You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 of my Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. Have fun!


~ New Mexico-Style Cheese, Corn & Bean Enchiladas~

IMG_1917Whenever we traveled out of town for a few days, the moment we crossed the Centre County line and got within 20-30 minutes of home, we'd discuss what we were most hungry for (the food we missed the most on our trip always won).  We'd order it for pick up, from one of our favorite eateries. Typically, that revolved around a pizza shop, a Chinese takeout place, or, a Mexican joint.  When it came to the latter, I usually ordered up a plate of seriously cheesy enchiladas.

IMG_1934Enchiladas are one of those Tex-Mex specialties that taste a bit different everywhere you eat them.  In a Mexican-American restaurant or in the home kitchen, they are lightly-fried corn tortillas that have been dipped in a deep reddish-brown chili-powder-based sauce before being filled, rolled up and baked.  The filling can consist of a seemingly endless variety of meats (beef, chicken or pork), fish or seafood, cheese and/or beans and/or various other vegetables (for a vegetarian option).  In my Happy Valley kitchen, the two favorite kid- and tailgate-tested fillings for my New Mexico-style Red Chile Enchilada Sauced enchiladas are spicy beef, lots of onions and green chiles (pictured in the next paragraph), and, cheese, black beans and sweet corn (which I'm making today).  The two pair well together on the same plate too, so make 'em both.

IMG_1803The word "enchilada" comes from the Spanish word "enchilar" which means "to add chile pepper to" as well as "to season or decorate with chile pepper".  In English, the phrase "the whole enchilada" means "the whole thing" or "the entire situation".  In Mexico, they're sold by vendors in the streets, much like hot dogs are sold in the United States, and, the practice of rolling maize tortillas around other food dates back to Mayan times.  In their original form, enchiladas were IMG_1843simply corn tortillas dipped in chili sauce and eaten without fillings.  

There are many varieties of enchiladas, which are distinguished primarily by the sauce (most commonly a red chile and/or tomato-based sauce or a green chile and/or tomatillo sauce). That said, if you're not using corn tortillas to make your enchiladas, technically speaking, you're not making enchiladas.

Red enchilada sauce, or "red chile gravy", is said to be the soul of Tex-Mex cuisine, and, it isn't reserved solely for enchiladas -- it's often served with burritos, tamales and other Tex-Mex specialties.  As for its history, the rich, brownish-red flour-roux based gravy is described as neither truly Mexican nor American (it's Mexican-American).  It's said to have been invented by Anglo-owned Mexican restaurants in San Antonio, Texas.  Recipes for it have been in print since the early 1890's, and, by the 1900's "enchilada sauce" was being sold in cans. 

 Part One:  Making the Cheese, Black Bean & Sweet Corn Filling

IMG_1853Unlike making ground beef or other meat, poultry, fish or seafood enchiladas, the filling for the cheese version is quick to make because there's no cooking of the the protein involved -- it just get folded together.  That said, it happens to be sweet corn season here in Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, so, I've shaved the corn kernels off two cobs of previously-cooked corn, but, feel free to substitute well-drained canned corn, or, frozen and cooked corn with little compromise.

3  cups jalapeño Jack cheddar cheese (12 ounces)

1  15 1/2-ounce can black beans, well-drained and rinsed

1  4 1/2-ounce can green chiles, slightly- lightly- drained of excess liquid

1 1/4-1 1/2  cups sweet corn kernels, preferably shaved from 2 large previously-cooked or grilled corn cobs

1  cup small-diced yellow or sweet onion

1  cup minced, fresh cilantro, total throughout recipe (3/4 cup for filling recipe + 1/4 cup reserved for garnish)

IMG_1859 IMG_1862 IMG_1864 IMG_1866~Step 1.  Grate  cheese and reserve 1 1/4 cups for topping the filled and rolled enchiladas.  In a large bowl, using a large spatula, fold together the black beans, green chiles, corn kernels, onion and 3/4 cup of the cilantro.  Add and gently fold in the 1 3/4 cups of cheese.  Set filling aside.

IMG_1869Part Two:  Assembling & Baking the Enchiladas

Before starting, it's worth mention that I use 2, 8" x 8" x 2" square casserole dishes, rather than 1, 13" x 9" x 2" dish, to make 12 enchiladas.  They fit in the two dishes perfectly without squeezing them to oblivion, and, they bake up perfectly.  Next.  I don't dip my corn tortillas in the sauce, which gives them a heavy coating, because, my homemade sauce is bolder-flavored than watered-down store-bought versions.  After frying the tortillas, I prefer to use a pastry brush to paint them, on both sides, with the sauce.  It works nicely.  One more item.  I fry my corn tortillas one-at-a-time in a small skillet, not all-at-once on a griddle -- it controls their texture better.

IMG_1877no-stick cooking spray

12  6"-round corn tortillas

1 1/2  cups my recipe for Easy New Mexico-Style Red Chile Enchilada Sauce (store-bought enchilada sauce will be a compromise)

all of the cheese filling (from above recipe) + 1 cup reserved cheese

an array of your favorite toppings (shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, scallion tops, cilantro, Mexican crema or sour cream and/or guacamole

IMG_1723 IMG_1725 IMG_1732 IMG_1734~Step 1.  Spray the inside of 2, 8" x 8" x 2" baking dishes with no-stick cooking spray, then, add and evenly distribute 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce into the bottom of each dish.  Spray the bottom of an 8" nonstick skillet with no-stick spray and place it over medium heat.  Place one corn tortilla in the skillet and spray the top of the tortilla too.  Cook the tortilla over medium heat, flipping it over once or twice, until it is soft, pliable and starts to bubble up in random spots throughout its center, about 1 1/2-2 total minutes.  Transfer the tortilla to a plate and repeat process with remaining tortillas (spraying and cooking), stacking the warm tortillas on the plate as you work.

IMG_1737 IMG_1738 IMG_1879 IMG_1882~Step 2.  Working one at a time, using a pastry brush, paint both sides of tortilla with sauce.  Next, distribute a generous (heaping) 1/3 cup of the filling mixture, lengthwise across the center.

IMG_1885 IMG_1890 IMG_1896 IMG_1899~Step 3.  Roll the enchilada up and place it, seam-side-down, in baking dish.  Continue filling and rolling until six enchiladas are filled, rolled and placed side-by-side, seam-side-down, in each dish. Evenly drizzle and distribute 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce over the tops of the enchiladas in each dish.  Sprinkle a generous 3/4 cup of remaining grated cheese over the tops of the enchiladas in each dish.  Bake on center rack of 350° oven, until bubbling and cheese is melted, 18-20 minutes.

Bake on center rack of 350° oven, 18-20 minutes:

IMG_1905Scoop 'em out & serve 'em up (ASAP) w/your favorite toppings:

IMG_1907Go ahead, take a taste, they're scrumptious: 

IMG_1951New Mexico-Style Cheese, Corn & Bean Enchiladas:  Recipe yields 5 cups filling/12 enchiladas/4-6 servings/2-3 per person.

Special Equipment List:  hand-held box grater; colander; cutting board; chef's knife; large rubber spatula; 2, 8" x 8" x 2" baking dishes; 8" nonstick skillet; pastry brush

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09b26e07970dCook's Note:  The tortilla is Mexico's everyday bread.  Corn tortillas are made from corn flour (masa) and flour tortillas are made from wheat flour (all-purpose flour).  Burritos, chimichangas, quesadillas, enchiladas and tacos are classic Mexican specialties prepared using a wide variety of fillings.  Tacos and enchiladas distinguish themselves by being the two dishes made with corn tortillas, so please, do not substitute flour tortillas when making my beef or cheese enchiladas. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2023) 


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment