had bland enchiladas in their lifetime? Growing up in the Midwest, they were ubiquitous in Mexican restaurants (along with the seafood chimichanga, for more daring diners), and they generally consisted of some soggy corn tortillas filled with greasy ground beef and covered in ketchup. But with the right sauce, they can be quite satisfying. I have thrown in a couple atypical ingredients to this sauce to help give it a little more personality, and I urge you to try it before calling me nasty names.
Slow Enchilada Sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 small carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 serrano pepper
½ small red onion, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1-2 teaspoons New Mexico chili powder
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
tiny pinch ground cloves
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine
Chop the carrot, garlic, pepper, and onion in the food processor until very fine.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the carrot mixture and salt, and saute until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and chili powder and cook, stirring occasionally, another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes (with juice), cloves (trust me), red wine, and black pepper to taste. Stir, cover, and lower to a simmer. Cook at least 35 minutes, but the longer the better. For a smoother sauce, you can run this through the blender at the end.
Keep in the refrigerator up to one week, or it can be frozen up to one month.
Enchiladas for the Skeptic
1/2 batch Slow Enchilada Sauce, above
1 tablespoon red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
1 cup frozen or fresh corn, thawed
1/2 cup black beans
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
8 medium corn or corn-flour hybrid tortillas
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
1/3 cup diced pepper jack cheese
Grease a 9 X 13 casserole dish and lay a very thin layer of sauce in the bottom, swirling to coat. Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a bowl, combine the onion, cilantro, corn, beans, pepper, diced pepper jack, and half of the queso. Season with lime juice and a dash of salt and stir.
Heat the tortillas until pliable, then fill each with equal parts of the cheese-corn mixture. As you roll each tortilla, place it seam side down in the casserole dish. When you have finished this process, cover the tortillas with the Slow Enchilada Sauce. Scatter the remaining queso on top and bake, uncovered, until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes.
Serve with crema or sour cream and guacamole on the side, if desired.