Cheese Enchiladas with Chile Con Carne

Enchiladas have come into my life in a big way. It started when Craig talked about his mom’s enchiladas in the first episode of The Clean Plate Club. That inspired his mom, a week later, to make her famous enchiladas for dinner when we were all up in Bellingham. Her recipe is hand-written on an old, barely intact index card; bacon drippings are involved (though, in a pinch, she uses butter). Here’s a picture of the card.


And here’s Julee, Craig’s mom, with a tray of her delicious enchiladas:


I really dug them: sort of like rolled up non-fried quesadillas drenched in a piquant sauce. It all comes together like a lasagna, but with Mexican flair.

Back here in L.A., I was eager to try my own hand at enchiladas and decided to try a recipe from Lisa Fain’s Homesick Texan Cookbook. This was for the second episode of The Clean Plate Club and my guests being guys, I chose enchiladas with a meat sauce. (If you think that’s sexist, listen to our discussion on that very topic!)

The real work, here, is the sauce. You toast Ancho chiles in a skillet:


Rehydrate them with water:


Then blend them up with cooked onion and garlic, cumin, oregano, allspice and cinnamon.


Meanwhile, brown ground beef in a pot:


Add the blender stuff and beef stock (I used water) and cook it down. Here’s your sauce.


Then it’s just a matter of enchilada assembly:


That’s my work station. Here’s how it works: you toast a corn tortilla, you dip it with tongs into the sauce, then you put it on a plate and layer in grated cheddar cheese and diced onion…


You roll that up and put it in a casserole dish. Then you repeat until you’ve filled the casserole. Once that happens, you pour on any remaining sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and onions.


Your enchilada assembly is finished; now you can refrigerate that until you’re ready to bake. When it’s time, heat your oven to 350, pop that in and take it out when the cheese is lightly browned and bubbling. Things will smell very good.


Let’s be honest: it’s a greasy, despicable mess. And every moment of it is outrageously wonderful. Like a chili lasagna with corn tortillas; you can hear the actual groans of pleasure if you listen to the podcast.

So enchiladas have entered my life in a big way. There’s no going back.

Recipe: Cheese Enchiladas with Chile Con Carne

Summary: From Lisa Fain’s Homesick Texan Cookbook.


  • 6 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or lard
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 pound ground beef (I used 1/2 pound b/c that’s the smallest amount I could buy)
  • 2 cups beef broth (or water)
  • Salt, black pepper, and cayenne to taste
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 4 cups grated cheddar cheese (16 ounces)


  1. In a dry skillet heated on high heat, toast the ancho chiles on each side for about 10 seconds or just until they start to puff. Fill the skillet with enough water to cover the chiles (it’ll sizzle). Leave the heat on until the water begins to boil and then turn off the heat and let the chiles soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Once hydrated, discard the soaking water and rinse the chiles. Place in a blender.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or lard, and cook 1/2 of the onions with a pinch of salt, occasionally stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Place cooked onions and garlic into the blender, along with the cumin, oregano, allspice, cinnamon, a pinch of salt and 1 cup of water. Blend until smooth.
  3. In the same pot that you used to cook the onions and garlic, on medium heat brown the ground beef (add a little salt), stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the chile puree and the beef broth, heat on high until boiling, and then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 30 minutes, adjust seasonings and add salt, black pepper, and cayenne to taste.
  4. To make the enchiladas, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a large baking dish (I used 9 X 13). In a skillet, heat up the oil or lard on medium-low heat. One at a time, heat up the tortillas in the hot oil. Keep them wrapped in a cloth or tortilla warmer until all the tortillas are heated.
  5. Take a heated tortilla and use tongs to dip it into the sauce. Shake off most of the sauce, but make sure that it’s moist enough to be pliable. Lay the tortilla on a plate or clean cooking surface, add 1/4 cup of the grated cheese down the center of it, along with a few of the diced onions. Roll the tortilla. Place rolled enchilada in the greased baking dish and repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining grated cheese and diced onions. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbling.

Preparation time: 45 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

14 thoughts on “Cheese Enchiladas with Chile Con Carne”

  1. I just made this for dinner last weekend, only I used the recipe with brisket instead of ground beef. Delicious!

  2. This looks somewhat similar to the tex-mex enchiladas I grew up with (but no meat, never meat in the sauce). My question here is about the texture of the tortillas in the finished dish. Aren’t they a little mushy? Every “traditional” enchilada recipe I know of involves frying the tortillas in oil. If you don’t do that (which my dad never does, which is why i don’t eat his enchiladas) you end up with more of a pudding than a dish of separate, toothy enchiladas.

    1. Adam Amateur Gourmet

      They’re not mushy, per se, they’re soft though…kind of like pasta (hence the lasagna comparison). Frying them first sounds like a good idea, I’ll give that a go some day.

  3. I know this is kind of of food blogger blasphemy – but…. the Pioneer Woman’s red enchilada recipe is really good! the enchilada filling has ground meat with onions and green chiles, black olives, green onion, grated cheese, etc. and the sauce starts with canned but is slow-simmered with chicken broth (I think), cilantro and I always throw in a good dried chile. I’ve made many times and always a hit.

  4. Your smoky sauce and “chili cheese” version are definitely not despicable. Must try! Still smiling about the handwritten recipe card — what a lovely lady.

  5. The picture of the old recipe card is endearing! Too bad the next generation of cooks won’t have those relics.

  6. Ancho chilli’s are an ingredient I can’t wait to cook with but something that I need to order online… they’re not very easy accessible unfortunately.

  7. Cheese enchiladas are my favorite food. I have been making different cheese enchilada recipes for the past decade trying to find the right one. This is it!

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