Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cheap Bastid's Homemade Enchiladas & Sauce!

I love enchiladas, especially New Mexico style. But I haven’t really tried making them very often because I just don’t like the taste of the “enchilada sauce” that you buy in a can. It always has a faintly metallic taste that I don’t care for.

So, I took off on a quest to come up with a recipe for enchiladas and a homemade sauce that fit “Cheap Bastid’s” criteria: inexpensive (OK, cheap), tasty and easy to make. And, I think that I was able to get that done reasonably well. I searched the web for recipes and came up with several which I kind of cobbled together to come up with the one I’m using here. There’s 2 recipes—one for enchilada sauce and one for enchiladas. Both are easy although the enchiladas get just a bit messy when you’re assembling them.

Enchilada Sauce
2 tbsp flour
¼ cup good chili powder (New Mexico or Cali)
½ tsp chipotle or cayenne
8 oz can tomato sauce
Ground cumin
Garlic powder
Onion powder
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup vegetable oil

Mix flour, chili powder & chipotle/cayenne in a small bowl. Put skillet on medium heat and add oil. You’re going to make a simple roux. Add the flour blend and immediately start to whisk it. (My first effort to do this burned the flour blend because I was using too much heat so stay with medium). Whisk until smooth which will only take a couple of minutes.
Add tomato sauce, water and the remaining spices and turn the heat down to medium low—a simmer. You want a consistency that is thicker than water but not “gloppy”. How much spice to add? Enough! We like cumin so I go a bit “heavy” on it. But remember, add spices—then taste it! You can always add more and the longer the sauce simmers, the more the spices will blend in.

If needed, add another quarter cup of water. Bear in mind that when you use the sauce on the enchiladas that it will thicken up a bit more in the oven. This made just enough to make the enchiladas. If you want to have some to pour over the finished enchiladas you may wish to double the recipe. Taste the sauce as it simmers and adjust the spices to your taste (in other words if you want it spicier add some more chipotle or cayenne). I added a couple of good squirts of habanero sauce because we like things spicier than most people.

Now you’re ready to get making the enchiladas.

Cheap Bastid’s Easy EnchiladasEnchilada sauce
2 cups (8 oz. jack or mozzarella cheese) shredded
1 lb shredded meat (chicken, beef or pork)
12 corn tortillas
9x13 inch glass baking dish
Green onions (for garnish)
Chopped tomato (for garnish)
Sour Cream

Some recipes call for a quick frying or baking of the tortillas and some don’t. Tyler Florence from Food Network said to just microwave them for about 30 seconds. I did some microwaved and some with no heating and I think just a bit of microwaving works best. It makes the tortilla just a bit more pliable as you load it and fold it into the dish. So put a short stack of 4 on a microwave dish and zap them for about 30 seconds on high. Load those, then do 4 more.

Whatever meat you use—chicken, pork shoulder or beef (chuck/bottom round/ground) is best shredded. Use 2 forks or your hands and put it in a bowl. Shred the cheese and put it in a bowl. Pour enough sauce in the baking dish to just cover the bottom when you spread it out with the back of a spoon. Put the rest of the sauce in a wide opening bowl.

Use your hands. Get messy—you’ll want to wear an apron! Dip the tortilla into the sauce to coat it (actually what worked best for me was to hold the tortilla over the bowl and dip sauce out with my fingers and then “fingerpaint” the tortilla—it coats the tortilla and “saves” sauce.

Hold the coated tortilla in your hand, put a couple tablespoon’s worth of meat in the middle then about a tablespoon of cheese (again I used my fingers). Roll the edges of the tortilla over the meat and cheese then lay it in the baking dish, folded side down. Do this for each tortilla. Then pour sauce over the top and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over that and your ready to bake. Cover with foil.

Put the baking dish in an 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes and you’re ready to go. Plate with 2 enchiladas topped with extra sauce, sour cream and garnished with green onion and tomato.

(I cook. I'm not a food stylist!)

Cheap Bastid’s budget:
So did this meet the “cheap” requirement. Pretty much. I figured that it cost $7.50 for the ingredients using boneless, skinless chicken breast, block cheese shredded, tomato sauce, tortillas, and spices. That fed 3 people generous dinner portions and was enough for lunch for 2 the next day. Three dinners and 2 lunches in a Mexican restaurant would set you back about $45.

The other thing to remember is that if you do this with roast pork or roast beef, that the meat can do “double duty.” Plan your meat purchase so that you can have a roast beef or pork dinner with enough left-over for enchiladas. You can cook the roast beef or pork, shred it and then freeze it for when you want to make enchiladas or BBQ sandwiches, etc. That stretches your food budget farther, reduces waste and increases taste!

If you use ground beef, remember I trick myself by using 12 oz. as a pound. It works! I also buy “London Broil” (bottom round) or boneless chuck when it’s on special (usually about $1.60-$1.75/lb.) and the grocery store grinds it for free. Ground London Broil is about 90-95% lean and ground chuck is 80-85% lean).

Plus, I discovered a couple of other things. Two 8 oz. cans of Hunts tomato sauce costs $1 at my grocery store. One 16 oz can of Hunts tomato sauce costs $1.39. An 8 oz. container of sour cream was $1.35 while a 16 oz. was $1.69. So we did baked potatoes last night with sour cream.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. It’s a work in progress and I’ll be tinkering with it the next time I cook it. That’s the fun of cooking! Getting creative in making stuff that tastes good and saves you money. That’s the “Cheap Bastid” way.

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