This morning, I just knew I wanted Mexican food for dinner, so I have been working on pulled beef enchiladas off and on all day. Before you start, remember you need to commit some time to this. But, I promise the end result is better than any Mexican restaurant serves and certainly better than the carby frozen ones or made with canned sauce!
Before I moved here to care for aging parents, I had a Mexican housekeeper/nanny for my granddaughter I raised from a baby. Rosa would make these for me occasionally, and it was heaven!
This recipe will feed a family, but since I live alone, I make it and freeze it in separate components- sauce and pulled beef in separate freezer containers, ready to assemble when the mood hits.
Pulled beef for filling
1 1/2 to 2 pounds beef for stewing ( I don't buy the expensive beef already cut- mine is usually a chuck roast
I found on sale and cut into chunks.)
5 cups of water
3 teaspoons of powdered beef bouillon
1 Tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.
In a heavy bottomed pot, place all ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer until the beef can be pulled apart with two forks. I usually do it about 1 1/2 hours- more if it's a tough cut of meat. Take the meat out and let cool. Freeze the cooking liquid for soup base- really delicious! Pull all the beef apart into shreds and refrigerate till ready to put the enchiladas together.
2 large guajillo dried chiles. This makes a fairly mild sauce with just a little heat. If you want a spicier sauce use more peppers. The Mexican section of any large grocery usually carries these peppers in bags dried. If you can't find guajillo peppers, dried anchos will work. They are a little hotter than guajillos.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 - 10 Roma tomatoes, chopped finely
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
Splenda granular equivalent to 1 Tablespoon of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste ( Wait till nearly the end of cooking, taste and see if you want any.)
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
4 tablespoons lime juice
The first task to making the sauce is to toast the peppers. Cut the tops off and dump all the seeds and membranes out- the more you leave in, the hotter they will be. Toast the peppers in a dry skillet- I use cast iron and press the peppers down with a spatula for good contact with heat. As soon as one side of the peppers is toasted, flip it and repeat. Now place the chiles in 4 cups of hot water from the tap and let them soak to rehydrate. Now chop everything. In the same toasting skillet heat the oil, and gently cook the onions and garlic, being careful not to burn the garlic. Remove the chiles from the water (they should have soaked at least thirty minutes,) and reserve the water in case you need it later. Finely dice the chiles and add all other ingredients except cilantro and lime juice to the skillet. Gently cook till the tomatoes are wilted well and cooked. At this point if the sauce seems a little too thick (will depend on the juice in the tomatoes), add a little of the pepper soaking liquid (small amount at the time.) Add lime juice and cilantro and cook for another couple of minutes. When all is cooked, remove from the heat and blend in batches, being careful to only load the blender 1/2 full, and hold a kitchen towel over the lid. This stuff is hot and can explode right out of the blender on to you!
Assembling the enchiladas
Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with non-stick spray. Coat the bottom of the pan with a very little bit of the enchilada sauce. Using low carb tortillas (I use 7 inch ones,) assemble the enchiladas and lay them seam side down in the pan with sides touching. I dip each tortilla in the warm sauce first, add a little beef filling, cheese and a dollop of the sauce- roll like you would an egg roll. When you have filled the pan with enchiladas, cover with sauce and queso blanco (Mexican cheese-white) or a Mexican blend of grated cheese. Bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is beginning to brown and is bubbly. Serve with a salad for a truly superb meal. Ole!