Our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant is like a beacon of holy, margarita-tinted light at the end of bad days. Or really good days. Or just days.
It’s within 2 miles of my office, specializes in traditional El Paso dishes, has the crispiest (read: oiliest) chips, a to-die-for list of happy hour deals, and a recurring, friendly waiter who we force into loving us by over-tipping him. It has become our version of Central Perk in Friends. Or Tom’s in Seinfeld. Or MacLaren’s in How I Met Your Mother.
We’ve even tried forcing our love for this restaurant on our own friends, hoping they’ll adopt it as their place and we’ll all sit around tables of chips and salsa, talking about work, love, and life, while a laugh track plays in the background.
It hasn’t worked yet. But soon. Very soon.
But we can’t eat there everyday. Cheap and delicious as it may be, I’m pretty sure we’d die within a month from overindulgence on queso and every other ingredient that is oil-based.
To remedy this, a few years ago, the boy had a stroke of brilliance and prepared the best classic beef enchiladas I’ve ever tasted. Fortunately, his upbringing in south Austin (and nourishment from Tex-Mex restaurants while his mother was pregnant with him) has given him an inspiring Tex-Mex palate, and it has made its way into our everyday lives in several ways:
1. We just planted 12 jalapeno plants in our spring garden. TWELVE. That doesn’t include the other random chiles and peppers he tossed into our cart at Home Depot as plantlings like they were the last cartons of clean water before a Day After Tomorrow-like situation.
2. The saddest I’ve seen him in a few months is when our cilantro plants bolted to seed and became useless to us. “Can we just prune it back?” he said with sweet, sad, hopeful eyes.
3. Our counter is currently laden with a monster bag of Costco limes, just begging to be squeezed into one out of three dishes and drinks that come through our kitchen, and the top shelf of our refrigerator holds no less than 6 different hot sauces and salsas. And we’re ALWAYS out of chips…. First world problems, lemme tell ya…
But at the end of the day, all of this means that my other half will never stop playing with new Tex-Mex recipes and creating new, delicious dishes that I can in turn take pictures of and post on here. He’s the talented one, people. Not me.
Making his homemade enchiladas is remarkably simple. You start with plenty of onion, garlic, and jalapeno, sauteed slowly before adding lean ground beef to cook down in the mixture. We love to add a questionably large amount of lime juice, because it’s what gives the savory filling an extra level of complexity and lip-licking. Then, simply coat corn tortillas in a smoky enchilada sauce (canned is fine) and fill with a hearty amount of enchilada filling. Layer an American amount of cheese on top hof all of them and bake until bubbly and hot.
Top your serving with a bit of chopped cilantro, or a creamy slice of avocado. Make it a full-blown Tex-Mex meal by serving it with a bit of spanish rice and creamy refried beans, or just eat the enchiladas a la carte on repeat. Although they are best fresh out of the oven, they do indeed hit the spot when reheated for lunch the next day.
Tex Mex Beef Enchiladas
For the Enchiladas
- 1 white onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 whole jalapenos diced (keep seeds if you like the heat)
- 2 lbs lean ground beef
- 4 limes
- 1 bunch cilantro chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 20 corn tortillas
For the Enchilada Sauce
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- Jack or cheddar cheese to top shredded
- In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onion, garlic, and jalapenos until softened and fragrant. Add the beef and cook completely.
- Use a citrus reamer to add the juice of four limes to the mixture, and stir in the cumin. Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the cilantro.
- To make the sauce, heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the corn starch until thickened, about 1 minute. Whisk in the chili powder, tomato sauce, salt, cumin, oregano, sugar, and cayenne pepper. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, whisking briskly while doing so.
- To assemble, pour the sauce into a shallow dish. Dip the corn tortilla into sauce, coating it lightly. Fill with roughly 1/3 cup of the meat mixture and wrap, placing seam side down into a baking dish. Continue until you've used up all of your ingredients.
- Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top of the enchiladas and bake in an oven at 350F for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Serve with cilantro or sour cream as a garnish.