Today we are going to make cheese enchiladas with a red sauce that is going to have so much authentic, traditional flavor it will be the best thing you’ve ever seen.
Way back in 1984, I was guiding an elk hunt near Silver City, New Mexico. We found this little authentic Mexican restaurant way down in the back of an alley and I had the best cheese enchiladas I had ever tasted. Mrs. Juarez wouldn’t share the recipe with me, and it took me a long time to figure this one out on my own.
The key to creating perfect authentic cheese enchiladas is the chiles.
The chiles that we are going to use are dried, and you’ll want to stem and seed them before adding to the pot of water to boil them.
The chiles we are using is going to give that authentic flavor: Guajillo (mild spice with a slightly fruity flavor), Ancho (sweet and smoky), New Mexico green chili or Cascabel can be substituted, and Chili de Arbol (adds some some heat similar to cayenne).
Around here, I can pretty easily find these peppers in the Hispanic aisle at the grocery store. However, if you can’t I’ve also ordered them off of Amazon. A quick google search and you should be able to find some resources best for you.
Once the water is done boiling, blend and strain the seeds out using a small strainer. Hang on to some of the water that was boiled and add it until you hit that perfect thick consistency – but we aren’t done just yet.
Tip: Save the leftover boiled chile broth to flavor stews or pot roasts in the future.
Toast & Grind Some Spice
One of the secret ingredients to an authentic enchilada sauce are toasted sesame seeds! Add some seeds to a cast iron skillet and cook them just until they are lightly browned.
Tip: To bring out more flavor in any spices, or older spices… give them a little toasting before adding to recipes.
Next add in some oregano and cumin, but instead of buying powdered spices, go ahead and get some whole oregano and cumin to roast with the sesame seeds. Toasting all of these adds even more flavor to the sauce. This is how you get that authentic flavor in there.
Now, once we’ve got these spices toasted, we are going to use a mortar and pestle to grind them up, along with all of the other spices listed in the recipe down below. If you don’t have one of these already; go get you one. We call this a grinding stone.
Once the sauce is all put together and simmering, use a little avocado oil and cook those corn tortillas just for a minute until they’re pliable. If you cook them too long, they will crisp and be hard to roll up those delicious onions and cheese.
Roll ’em up
All that is left to do is assemble those enchiladas!
First, dip the fried tortillas into the red sauce until they are coated. Then sprinkle some onions, thinly sliced Monterrey Jack cheese and queso fresco down the middle of each tortilla. Tightly roll the tortilla up and then place in a skillet or Dutch oven. Place the enchiladas in a warm oven for a few minutes, while to make sure they are thoroughly warmed through and the Monterrey cheese gets a little melted.
I like to finish it off with drizzling the tops of the these with leftover red sauce, queso fresco and Mexican crema.
There are so many layers of flavor at that first bite, between the sauce and the cinnamon and the cheese – it is almost indescribably good.
We sure hope you enjoy this authentic flavor, and for all the tips be sure to check out the video.
We also would like to share with y’all that we were honored to film with this American flag flying overhead that was flown at the U.S. Capitol in honor of Lance Corporal Cody S. Childers, killed while supporting combat operations in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan. His parents sent me a card with this flag and I can not adequately express the gratitude I feel for their sacrifice, and for all of the rest of our servicemen and women out there risking our lives to keep us safe.
Watch the Episode…
Authentic Cheese Enchiladas - Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 12 guajillo chilis stemmed and seeded
- 2 ancho chilis stemmed and seeded
- 4 New Mexico chilis or Cascabel chili stemmed and seeded
- 2 chili de arbol stemmed and seeded
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons whole oregano
- 2 teaspoons whole cumin
- 5 peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 tablespoons butter divided
- 1 large white onion chopped
- 2 cups con de pollo or chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons butter divided
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 6 to 8 Corn tortillas
- Monterey jack cheese thinly sliced
- 1 block Queso Fresco
- Mexican Crema for topping
Add the guajillo, ancho, New Mexico and de arbol chilis to a stock pot. Cover the chilis with water and bring to a low boil for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender.
- Strain the chilis from the pot and place in a blender. Add 1 cup of the chili liquid and garlic cloves. Blend well. Pour the contents through a strainer and set aside.
- Add the sesame seeds to a medium cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until they are lightly toasted. Stir in the cumin and oregano and continue to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Remove the spices from the skillet and place in a grinding rock (mortar and pestle). Add the peppercorns and cinnamon stick and crush into a fine powder. Set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the medium cast iron skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender.
- In a large cast iron skillet, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the blended red sauce. Stir in the chicken broth, crushed spices and allspice. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
- In the medium skillet add the avocado oil, and heat over medium heat. Add the tortillas, one at a time, and cook about 30 seconds per side or just until they are tender. Remove and place on a wire rack or cutting board.
- Dip the tortillas in the red sauce making sure to coat both sides. Lay the tortillas flat and layer down the center with onions, 1 to 2 slices of Monterrey cheese and 1 to 2 tablespoons queso fresco. Tightly roll up and place in the large skillet. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Cook the enchiladas in an oven heated to 350 degrees F. for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the enchiladas are warmed through.
Place on a serving dish and spoon over the leftover red sauce, sprinkle with crumbled Queso Fresco and drizzle with the Crema. Serve immediately.