11 May 2023

Enchilada Casserole - Enchilada Cazuela

Enchilada Casserole - Enchilada Cazuela / www.delightfulrepast.com

My Enchilada Casserole came on the heels of a binge of enchilada making. I made multiple batches of cheese enchiladas, chicken enchiladas, shredded beef enchiladas.
Then after a break from all that, I found myself craving enchiladas again, but not craving that much work. I mean, it's easy enough to roll a dozen enchiladas, but it can get a bit tedious.

I have a natural inclination to make things that take a lot of time, but I have other things I want to do with my limited time and energy right now, so I sat myself down and gave myself a good talking-to ...

... about streamlining, simplifying, coming up with ways to get the flavors I'm craving with less time and effort. The result, this Enchilada Casserole. Made with ground beef. Carne molida. One step.

And I decided to use a couple of other busy-day timesavers, frozen chopped onions and canned diced green chiles. Of course, you're welcome to chop your own onion and chiles, but remember, I was streamlining! 

I couldn't compromise on the sauce though, and homemade is really not that much trouble. It's a pretty basic and simple sauce that packs a lot of flavor. And you can adjust it however you like. If a canned sauce has too much of something for your taste, you can't do anything about it.

Do you love casseroles?

Enchilada Casserole - Enchilada Cazuela / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Enchilada Casserole

(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

The Beef

1 pound (16 ounces/454 grams) ground beef (I use organic grassfed 85% lean)
1/2 cup frozen chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 4-ounce (113 grams) can diced mild green chiles

The Sauce

3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/43 grams) unsalted butter 
3 tablespoons (27grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon oregano
3 tablespoons (2 ounces/57 grams) tomato paste 
2 1/2 cups (20 fluid ounces/591 ml) lower sodium beef or chicken broth

The Enchiladas

10 ounces (283 grams) cheese, shredded (I use half jack and half medium cheddar)
9 6-inch white corn tortillas
4 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 In large skillet, cook the ground beef, breaking it up and browning it well. Remove the fat from the pan by your favorite means: covering pan with lid and draining it off, tilting the pan and spooning it out with a large metal spoon, or using a turkey baster. Then add the onions and salt, and cook for a few minutes. Then stir in the diced chiles. Remove from the heat.

2 In another skillet or wide saucepan, melt the butter and blend in the flour, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne, and oregano. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the tomato paste until smooth and fragrant. Whisk in the broth. Bring the sauce to a simmer. When it begins to bubble, continue cooking and whisking for about 10 minutes, until sauce is thickening. Remove from the heat. 

3 Spread 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) of the sauce in a lightly greased 11x7x1.5-inch baking dish.

4 Heat a griddle (my square griddle can cook 2 tortillas at a time), put 2 little 1/2 teaspoon puddles of oil (about the size of a quarter) on the hot griddle. When oil is hot, lay down the 2 tortillas and cook for about a minute, turning them several times. Repeat to lightly cook all 9 tortillas. Stack them neatly and cut in half. 

5 Dip each tortilla half in the sauce as you assemble the casserole. Place 4 halves with cut edges against the long sides of the baking dish and then 2 halves down the middle. Top the first layer of tortillas with 1/3 of the meat mixture (about 1 cup), then 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Make second layer of tortillas, meat, and cheese. For the third layer, tortillas and meat, then pour over the remaining sauce, and top with cheese. Cover and refrigerate until an hour before baking time.

6 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Bake for about 45* minutes, or until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with sour cream, a squeeze of lime, chopped cilantro, or sliced green onions. Serve with Mexican Rice, Pinto Beans or Refried Beans, and Broccoli Salad.

* If you're baking the enchiladas right after assembling them, just bake them for about 25 minutes, or until bubbly.

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