Cheese Enchiladas With Chili Gravy
Here is a recipe adapted from one that the great Tex-Mex scholar and restaurateur Robb Walsh serves at his El Real Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston. You can find similar ones served all over South Texas, often served with rice and refried beans. I think it’s an excellent side dish for a cookout of grilled chicken or pork, but you could also slide a few fried eggs over the top and call it breakfast, or don't and use vegetable stock or water, and call it a vegetarian supper. Make sure to leave some bare tortilla peeking out on each side of the gravy and cheese so it grows crackly and awesome.
- Serves: 4 persons
- ¼cup neutral oil, like canola, or use lard or chicken or beef fat
- ¼cup all-purpose flour
- 1teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- ½teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 ½teaspoons garlic powder
- 2teaspoons ground cumin
- ½teaspoon dried oregano, ideally Mexican oregano
- 2tablespoons chile powder
- 2cups chicken broth, ideally homemade or low-sodium if store-bought
- ½cup neutral oil, like canola
- 12yellow corn tortillas
- 3cups shredded Cheddar cheese, or a mixture of 1 1/2 cups Cheddar cheese and 1 1/2 cups American cheese, like Velveeta
- 1medium-size white onion, peeled and chopped
Step 1Prepare the chili gravy: In a medium sauté pan set over medium-high heat, heat oil or fat until it begins to shimmer. Whisk in flour and stir continuously until it turns into a light brown roux, roughly the color of coffee ice cream, about 10 minutes.
Step 2Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, oregano and chile powder and whisk to combine, then continue whisking for another minute or so, until roux becomes fragrant.
Step 3Add chicken broth, slowly, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking until sauce begins to thicken. Turn heat to low and let sauce simmer an additional 15 minutes or so. Add broth as needed to adjust the thickness of the gravy. Keep warm.
Step 4Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Step 5Prepare the tortillas: In a medium sauté pan set over medium-high heat, heat oil until it begins to shimmer. Using tongs or a wide spatula, place a tortilla in the hot fat; it should start to bubble immediately. Heat tortilla for about 10 to 15 seconds a side, until soft and lightly browned. Remove tortilla and set on a rack set over a baking pan, or just on a baking pan if you don’t have a rack. Repeat with remaining tortillas, working quickly.
Step 6Using a ladle, put about 1/2 cup chili gravy in the bottom of an 8-by-13-inch baking pan and spread it out a little. Roll a few tablespoons of cheese into each tortilla, then place it seam-side down in the pan, nestling each one against the last. Ladle chili gravy over the top of the rolled tortillas and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.
Step 7Transfer to oven and bake until sauce bubbles and cheese is melted, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle chopped onions over top and serve immediately.