Everyone loves enchiladas, or they should. My mom makes hers from scratch using a recipe from my dad’s side of the family. My dad comes from the Gila Valley in Arizona; they’ve been there for generations. I’ve asked my Grandma as well as Great Aunts and Uncles where this recipe comes from but no one seems to know. It’s always been around; in pretty much the same form though various branches of the family have tweaked it here or there. These enchiladas are my favorite meal of all time. Growing up we had them about once a month and whenever I visit home mom will usually make them as she knows I love them.
I know how to make these enchiladas. I have the recipe and have done so before. The problem is one of storage. The recipe for the sauce that has come down to us is not small, it makes over a quart of the stuff! If I had a family of four or five that wouldn’t be an issue but, there are only the two of us here. Freezing the sauce does something to it that changes its texture and I don’t have a canner (yet). So, most of the time we go without.
I went home over last weekend for a good friend’s wedding and while there my mom handed me the can above and asked, “how many pints of this can you carry back with you?” My first response was, “As much as I can fit into this suitcase! I will mail my personal effects home!” She wasn’t buying that line, though… So we settled on four pints of the canned enchilada sauce. I had to check my bags (damned TSA) but eating enchiladas tonight was completely worth it.
I don’t know if this is breaking some family tradition or not… But, I can’t share with you how great this meal tastes and then not give you the opportunity to experience it yourself! So I’m including the recipe below! I warn you it makes a lot and is skimpy on the details, but then aren’t all things that are passed down from generation to generation?
Howard Family Enchilada Sauce
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 46 oz can of tomato juice
- 46 oz of water
- 1 can El Pato sauce
- 1 tsp. vinegar
- 1 soup spoonful of sugar
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- chili powder
- salt and pepper
You make a thick roux from the flour and shortening and then brown it (it is easier to thin the sauce than it is to thicken it so you want to error on the thick side here) once the rue has browned you add in the other ingredients, stirring constantly. Once all the ingredients are incorporated you may season the sauce. After seasoning throw in the already cooked beef. Raise the sauce to a boil and then let simmer for at least an hour.
To prepare enchiladas: soften corn tortillas in hot oil, a quick dip in and then out will be sufficient. Blot them if you want to cut down on oil. Layer the tortillas, sauce, cheese, and diced onions (three or four layers is sufficient). Top with lettuce. Be as generous or as stingy as you want with the sauce during layering. I’ve had it both ways and both are good. I usually run generous, though.