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Best Recipes, Mains, Vegetarian

Classic red enchiladas

Classic red enchiladas
Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

My family was convinced that we made the best enchiladas around. You might consider this attitude to be insufferable until you tasted them. My mother and grandmother, great cooks only a little prone to exaggeration, swore that the enchilada recipe ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour | Makes 10 enchiladas
  • Olive oil
  • 5 onions, chopped
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 4 cups prepared red chile sauce, divided
  • 10 flour tortillas
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup pitted black olives or home-cured olives

Step 1Oil 2 (15x10-inch) jellyroll pans.

Step 2Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the onions; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and the oregano.

Step 3Spoon 1 cup of red chile sauce onto a wide dinner plate. Starting with 1 tortilla, dip both sides in the sauce. Place 1/2 cup of grated cheese, 2 olives and 1/3 cup of cooked onions down the middle of the tortilla. (We never added grated hard-boiled eggs, but many rancho families did.) Lastly, roll the sides of each tortilla over the filling. Place the enchilada, folded side down, on one of the pans. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Pour the remaining red chile sauce over the enchiladas. Sprinkle the remaining cheese in a strip down the middle of each enchilada. Decorate with any remaining olives. Cover the pans and refrigerate the enchiladas until you are ready to bake them. Let them stand at room temperature 1 hour before baking.

Step 4Heat the oven to 350 degrees near serving time.

Step 5Bake the enchiladas until they are puffed and the cheese has melted, 20 to 25 minutes.

Note: The red enchilada ultimately symbolized the fusion of Mexican foods and some of the favored ingredients brought over from Spain such as olives, olive oil and cheeses. These enchiladas, done Californio-style, were served at every important event but especially at barbecues. Try to make the enchiladas the day before you need them as the red chile will soak into the tortillas and make the enchiladas even better. Buy the thinnest tortillas you can find or use homemade.


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