Updated: Oct 24
I recently saw a meme that said, "I don't know the secret to happiness, but I'll tell you what. I've never been sad at a Mexican restaurant." I giggled (because it's true) and then thought more about it. As someone who grew up in Southern California, Mexican cuisine is serious comfort food for me but also feels celebratory. Had a rough day? Here are some enchiladas and a margarita to drown your sorrows. Had a good day? Here are some enchiladas and a margarita to celebrate.
Now, as much as I enjoy eating out (and definitely have my favorite Mexican spots), we eat at home most days because, well, it's literally my job (how else would I have time to come up with recipes for y'all to use my spice blends in??), and, frankly, eating out is expensive. So when I'm craving enchiladas, this is the recipe I turn to. It's got a deeply flavorful from-scratch sauce (thanks to my Five-Chile Relajo Spice Blend) but still comes together in about 30 minutes start to finish. I like to make this recipe using two 6x9 baking dishes so that I can freeze one for later use, but you can absolutely do it all in one 9x13 baking dish if you're feeding more than 2-3 people.
So pour yourself a margarita, and let's get cooking, shall we?
Five-Chile Relajo Beef Enchiladas
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons neutral oil (I like grapeseed)
2 yellow onions, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons Five-Chile Relajo Spice Blend
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
2 cups beef broth
1 pound lean ground beef
2 cups shredded cheese (I like a mix of cheddar and Monterey Jack)
4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, divided
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Sour cream, sliced avocado, and lime wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 F with a rack in the middle position.
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook about 60 seconds, until fragrant. Transfer half of the onion mixture to a medium bowl and set aside. Return skillet to the heat and add the Five-Chile Relajo Spice Blend and tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomato paste begins to darken, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and add the chipotle chile. With the processor running, slowly add beef broth and process until smooth. Season sauce to taste with kosher salt.
Return the now-empty skillet to the stove and heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking the meat into pieces with the back of your spoon. Add the reserved onion and garlic mixture to the skillet and continue to cook until the beef is completely cooked through. Transfer the beef mixture to the bowl you had the onion mixture in. Add 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, along with 2 tablespoons of minced cilantro, and 2 tablespoons of your sauce to the bowl and stir to combine. Season to taste with kosher salt.
Spread 1/4 cup sauce over the bottom of two 6x9 baking pans (or 1/2 cup over the bottom of one 13x9 baking sheet). Soften the tortillas for a few seconds over a burner or in the microwave so they are pliable. Working one at a time, place a scoop of beef mixture in the center of a tortilla and roll it into a cylinder, arranging each tightly against the prior cylinder so that they hold each other in place. You will be able to fit 6 enchiladas in each of the small baking pans (or 12 in the large pan).
Pour the remaining sauce over the rolled enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese. (At this point I like to cover and freeze one of the two small pans for a later meal.) Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is lightly browned and the sauce is bubbling at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes then sprinkle with sliced scallions and cilantro. Serve, passing sour cream, avocado, and lime wedges separately.