I call these enchiladas as they are most like what I get on occasion at Mexican restaurants made with flour tortillas. These are certainly not "authentic", but since I've been making these, my husband no longer wants to go out for Mexican anymore except for social occasions with friends and family.
This recipe makes 10 enchiladas.
The Beef Mixture:
2 lb ground beef - I use 80%
I brown this in a non-stick sautee pan with approximately 1T garlic powder, 1T onion powder, 2t powdered beef bullion, and 1T Worchestershire sauce. I put this on a cold stove and bring it up to a medium high heat (6-7 on my dial). This way more than enough fat renders from the meat to brown the beef lightly if at all w/o burning, there's no need to add any frying fat. I break the beef apart with the flat bottomed wooden spatula and turn, etc. I actually want to avoid much browning rather preferring to cook the beef. It should be slightly underdone at this point. The seasonings are just to enhance the beef flavor, most will go out when you ...
... drain the excess grease! Even when I went on my brief high fat kick I still did this. You don't want greasy filling. I do this by transferring the beef into a screen collander inside a bowl and let it drain. If you really like, you can save that for something else. While it's standing a bit ... drip drip drip ... I prepare the rest of the filling in the same pot (by the way the shiny stuff is the pepper liquid not oil):
12 oz. jar roasted red peppers
4 oz. of plain tomato sauce
3 oz. can of tomato paste
1 or 2t beef bullion powder**
2T or more chili powder
2t Hungarian hot paprika
1t ground cumin
Drain the roasted peppers into the pot and semi-puree. I use my blender with a few pulses. I've done it in the food processor, but that it's messier. You want a "chunky salsa" like consistency. My peppers are jarred only with salt, water and citric acid so I like to use the liquid that has some of that roasted flavor to it, but don't like to use it in prepping the peppers. If you prefer you can discard this or add liquid at the end if needed. I'd say it's about 1/4 c. at most. So everything above now goes in the pot, I throw the beef on top. Everything gets a good stir, lower the heat to simmer (covered if thicker, uncovered if it's a little soupy). After around 10 min it's safe to taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Even though I like my food spicy, I don't overspice this part of the dish. I let this sit on the stove for 15or so minutes for the flavors to meld and beef is fully cooked, then remove from flame to cool a bit.
The Cheese: Around 10 oz. semi-soft cheese cut into 1/4 inch strips/slices
I usually use Queso Fresco cut into 1/4" slices, but this time the store didn't have any. So the deli dude suggested a similar cheese made by Boars Head that I've never heard of before called Queso Para Freir. This is the reason for the ** above. Beef bullion has salt and I usually add some salt source to the filling. But when we tasted this Queso Para Freir it was quite a bit more salty (and for what its worth a bit denser/harder) than the Queso Fresco I usually use. So I left out the salt. I think these tasted better, so the extra $$ for this cheese may well be worth it for me. Bottom line, if your cheese is saltier, omit added salt and vice versa.
Remainder of the tomato sauce from a 16 oz. can left over after preparing the filling and lining your baking pans -- see below -- about 6 oz.
3 oz. tomato paste
8 ounces jalapeno salsa (alternately green chile sauce, or make your own green salsa/sauce), I use Mrs. Renfroes Green Salsa that is jalapenos. It's pretty hot!
2t beef bullion powder
Mix all in a sauce pot, heat and stir. No need to boil. If it's too thick add a little water. You want it like a fairly heavy red pasta sauce.
I prefer to just use a pre-packaged finely grated Mexican mix. The Sargento 4 Cheese I used contains Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla and Asadero cheeses. If you're worried about a few milligrams of starch from the potato starch and powdered cellulose used as an anti-caking agent in the mix, grate your own. I'm too lazy ;-)
I'm not a big wheat eater, but I make an exception for enchiladas. I use the Mission "Carb Balance Plus!" Medium Soft Taco flour tortillas. They're about 8-9" rounds. These are the closest to a "normal" low carb tortillas hands down, both look and taste. They are made with wheat flour and cellulose -- 120 cal/each, 18g total carbs - 11g fiber = 7 net grams. Even eating more starch carbs these days, I still prefer these. I suppose folks could use a gluten free tortilla and such. I did once use low carb tortillas with flax and sundried tomatoes. They were OK. These are better. Oddly enough these come in the non-fridge shelf section in packs of 8, but the refrigerated dairy area in most places that carry them in packs of 10.
Assembly to Completion:
I use Pyrex square/rectangle baking pans. And, yes, I use Pam for a quick spritz. Before making the topping sauce I pour a bit of the plain sauce into the bottom of the greased pans. A thin layer is all you need, but this really helps get these suckers out of the pan later.
Place slices of cheese near the center of the tortilla. I break/diagonal as needed to not overlap and tried to show in the photo that I don't get too close to the edges (this is a bad pic, I probably nudged that piece of cheese on the right in a bit. Spoon on a portion of filling. I just eyeball this. Simply roll up. You can tuck in the sides or not.
Place rolls seam down in the baking dish. Spoon some topping sauce into the groove between adjacent rolls and use a flat spatula to separate the rolls and allow the sauce to get between. Again, this only helps to separate and serve these when finished. Pour some more sauce over the tops using something to spread it. Don't worry over a few bare spots.
Cover dish with tin foil and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until sauce is bubbling - this is usually around 15 min - bake around 10-15 min more. I always just wing this.
Remove foil and sprinkle cheese over top. I only cheesed the pan I pictured above. I'll be freezing the other six and have better luck freezing them w/o the cheese for reheating. See notes below. I used about 3oz cheese. Bake a little longer until cheese melts, then (if you have it) switch to low broil to brown the cheese.
Let stand and serve. We're usually impatient at this time so we don't care if they fall apart a bit getting them to the plate. I usually eat mine with just a dollop of sour cream.
Hands down this dish is healthier and better for you -- regardless of lifestyle -- prepared at home than the fare you'll get in any Mexican restaurant. It could even be adapted a little lower fat for others, it will hardly blow your carb budget using a regular tortilla. It's not authentic, but my hubby has many young single Mexican food loving kids working for him and they've all gobbled these up when I've sent him to work with extras because the freezer is too stuffed. The roasted red peppers are my secret ingredient I stumbled upon once. They add a different flavor. I've not made either in a while, but I imagine it would be great for taco (soft or hard) or burrito filling.
For the full recipe the tomato sauce is 16 oz. total, and 6 oz. tomato paste - the usual size cans available.
As you can see I made a pretty big batch. This dish is pretty easy to freeze in two ways.
1. Often we get good deals on 3lb packages of beef. If I make up a crapload of filling, I'll just make one baking dish like above and freeze the rest along with the remainder of the tortillas from a package and any unused jalapeno salsa (as this is really the only time I use it). Thaw the filling and this dish is put together in like 10-15 min. or ...
2. Freeze the prepared enchiladas. I usually freeze in pairs. In the past I have frozen fully prepared ones. Microwave on appropriate defrost and then heat, finish off under the broiler. However, I find this gets a little soggy. The cheeseless ones can be thawed and then heated in the oven and finished with the cheese as before and seem to come out more "fresh made". Depending on how soggy they are, I'll either remove the foil part way through reheating or leave it off altogether.
Hope you enjoy!