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.


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


  1. This look delicious. I love that it is easily made all in one pan.

  2. This goes on the "must try" list.
    Thank you for posting it!
    I don't recall the Velveeta enchiladas, but they must have been quite an experience!

  3. Mhmm.. this looks like a tex-mex lasagna. Yum!

  4. This sounds delicious & it's meat-free! My daughter would LOVE this!!!!

  5. I pinned this one to try - can't wait cus it looks so good! I'd love it if you came by & shared this and anything else you want on Makin' You Crave Monday over at!

  6. Hi Abby,
    Visiting from Melt in your Mouth Mondays. This sounds awesome and what a great pic! Stop on over to Comfy Cuisine if you get a chance. Your newest follower!

  7. That looks amazing, can't wait to try it!

  8. This looks so yummy and no meat!!! Thank you for sharing. Visiting from Yvonne's linky!

  9. I love it that you put the enchilada's into a great casserole. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week!
    Miz Helen

  10. Hi there- found you through the hop and am a new follower. This looks great. Yummy! I hope you have time to follow my life in South Africa by

    I hope you are having a great week!

  11. What a magnificent casserole dish! That has my name all over it :)

  12. This looks amazing- reminds me how my Gramps would make it- great memories. I am a new Food Blogger, stop by and let me know what you think!

  13. Sounds delicious!! Wanna try it out! Found you on Craft-o-Maniac

  14. OMG this looks amazing! Mexican food is one of those things I can eat almost anytime. I always seem to crave it.

  15. I'm so happy I found this you. I want to make enchiladas for my Dad's birthday and I needed a recipe and this one looks perfect! Thanks for sharing!!

  16. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipe with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you are having a great week end and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  17. What a warm and comforting meal!!! MMM

  18. Where in the world do you find black flour? I must be outta the loop because I've never heard of it, but I'd love to try this!!!!

  19. @4littlefergusons-- this is a pretty big error on my part, but it's supposed to say black PEPPER instead of black flour. I've corrected it and apologize for any confusion!

  20. Ooooh, I wish I had all of the ingredients now cuz I'd be making this right now!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Pinning on pinterest. ;)

    Tracy Screaming Sardine

  21. this sounds wonderful-got a question though the tortillas get soggy?

  22. I'm new here and love your blog title. I have a couple black cats and love casseroles too, especially this one. It's perfect for a rainy day like today. Thanks, I'll be looking around now.

  23. @amil8- I did not find the corn tortillas to get soggy. Flour tortillas, however, would probably get soggy. If you are still worried, I would recommend frying the corn tortillas first. In a small skillet, heat up 1/4 c oil and cook each tortilla until lightly browned.

    Hope this helps answer your question!

  24. Hi Abby, this recipe looks absolutely delicious. I will have to try it sometime soon. Thanks for sharing. I recently found your blog and will now follow more often. Please pop on over to my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. I would like that. Hugs, Chris


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