The Joy of Tradition: Enchiladas!

New Mexico Traditional Enchilada with Egg
Traditional New Mexican-style enchiladas, with sides!
In September, I made a trip to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to visit my young nieces and, oh yes, my sister Paula and her husband Jeff, too.  The girls and I got to spent some auntie-niece time when the parents went away for a few days.  Out of the 3 nights I stayed with them, at the girls’ request, we had enchiladas two of those nights.  It’s just what we do, and it’s what we love.  In our family, enchiladas are soul food and enchilada night is family tradition.  My youngest niece, who is 11, wanted to help, and I was thrilled to be part of her desire to carry on this family tradition.  I had similar great joy when I read Amy’s blog about enchiladas.

Enchiladas are just plain good food.  Really easy.  Relatively inexpensive.  Vegetarian.  Gluten-free, if the sauce is gluten free (Old El Paso wasn’t when I first wrote this; they are now; always check ingredients).  The house smells like we took a trip south of the border.  So, as promised, here is the recipe our family loves, and freely adapts, for enchiladas:

Mack Family Enchiladas

This recipe serves one but can be multiplied to serve a multitude!

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Get out an oven-proof dinner plate.

Heat 1 can of enchilada sauce (a 15 oz. can will last for 8-10 tortillas) in a pan that is larger in diameter than the tortillas you will use. If you can find Hatch brand sauce, by all means use that.  Old El Paso is good, too.  My grandmother Deedie used to add a little oregano, cumin and garlic powder to the canned sauce as it simmered, so I do that, too.  She also thought that aluminum cans should be opened and allowed to “breathe” before using the contents.  I think my grandmother Lollie made her own enchilada sauce from dried peppers, and I haven’t tried that yet.
Meanwhile, chop some onion and make sure you have some shredded cheese.  I often use what’s packaged as Mexican cheese. Colby-Jack, Monterey Jack, or mild cheddar will do, too.

When the sauce is good and hot, then …

Soften 4 corn tortillas per serving (or more, or fewer).  The traditional way to soften them is to pass them through hot lard or oil.  My sister Paula gave me a healthy hint that works great:  I now wrap 4 tortillas in a paper towel, sprinkle just a little water on the towel, and microwave for 45 seconds.  
One at a time, dip each tortilla in the sauce and put on a plate — flat.  Sprinkle cheese and onions to taste. Continue layering sauce-dipped tortillas with cheese and onions until you have the desired number, usually a number that is between 3 and 9!  Our family fun comes with the special requests:  “no onions, light cheese, heavy cheese” and so on.
Put the plate in the warm oven to keep it warm.  When our whole family gets together, and we always have enchilada night, it takes all the racks of a double oven and one person’s job is to keep the list of whose plate is in what place in the ovens.

Fry an egg for each serving, or poached egg works too.  Get the plate out of the oven.  Add the egg to the top and put more sauce over it.  Some people (see this picture) like a lot of sauce!  And some people also like to squeeze just a little lemon juice (totally optional) on top.

Whatever makes it yummy!
This recipe is participating in Hearth and Soul Hop (Volume 18)

10 thoughts on “The Joy of Tradition: Enchiladas!

  1. When I'm not so rushed I'll come back and snag the recipe. Looks wonderful! Don't know how I missed your Friday five (well, maybe the fact that I was away from the computer most of the day!), but you've got some great "fives" there, too!

  2. Truthfully, I've never gotten into Enchiladas. [Sushhhhhhhh, don't tell! ,-)] But since seeming to need Gluten Free eating, I have become quite up-close-&-personal with corn. Soooooooooooo… Enchiladas, here I come! :-))))Gentle hugs…

  3. And thank you so much, for giving another view of my lamented "lack of focus," or whatever. Your idea that instead of "Punishing" ourselves for it, we could describe it as showing our "creative" self. And thus celebrate it! :-)We all do way too much of that "Punishing ourselves" over this or that! Or want to do so, anyway. I do fight self-punishment, but… But thank you for giving me another way to view that trait in me. :-)Gentle hugs…

  4. Jan, I hope you will like it!Aunt Amelia, your blog is very sweet! And you obviously hit on something shared by many others with your recent post about life plans, or the lack thereof. I hope you will enjoy this recipe and perhaps find ways to adapt it to your taste so you will look forward to enchiladas!

  5. Oh miss sharon, so glad you got to spend quality family time! I also love that you shared what soul food is to your family. I think THAT is more important than a coat of arms! We also love enchilladas, and your family recipe looks divine. Thanks so much for sharing on the hearth and soul hop this week. All the best! Alex@amoderatelife

  6. Pingback: The Pastoral Is Political: Putting Earth Day on Our Plate – RevGalBlogPals

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