To say it’s been cold here, is probably an understatement. Weather-wise, Charlotte got some snow followed by sleet on Monday night which resulted in working from home on Tuesday. Since we don’t get a lot of snow here, we aren’t nearly as prepared, so staying off the roads the day after a snow/ice storm is definitely necessary. Me and Cooper bundled up on the couch and watched a mini-marathon of Roseanne, and took these red chile and cheese enchiladas out of the freezer and heated them in the oven. It was the perfect snow day comfort food.
The enchilada sauce is from my favorite dish, Chile Colorado, with spices mixed into it. When making the Chile Colorado, after you make the enchilada sauce and give it a taste, it has zero flavor- and you wonder, how is this going to work?! Well, it gets its flavor from the spices and meat. Here, I stirred in the cumin, a bit of chile powder (if you like it hot!), paprika, and salt, all to taste to make it super flavorful (even without the meat). Adjust it to your liking, cook until it’s thickened, and that’s it. Trust me when I say it’s so much better than the canned version. Enchiladas always top my list of favorite cold-weather foods because of the melty cheese, spicy chiles, and fresh radishes and cilantro, all baked together until their bubbly and hot – I used one of my Christmas presents, a Ruffoni copper gratin dish that nestles these in just perfectly and, because of the copper, holds the heat in. As I’m writing this, the snow is falling pretty heavily outside, and I’m tempted to have another single-serving frozen portion of this tonight…I’m thinking it’s a go.
Red Chile and Cheese Enchiladas
(Inspired by Saveur)
3oz dried New Mexico chiles
2 Tbsp vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 Tbsp garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp chile powder (leave this out if you don’t like very spicy enchiladas)
1-2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 paprika
7 cups water
10-12 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups cheddar, shredded, plus more for topping
1 1/2 cups mozzarella, shredded
1/2 red onion, minced
1 can of black beans, drained
Cilantro, queso fresco, sour cream, for garnish
Begin by making the enchilada sauce. Take the stems and seeds off of the dried chiles. Place in a heat proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 20 minutes, or until soft. Drain the chiles and add to a food processor. Pulse until a thick paste has formed.
In a medium pot, melt the crisco over medium heat. Add the garlic, flour, and salt and cook for a few minutes, making sure to cook the flour taste out. Add the chile paste and stir for about 10 minutes – it will form a large ball in the bottom of the pot. Add the water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 1 hour. Strain the sauce to remove the large chile pieces/seeds. Taste the sauce and season with salt, and other spices, if needed.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Working in an assembly line, dip the corn tortilla in the enchilada sauce. Add a small amount of both of the cheeses, red onion, and black beans. Roll tightly and place in a baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, cheeses, onions, and black beans. Make sure to place the enchiladas next to each other so they are snug in the pan. After the enchiladas have been rolled and are in the dish, top with about a cup or two of the remaining enchilada sauce (you may have a little leftover which you can save) making sure to cover the enchiladas – you may use less/more sauce depending upon how you like them. Top with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and place in oven. Bake, covered with a piece of foil for about 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheeses have melted and the enchiladas are just starting to bubble.
Garnish with cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, sour cream, and thinly sliced radishes. Serve immediately.