Sunday, August 19, 2007

Run for the Border

Bug used to make enchiladas the traditional way, by dipping a tortilla in scalding enchilada sauce, followed by rolling meat, refried beans, and cheese into a cylinder, like sushi (ha!), and then placing them one-by-one in a rectangular casserole dish to be baked.

One day, he made the enchiladas like lasagne, in horizontal layers. It was four times faster and he didn't have burnt fingers from the heat and spices. The difference in flavor was negligible and was, in fact, easier for me to eat.

We're on a tight budget these days, and this goes a long way. We looked in our cupboards and fridge to see what ingredients we already had. We had all but a few ingredients. Yay! This is also a great exercise in teamwork and leave-alone while gaming dish. :)

Without further ado, our dinner this evening - Enchilada Casserole à la SicklyBug

Preparation: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 1 hour

3 lb ground beef
2 packets taco seasoning
32 oz refried beans
1/2 cup salsa
12 oz enchilada sauce
10 large flour tortillas (~9" diameter)
12 oz cheese, finely shredded monterey jack, cheddar, asadero, queso blanco mix

Makes 10-12 servings

1. Cook the ground beef in a large pot. No oil is used to cook the meat.

2. Once the ground beef is thoroughly cooked, drain grease for a few minutes in a colander, and then return beef to the pot and add taco seasoning.

3. Add the refried beans and salsa to the beef. Cook until well incorporated.

4. Set oven to 200F.

5. Coat 13" x 9" casserole dish with oil.

6. Coat two whole tortillas with enchilada sauce on both sides and place in casserole dish so the tortillas reaches the left and right edge of the dish lengthwise. The tortilla diameter should suffice to cover the dish width.

7. Tear one tortilla into quarters to form a wedge, then coat the tortilla wedges on both sides with enchilada sauce. Place each sharp edge in each corner of the casserole dish. There should be a contingous tortilla layer.

8. Evenly spread a half-inch layer of the meat-bean mixture.

9. Sprinkle a thin coating of cheese.

10. Repeat steps 7-9. There should be just enough meat-bean filling.

11. Repeat step 7. Tear one tortilla in half. Coat the tortillas on both sides with the enchilada sauce. Slide the straight edge of each half into the two lengthwise edges of the casserole dish so the straight edges are wedged into the sides as far down as possible.

12. Add enough enchilada sauce to evenly distribute a light coat over the top layer of tortillas. Cover with foil and poke holes in the foil, then place dish in oven.

13. After 45 minutes, take the casserole out of the oven and cover evenly with cheese. Place the dish back in the oven, foil off, for 15 minutes to melt the cheese.

3 lb ground chuck -- $2.12/lb = $6.36
2 packets taco seasoning -- $1.00/packet = $2.00
32 oz refried beans -- in cupboard ($0.49 x 2 cans = $0.98)
1/2 cup salsa, hot -- in fridge ($1.99)
12 oz enchilada sauce -- in cupboard (anywhere between $0.79 for a regular can - ~$3.00 for Trader Joe's bottle)
10 large flour tortillas -- $1.50
12 oz cheese, finely shredded -- in fridge ($1.99/8 oz = $3.98)
oil -- in cupboard ($2.00)

Total cost was $10.00, which will be good for 5-6 meals. If all ingredients had to be purchased, this dish would have cost $20-22.

Bug is a mega carnivore, so he was happy with the dish as is. I needed something cool and crisp to accompany this dish with it being so dense and warm. I added one shredded leaf of head lettuce and 2 grape tomatoes. No dressing was needed. To further spike the enchilada, as well as give it a tang, I added a teaspoon of Cholula hot sauce.

As I am writing this, I'm enjoying a bowl of cool almond agar for dessert. A refreshing cap to this meal.

- Cassaendra

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