Why can't you find good Tex Mex food in this town!? (Veggie Enchiladas with beef chili gravy)

I used to live in Texas. I love Tex Mex, it is an obsession. I grew up on crappy Tex Mex here in New Orleans and my mind was blown when I moved. Now that I am back I am having withdrawals. My coworker who is from east Dallas Shreveport had the same complaint. We brought her to what is passable one of the best here in New Orleans, Taqueria Corona for lunch last week. She was not impressed. I wasn't either this time, so I decided to take matters into my own hands! I pinned this recipe that happened to be posted the day after that lunch on Facebook by one of my friends I met in Texas. 

Funnily enough, when in New Orleans, the closest place to find authentic Hispanic foods such as dried chilies is an Asian Market! I ventured to the West Bank in my west bank t-shirt to the Hong Kong Market and was amazed. They have the most extensive collection of Asian noodles I could ever imagine. They also have hard to find meat and seafood so it smelled funny. And a whole aisle of Hispanic products! I got my chilies and was ready to roll!

Actual recipe after the play by play. 
 I am posting this in Meal Plan Monday with Southern Plate and Southern Bite as well!  Link on over!

The cast of characters
Roasting the chilies
Straining the sauce
Making the sauce
Cheese glorious cheese!
The messiest assembly line I have ever been a part of
Before baking
After baking! Delicious.
Hated it!


For the Chili Gravy

2 ounces dried Ancho chilies, stems and seeds removed 
2 ounces dried Guajillo chilies, stems and seeds removed 
2 dried Arbol chilies, stems and seeds removed (I couldn’t find these so I used puya chiles) 
Hot water, for soaking 
1/2 pound ground beef 
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped 
8 medium garlic cloves, minced 
2 teaspoons ground cumin 
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
2 teaspoons taco seasoning 
Salt and pepper to taste 
4 cups chicken stock or broth 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 

For the Veggie Enchiladas
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
12 corn tortillas 
¾ of a pound block of sharp cheddar cheese, grated 
1 chopped yellow onion 
Small squash, chopped 
Small zucchini, chopped


For the Chili Gravy: 
Heat a heavy 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cut all the chilies open along one side and remove top and seeds, so that they can be laid flat. Working in batches, cook chilies in the skillet, pressing down with a spatula, until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 5 seconds on each side; being careful not to let chilies burn. Transfer to a large bowl and cover chilies with hot water, setting a small plate on top to keep them submerged. Let stand 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, add ground beef to cast-iron skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to a medium bowl and set aside. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of beef fat from skillet; if there isn’t enough fat leftover in the skillet, add enough oil to make up the difference. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in minced garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer onion and garlic to a blender.

Drain chilies, discarding all of the soaking liquid. Transfer chilies to the blender with onions and garlic, and add cumin, oregano, taco seasoning, black pepper, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 cup chicken stock. Blend mixture until smooth, scraping down the sides with a spatula occasionally, about 1 to 2 minutes on high. If the mixture won’t blend, add another 1/2 cup of stock.

Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, press chili mixture through a strainer set over a large bowl until only chili skins remain in strainer. Discard skins.

Heat oil in cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add flour and stir immediately with a wire whisk. Continue to stir until roux turns light golden brown. Add chili mixture and stir in remaining broth and ground beef. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a slow and steady simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is dark red and thick like a gravy, about 30 minutes. 

For the Veggie Enchiladas: 

While your gravy is cooking, season onions, squash and zucchini with salt and pepper and saute in a pan with a little oil until onions are translucent. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 375°F. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Working 1 tortilla at a time, carefully slide tortillas into oil and cook, turning once,about 5 to 10 seconds per side. Transfer the fried tortilla to a paper towel-line plate to drain. Working 1 tortilla at a time, dip fried tortilla into sauce, then transfer to a plate. Arrange some cheese and chopped veggies in a line along center of tortilla, then roll up. Set rolled tortilla, seam-side down, in a 9-by-11-inch baking pan and repeat with remaining tortillas, cheese, and onion.

Spoon remaining sauce on top of enchiladas, followed by remaining cheese and onion. Transfer to the oven, and bake until cheese melts and just starts to bubble, 10 to 15 minutes. 

This was a mess to make! It doesn't help that I am a messy cook. They were so delicious, but not as good as I wanted them to be as leftovers.  Also not as spicy as I thought, maybe it was my sub of the kind of pepper.  I may add a little jalapeno if I ever make again.  It was worth the time and effort for me as I find cooking therapeutic and have a lot of time on my hands, but definitely not the recipe for everyone. It is especially time consuming when you don't have a dishwasher like me! I now know why it's hard to find good Tex Mex in this town, it's hard work and we all work hard enough!

Happy Cooking and Eating!


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