I’m originally from the area around the mouth of the Brazos river to the Gulf of Mexico. I don’t live there now, but I never could quite find the right “home tastes” after relocation to Michigan. Eventually I realized that I’d have to do it myself, and started with a basic recipe and expanded on it. I’m not a purist, this doesn’t start out with “Step One, purchase a small ranch”, it uses canned and jarred foodstuffs. The combination and assembly are really all I bring to it. For lack of a better name, I dub thee the Brazorian Enchilada Casserole recipe.
1 to 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground red meat
salt and pepper
2 small or 1 large chopped sweet yellow onion (about 1 cup)
3 7-oz cans of diced green chili peppers (18 – 20 ounces total)
1 12-oz can of green enchilada sauce
1 to 1 1/2 pounds of shredded soft cheese (Chihuahua, Muenster or mild Cheddar)
large package of corn tortillas (NOT flour!)
1 12-oz can of red enchilada sauce
1 to 2 cups prepared salsa
1/4 cup butter
- Brown the beef in a large saucepan. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper while browning. Drain off the fat and recycle.
- Turn off the heat and add half of the chopped onion, all of the green chilis, and the can of green enchilada sauce. Simmer on low heat for 15 – 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
- While the filling is simmering, coarse shred the cheese.
- Prepare a large casserole dish by coating lightly with butter, then apply 2-3 tablespoons of the canned red enchilada sauce to the dish and tip back and forth (or spread with a spatula) to coat the bottom.
- Melt some butter in a dish, and warm the package of corn tortillas.
- When the meat and chili filling is well blended, turn off the heat and take a break before you start assembly. It’s important to simmer in order to mix the flavors in the beef and the chilis and the green sauce, but if it’s too hot when you perform the assembly, you’ll burn your hands.
- Place all of the ingredients on a counter so that you can easily access them: tortillas, bowl of melted butter, meat filling, cheese, chopped onion, salsa, and casserole dish. Keep a rag or sponge handy for spills.
- Take one tortilla and use a spatula or brush to lightly coat one side with melted butter. Hold in curve of hand and add (to the buttered side) a large spoonful or two of meat filling, a three finger pinch of cheese, a two-finger pinch of onion, and a spoonful of salsa. Roll into a cylinder and place into casserole dish with seam down so that it’s weight holds it closed. Repeat until dish is filled. Use all of the meat filling and 2/3 to 3/4 of the cheese.
- Pour remainder of can of red enchilada sauce evenly over the top of the rolled tortillas, use spatula to ensure the red sauce gets in and around the sides of the dish and the tortillas. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese and onions.
- Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes until cheese melts and sauce is bubbling.
- Step 8, the assembly step, requires practice or at least some experience to get right. The amount of the ingredients, the size of your casserole dish, and the size of the tortillas factor into how the dish will be assembled. Use all the tortillas if you can, cram them in there. It’s actually pretty hard to completely screw it up, so try your best and eat the rest.
- Look for good quality corn tortillas with a coarse grind to the corn. If it’s made from corn flour, it’s still corn, but the texture won’t quite be right. Just say no to regular wheat flour tortillas, if it’s not CORN, it’s not a TORTILLA.
- If the rolled enchiladas split after you put them into the dish (or worse, while still in your hand) heat them up a little more and use a little more butter to soften them up. You can also paint on a little red sauce after it’s in the dish. This isn’t important, it will still taste great.
- Heart Smart warning: this will kill you
- Spicy food warning: It’s not very spicy. I use mild everything and feed this to womens and little kidses, but you can add fresh shredded jalapenos, hotter salsa, cayenne, chili powder or whatever else seems right if you feel so inclined.
- Try reversing the sauces: Put the red sauce on the inside and the green on the outside. Try all green or all red sauce. Green inside and red outside was what I found to be the tastiest.
- Use lean ground beef, buffalo, ostrich, or elk. I’m sure other things will also work just fine… red snapper, gulf shrimp, and rattlesnake come to mind, but so far I’ve only tried beef and buffalo.
- My favorite ingredients: “Zapata” brand Diced Green Chilis, “Hatch” brand enchilada sauce (both green and red), “Camacho Tortillas” (16 corn, 13 ounces), and buffalo from TMZ Farm in Pinckney, Michigan.
- “La Victoria” sauce (green and red) comes in a big 19 ounce can, but that and a jar of cheap salsa work well
- I do NOT recommend “Casa Fiesta” brand enchilada sauce
- Try bison meat and Chihuahua cheese!