Thursday, April 21, 2011

And Then There Were Nada ... Enchiladas!

I think one of the first meals I made for Bill (what seems like many, many years ago) was a "Mexican Lasagna" recipe I had seen Rachael Ray prepare. It was super easy, layering flour tortillas, canned enchilada sauce, ground beef and cheese. I remember it being good, but for whatever reason it fell off the Tucker dinner menu a long time ago.

So when I saw this recipe for Beef Enchilada Casserole in one of my America's Test Kitchen cookbooks, I was anxious to try it and compare it against that old recipe. You'll see that this one is a bit more advanced than the Rachael Ray version (most likely because that was on 30 Minute Meals ... and I've learned that if you want a really good meal, it's going to take more than 30 minutes!).

Beef Enchilada Casserole
6 corn tortillas
1 (10 oz.) can Ro-Tel tomatoes
8 oz. ground beef
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
6 oz. Colby-Jack cheese
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Salt and pepper

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

Toast 2 tortillas in a 10-inch non-stick skillet (they will overlap) over medium-high heat until bubbling and spotty brown, about 2 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Transfer to a plate and repeat twice more with remaining 4 tortillas.

Trim the tortillas into 4 1/2-inch squares, reserving the trimmings. Tear the trimmings into small pieces, combine with the Ro-Tel tomatoes and their juice in a food processor, and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Cook the beef in the skillet over medium heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the processed tortilla mixture.

Add the oil and onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, 2 teaspoons of the minced jalapeno, chili powder, and cumin, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and beef broth and simmer until slightly thickened and reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce mixture, 1/2 cup of the cheese, and hot sauce into the tortilla-beef mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange 3 toasted tortillas in the bottom of the prepared loaf pan. Spread the beef filling evenly in the pan, then top with the remaining 3 tortillas (they may overlap slightly) and the remaining tomato sauce mixture. Bake until the filling bubbles lightly around the edges and the top of the filling begins to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup cheese and remaining minced jalapeno and continue to bake until the casserole is hot throughout and the cheese is browned in spots, about 10 minutes longer. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

This was so much better than my "Mexican Lasagna" and so worth the extra effort! Seven years ago I never would have taken the time to trim the tortillas or process the Ro-Tel tomatoes, or even make my own enchilada sauce. I understand the quick-and-easy concept, but it turns out it's just not my style any more.

On a side note, this recipe made two GIGANTIC portions. Since the recipe claimed to yield two servings, I simply cut it down the middle and dished it up. I was hungry! Bill was convinced my eyes were bigger than my stomach and bet me $20 that I couldn't clean my plate. Well, being the Man vs. Food fan that I am, I gladly accepted that challenge. And in the battle of (wo)man vs. enchilada casserole ... WOMAN WON! (However, I'm still waiting for my $20.)

1 comment:

  1. Haha, I would've bet on you winning that challenge too! Adam Richman is an excellent mentor.

    I've never had Mexican lasagna/enchilada pie/whatever you want to call this delicious looking concoction. No doubt the extra effort you put into it paid off, regardless of recipe. Hmm... maybe you should be writing your own, completely original recipes. You know what's what!