Bah! I have seriously been working on this recipe for weeks. Here’s the low down:
- The first time I made it, I thought that I was so clever using a pressure cooker. Yea, umm, I was all set to post that one on the day of the Boston Marathon. The recipe was complete with great step-by-step photos using the pressure cooker and as I was preparing to take photos of the finished product, I learned about the bombings. Could my timing have been worse? Definitely could NOT post that one.
- The second time around, I decided to use the slow cooker. It worked great, but the photos of the finished product were disappointing.
- The next day as I was assembling some more enchiladas to make better “finished product” pictures, my daughter’s baby crisis started and I made the remaining enchiladas for her family, sans the photos.
- In light of everything that has happened in my life over the past week, it seemed ridiculous that I was stressing over posting ugly enchilada pictures. Let’s be honest, when you go to a Mexican restaurant, what does the food on your plate look like?????? Messy, ooey, gooey deliciousness, right? Say “yes”. You know it’s true.
- If you want to see prettier enchilada pictures, look at the pics on Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas and Cheese Enchiladas. The one above? It’s real life, baby; the way enchiladas really look when I make them for my family — every square inch covered in glory.
The #1 thing that makes these enchiladas so great is the homemade sauce. I love to reverse engineer the recipes of prepared food products by reading ingredient labels on cans or bottles. However, it was only recently that I became “inspired” to look at the label on a can of enchilada sauce.
Now here’s a true confession (so embarrassing): I did not know that enchilada sauce was tomato based. I thought that it was chile based. The label on the enchilada sauce left me unconvinced.
Channeling Sherlock Holmes (can you channel a fictional character?) I searched the internet as well as some Mexican cookbooks that I have had for years. The internet lead me to recipes using both tomatoes and whole chiles + spices, as well as recipes using only tomatoes + chile powder + spices. My Mexican cookbooks gave me a measure of comfort in the fact that only one of them contained a recipe for enchilada sauce.
The next logical step was to come up with a good, edible, blog worthy recipe. In the end, I imagined myself eating a really great enchilada sauce and thought about how I could achieve that flavor. The resulting answer surprised me and when I put my theory to the test, the forthcoming sauce was excellent. It even passed the son in-law test.
About the Beef for the Enchiladas
Since the pressure cooker option is temporarily out of favor, I turned to my old friend, the slow cooker in order to get beautifully tender beef and an exceptionally flavorful broth.
The beef chuck roast is seasoned with salt, then browned in a small amount of oil. It is then placed in the slow cooker, sprinkled with chipotle chile powder and cumin, and surrounded by onions and smashed garlic. Beef stock is added and the slow cooker is turned on high. The beef cooks until it is falling-apart-tender.
After cooking, the liquids, onions, and garlic are blended until smooth and become the supporting base of a delicious enchilada sauce. You are going to LOVE this recipe!
Chuck roasts work well for enchiladas. They have a great “fall apart” quality for shredding when cooked in a slow cooker. Sprinkle both sides of the roast with salt before browning./
Heat a frying pan until it is nice and hot. Add two tablespoons cooking oil, then add the roast. Brown on one side, turn it over and brown the other side./
Put the browned roast in the bottom of a slow cooker./
Pour 1 1/2 cups of beef stock over the roast./
Toss the onions (large dice) and smashed garlic on top of the roast and around the sides of the slow cooker.
Add the cumin. Cumin and chipotle chile are added twice in this recipe: once on the meat and then again to the sauce. Yum!
Sprinkle the chipotle chile powder over the whole shootin’ match. This brings a bit of heat and a wonderful smoky flavor to the roast.
When the roast has finished cooking and is falling apart (woohoo!), take it out of the slow cooker and set aside on a cutting board to cool. When cool enough to handle, shred or pull the meat apart with two forks. The meat is so tender that it requires very little effort in the shredding process. Longer/larger pieces can be rough chopped into smaller pieces with a sharp knife.
The “gravy” that is left behind in the slow cooker is outstanding all by itself. It makes a fantastic base for the enchilada sauce. Make sure that you have at least 2 cups of cooking juices. Having up to three cups is okay. Just eyeball it. The cooked onions and garlic are not part of the liquid measurement, but they are used as part of the sauce. With an immersion blender or in a standard blender, blend the cooking liquid, onions, and garlic until smooth. Oh boy, so delicious!
This is the part where true beauty happens. Add the tomato puree, chili powder, ground cumin, granulated onion, powdered chipotle chile, Mexican oregano, granulated garlic, and ground black pepper to the gravy. Mix well. I used the immersion blender for this.
Put the sauce into an appropriate sized sauce pot. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring as needed, for about 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly and the flavors are well infused. Adjust seasonings as needed. This sauce is brilliant! (I’m using the word ‘brilliant’ as the British use it; not ‘brilliant’ as in superlative intellect.)
While the sauce is saucing, finish preparing the filling ingredients for the enchiladas. I prefer to dice canned whole green chiles rather than using canned diced chiles. It has been my experience that the cans of diced chiles have too many pepper “skins” in them. I feel that I get more bang for my buck if I dice the chiles myself. If you’d like to roast your own fresh green chiles to add to the sauce, then all I have to say is YOU ROCK!
Put the shredded beef, black beans, and diced green chile peppers in a large mixing bowl.
Pour about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce over the filling ingredients. Stir everything together.
Things are starting to get really exciting now. Working with one warmed tortilla at a time, spread 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of the enchilada sauce on one side of the tortilla. Put approximately 1/4 cup beef mixture down the center of the tortilla. Sprinkle with some grated cheese. Spoon some of the enchilada sauce on top of the cheese. Oooooooo, this is looking and smelling great!
Roll up the tortilla nice and snug around the filling. Place in a lightly greased baking dish. Depending on how many enchiladas you are making, two dishes may be required.
Top the enchiladas with the remaining sauce. How much sauce to use is a judgement call on your part. I personally prefer a goodly amount of sauce.
Sprinkle the top of the enchiladas with a generous amount of cheese. Generosity is saintly, but that is just my opinion. Take it for what it is worth. Bake the enchiladas in a preheated 350-degree F oven for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the filling is hot.
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