Thursday, September 29, 2011
TexMex Enchilada Casserole
This casserole kicks it old school. In the 1950s and 60s, the cheese enchilada was a staple on almost any Tex-Mex restaurant menu. The "cheese" in these enchiladas was velveeta, which was paired with onions and rolled into corn tortillas that were topped with something called chili gravy. It's not a dish you're likely to come across on a modern menu, at least not around here.
Chili gravy was considered a hybrid between a traditional brown gravy and a Mexican chili sauce, and it was an absolute essential in any Tex-Mex kitchen. Back in the middle of the last century, restaurants played with traditional Mexican dishes to make them seem more familiar to their Anglo-American customers. That said, to my American taste buds, chili gravy actually has very little in common with brown gravy, other than its color. As far as I'm concerned, this is a good thing.
For those who are used to enchilada sauce from a can, chili gravy is definitely within the comfort zone. It's a sauce with more flavor than heat and a familiar mix of spices. Once you know how to make this chili gravy, you'll never have to buy another can of enchilada sauce again.
So why a casserole? Honestly, I cannot roll a corn tortilla without breaking it, and I have tried every method out there. Rolling enchiladas is time-consuming and tedious, and the filling always leaks out. On the other hand, a casserole is easy and fun to put together.
This recipe is adapted from The Tex-Mex Cookbook, by Robb Walsh.
TEXMEX ENCHILADA CASSEROLE
for the chili gravy:
1/4 c unsalted butter
1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp chili powder
2 c water
for the rest of the casserole:
12 corn tortillas, torn in half
8 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
8 oz montery jack, shredded
1 bunch green onion, chopped
1. In a small bowl, combine all the spices for the chili gravy: black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, and chili powder. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour. Whisk for about 3 minutes, or until a light brown roux is created. Add in the prepared spice mix. Continue heating, whisking continuously, for another minute. Pour in the water, whisking to combine with the roux. The sauce should begin to thicken. Turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes. If sauce gets too thick, add more water (I always wind up adding at least 1/4 c).
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. To layer the casserole, start by coating the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish with some of the chili gravy. Top with 12 of the tortilla halves. Top with 1/2 of the cheese and 1/2 of the green onion. Top with remaining tortilla halves. Pour remaining (or less) over top. Top with remaining cheese and green onion.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbly.
This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sweets for a Saturday