Ok I have to write something about enchiladas because they are great ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

05 June 2007

Ok I have to write something about enchiladas because they are great

Enchiladas are delicious! I love enchiladas! When were were eating this the other day, John was all "THIS IS THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER" and "I wonder how you could manipulate this so as to let a restaurant be able to charge eighty bucks for it as an entreé?", which I think is a little steep even with ridiculous fancy restaurantosities, but feasible otherwise. Clearly what you would do is make the enchiladas in layers, so you could see the strata of sauce and tortilla and cheese, and cut it into a round stack with biscuit cutters/something of that nature, and place it delicately in the middle of a square plate with a single tiny thai/possibly habañero chili pepper on top and a dribble of créme fraiche around the edge of the plate, and the various dudes working in the restaurant kitchen would be all "what moron is paying eighty dollars (or realistic equiv such as thirty) for a tortilla with cheese and tomato?" but at the same time would all fight over the edges that the biscuit cutter left in the pan and take their plate of delicious scrag ends out to the the back alley at 1am to have with a similarly scrounged end of wine that won't keep overnight. YES! ENCHILADAS! Delicious! and cheap! and if you want to do some ridiculous presentation, that's possible too.

These were founded initially off Anna Thomas's original 1972 Vegetarian Epicure, which is interesting but not exactly formulated to the way I for one would cook thirty years later. Everything I've tried has worked pretty well, but there are also just some bizarre no longer used things like MSG as an ingredient. So I end up changing everything up quite a lot. This case is no different, if only because enchiladas are clearly the perfect vehicle for damn near any filling you want/have left over and need to eat in the immediate future. Or you can just fill them with cheese and green onion and everything turns perfect and tender and more perfect. The sauce is such that it absorbs into the tortillas and makes them totally delicious yet not soggy. On the other hand, the basil and oregano are things I would not have added myself (although why not? Oregano is Mexican), but are clearly a good plan. You should make them.

Rolled enchiladas


olive oil
half an onion, whatever color you have on hand
several cloves garlic
jalapeños or other hot pepper
half a big can tomato puree/something
fresh tomatoes if you have some lying around
vegetable broth
basil, oregano, salt, pepper


cheddar cheese, or whatever other kind sounds good
lots of green onion
some fresh parsley
anything else you think sounds good, like corn or black beans


tortillas, flour in our general case

First, make the sauce. While it's simmering, chop up/prepare the fillings. Assemble; bake.

Sauce. Get out a wide sauté pan and warm some olive oil. Add chopped onion, garlic, and hot pepper (however much you want; we use one or two jalapeños) and cook to soften and aromaticize.

If you need to make broth, start it now. Put all the trimmings from the onion into a smallish pan with any other vegetable bits you have on hand. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer until you need it. It's broth; it's easy.

When the onion mix looks good, add things. If you have fresh tomatoes, add them and let them reduce, then add tomato sauce/purée/whatever. If not, just add the sauce. Stir it up, add spices--just a couple shakes basil and oregano, plus eight or ten good grinds of pepper at least--and cook for a bit to mix the flavors.

Spicing note: canned tomatoes taste awful without salt. If you're using all canned sauce, particularly, you will need to be particularly careful about salt. It's reflexive! Double trouble! Taste and adjust your salt gradually over the course of cooking.

Add a cupful or two of vegetable broth and continue cooking. The sauce will stay hot and thus cook faster if your broth is also hot. This is why I just make the broth during cooking half the time.

Cook down to desired saucey texture. Arrange fillings on convenient plates/cutting board/etc while it's cooking. We most often just make plain cheese/green onion/a little parsley enchiladas, because it turns out to be the best comfort food ever. You can clearly add whatever you want, though.


At this point your sauce should be well cooked and have all flavors distributed. It should be a little more liquid than you want your end result to be. Turn the heat to low or off. You can add broth if the business ever gets too dry.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Get out a casserole dish and put a couple spoonfuls of sauce in the bottom. Just spread it around so the bottom of the dish is wet.

Get a tortilla and lay it facedown in your sauce, still in the pan, holding just an edge up in your fingers. This lets the tortilla get warm, flexible and saucey all in one go. It is a genius technique and clearly belongs to Anna Thomas. Lift it out, get it (sauce side up) in your palm, and fill it with some cheese, green onion, and parsley, or whatever your alternate choice is. These fillings can be as sparse or lavish as you want; sparse fillings work really well, so if you only have a little cheese, it's probably ok. Roll up the torillas and put it in the dish. Repeat until you've filled up the pan. Again, you can be sparse or lavish. It's easy to squeeze fifteen or twenty enchiladas into a pan if you really want to.

When the pan is full, you should have some sauce left over. Thin it with broth if it's totally solid, stir it, then pour it over the pan of enchiladas. Any leftover green onion or parsley can go on top as well. Then grate some more cheese and top the whole business with a layer. If you have no cheese left, that's ok; it will be delicious nonetheless.

Bake for maybe a half hour, or until everything is sufficiently warmed and slightly browned and melded together.

Eat it. Oh my god, isn't it great? It's potentially the best thing.

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